As digital transformation becomes priority No. 1 for the channel and its customers, many legacy solution providers are pivoting toward the cloud and other markets that have emerged alongside it. Executing on that strategy, however, is often easier said than done -- the IT industry is changing rapidly, and expertise is hard to develop overnight.
Enter Xentaurs, a Santa Ana, Calif.-based systems integrator that specializes in cloud, DevOps and big data consulting for fellow solution providers. CEO Anoj Willy said his company helps solution providers deliver those services to existing customers and offers practical training that enables them to develop their own practices over time.
"While there's a lot of training on tools and overall DevOps methodology like Agile Coaching, which are a little more academic, there's not a lot of training out there for how I put this together in a practical way," Willy told CRN. "How does this actually look and feel inside a customer environment? That's really what Xentaurs is built to do."
Launched in early 2016, Xentaurs has since partnered with five solution providers. The company also works directly with enterprise clients, but Willy noted that 60 percent to 70 percent of business comes through its fellow partners.
Xentaurs said it grew 500 percent between the summers of 2016 and 2017 and expects revenue to reach the double-digit millions by mid-2018.
The Xentaurs partner-to-partner model begins with the creation of a cloud, DevOps or big data practice, in which both sides determine a go-to-market strategy and product fit. The two sides then work to create a repeatable system around the strategy that drives sustainable profit and features a standardized, optimized method of delivery.
Willy recommends solution providers collaborate with Xentaurs for at least a year to get these practices up and running. At that point, he said partners should be able to hire to a growing pipeline and measure revenue in the tens of millions.
Contracts are renewed on a six-month basis and grant partners access to Xentaurs experts, who participate in pre-sales calls and provide feedback on business proposals that ideally help solution providers tap into new revenue streams within their existing customer base.
"If you can't close that deal, it's frustrating for a sales team," Willy said. "Eventually they might say, 'This DevOps stuff is nice, but it's not going to pay the bills. I'm going to go back to selling hardware boxes and stuff wrapped in cardboard.' The create phase is typically where we help partners out. That's the hardest part."
Initially, Willy thought most partners would sign up for a year, leverage Xentaurs to build a practice and then go about their business. But in actuality, he said partners have been extending their contracts and signing up for consulting around other practice areas. Big-name vendors like Cisco Systems have even taken notice and begun directing its partners toward Xentaurs, he added.