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New NWN CEO Jim Sullivan Targets Hybrid Cloud, Brings 'Strong Intent' To Grow

Sullivan tells CRN that the solution provider powerhouse is also ‘doubling down’ on Device-as-a-Service and managed print services.

A few days into his new job as CEO of NWN, Jim Sullivan told CRN that the solution provider powerhouse will be placing bets on hybrid cloud and advanced services to drive accelerated growth this year.

Sullivan left his role as president of data management software firm Actifio, a privately held "unicorn" last valued at $1.3 billion, to take the helm at Waltham, Mass.-based NWN, succeeding CEO Skip Tappen.

[Related: Cisco Teams With AWS On Cisco Hybrid Solution For Kubernetes]

Sullivan said that hybrid cloud solutions—including an NWN offering built around Amazon Web Services—are a key area of focus as he leads the solution provider into "the next stage of growth."

"Everyone wants to do more hybrid—with their core workloads on-prem, but leveraging cloud," Sullivan said. "The market's big, the market's growing. And we've got 1,300 customers that want to do more with us."

Along with its Amazon Web Services partnership, NWN, which ranked No. 73 on the CRN 2018 Solution Provider 500, counts Cisco Systems, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and HP Inc. among its other deepest partnerships, Sullivan said.

"We have incredible history with the network, we have incredible history with telephony, and that's a lot of the core," Sullivan said. "We're a top partner with AWS, and we're combining all of these types of services into a [solution where] the customer has the ability to have what they like about on-prem, with all the flexibility of being in the cloud. I think you'll see us continue to develop those types of solutions for customers."

NWN will also be "doubling down" on offerings such as Device-as-a-Service and managed print services, Sullivan said. For those recurring revenue solutions, NWN’s partnership with HP Inc. has been crucial.

"Over the past 12 months, [NWN] has won a lot of really significant contracts--state and local contracts, commercial contracts--to doing Device-as-a-Service. It's been really, really successful," Sullivan said. "We can take those solutions and services that we've done for a lot of customers--it's very repeatable—and we can take them to our 1,300-customer base and deliver the same type of solutions. We can put those technologies with a lot of our advanced services."

While based in the Boston area, NWN is a national company with offices around the U.S., Sullivan said. The private equity firm that owns the company, New State Capital Partners, views NWN as a "platform company to really build on, both organically and inorganically," Sullivan said.

"We have a very strong intent to grow," he said, when asked if there could be acquisitions in the coming year. "I'm going to look at all options on how we do that."

Sullivan had served as president of Actifio since late 2011, when company—which specializes in copy data virtualization--was still pre-revenue, he said. Sullivan’s more than 30-year career in enterprise technology has also included serving as vice president of IBM Storage; as president of XIV (which was acquired by IBM); and as senior vice president of sales at EMC.

Sullivan, whose background has also included running a data center services provider, CentrePath, said that solution providers such as NWN and "the best technology companies" both essentially have the "same mentality."

"It's about what's the customer challenge, how do you deliver the business outcome, how do you grow the business—how do you grow with those customers?" Sullivan said.

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