Dimension Data CEO Lays Out $12 Billion Plan

The South African-headquartered systems integrator is in the midst of a cloud-computing service offensive: doubling down on providing its own Dimension Data-branded IT service offerings. Just last week, the SP500 powerhouse acquired Australian managed security services provider Earthwave, Corp.

"As we go forward in the next five to 10 years, we are going to have to provide a lot more [IT-as-a-service] platforms, a lot more infrastructure ourselves," said Dawson in a keynote address at the Dimension Data 2013 Perspectives analyst conference in Cambridge, Mass.

[Related: Dimension Data Joins Amazon, Rackspace With Three-Tiered Cloud Storage ]

"Customers are searching for a different model," said Dawson, speaking about the increasing demand for cloud-computing service offerings combined with traditional on-premise infrastructure. "The old model of owning and running the whole data center is just not where they want to be."

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One big advantage as Dimension Data expands its cloud-computing services footprint: the financial muscle of its parent corporation, Japanese telecommunications giant NTT, the $133 billion global powerhouse that was ranked as the 29th largest company in the world by Fortune. NTT acquired Dimension Data nearly three years ago.

"In the future as things move more toward IT as a service, we are going to have to put a lot of that CapEx [capital expenditure] in place [to build out cloud service infrastructure]," said Dawson. "We are going to have to run that. That is going to take cash. That is going to take a big investment. NTT brought a lot of that to the table. I think that culture sets us apart."

Dimension Data, in fact, is considered one of the leaders in the race among system integrators to deliver a new era of next-generation cloud services. At the same time, Dawson said, Dimension Data is leveraging its systems integration legacy as a "key differentiator."

"As the world moves to things like cloud computing, this is going to set us apart even more because clients are going to need some kind of hybrid environment," he said. "They are not going to take a whole data center and move it all to the cloud day one -- no way. We want to be the guys that can manage that complexity. It is about local and global. We have the feet on the street."

That feet on the street for the company, which has 21,000 employees and is adding about 3,000 new employees every year, is one of the keys to an impressive 30-percent compound growth rate over the last two years for the company's outsourcing business.

"Today we are pushing hard into consulting/managed services/IT outsourcing," said Dawson. "We have been building that services layer very focused on execution." That ability to execute under crises conditions with top-notch people is what sets Dimension Data apart, said Dawson.

When Hurricane Sandy struck New York last October, it was Dimension Data that was called in to restore voice service for a government agency. Dimension Data rushed into action providing a critical "link up" that restored service in just two hours. "That is execution," said Dawson. "That is about making it happen."

Dimension Data Americas CEO Jere Brown said the key to Dimension Data's success is educating customers on the "breadth and depth" of the company's IT-as-a-service/outsourcing offerings. "The one thing I hear most often is 'I didn't know you did that," he said. "I think that is our biggest challenge. Our portfolio is bigger than it has ever been, and we have to do a more effective job of communicating the breadth and depth of that and how we stack up against AWS [Amazon Web Services] in the infrastructure-as-a-service space and CSC [Computer Sciences Corp.] in the outsourcing space."