When Hurricane Harvey ripped through Texas last year, Wholesome Sweeteners Chief Financial Officer Patty Moses was left reeling with a corporate headquarters that was severely damaged and her own home under four feet of water.
The hurricane couldn't have come at a worse time, given that Wholesome Sweeteners was in the process of closing out its fiscal year.
With corporate headquarters offline, Moses turned to her trusted IT managed services partner, Houston-based Computex Technology Solutions, to keep the $200 million company and its 75 employees up and running.
Fortunately, Moses said her company had made a big bet six years ago on Computex as its one-stop, end-to-end IT infrastructure and managed services provider from desktop devices and help desk to VoIP and data center services.
Computex, in fact, provided a safe haven for Wholesome Sweeteners employees who were able to operate out of Computex's state-of-the-art Houston Solutions Center with raised floors and a working space for customers in the case of an emergency like Hurricane Harvey.
Wholesome Sweeteners employees have been working out of the Houston Solutions Center for the past six months as one of the benefits of its managed services agreement with Computex.
"Computex made their own space available to us and got us set up so the company could come in and work there," said Moses in an interview from the Houston Solutions Center. "They were a huge lifesaver. I don't know of any company that could do what Computex did for us."
Moses said what separated Computex from other IT service providers the company evaluated was its ability to offer a complete end-to-end outsourced IT offering for Wholesome Sweeteners. "I was looking for a company that could handle all of our needs from phone and internet to network and help desk," she said. "Computex was the only one we could find that could be that one-stop shop for us. Bringing them on board as a partner was a great decision."
Brainware For The Cloud Era
Computex, for its part, regards its blend of super smart solution architects and engineers and its services team manning state-of-the-art managed services centers as its own brand of brainware. That brainware is responsible for keeping 115 managed services customers of all sizes up and running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Computex likes to say it focuses on IT so its customers can focus on business.
Computex CEO Frank Vitagliano, who recently celebrated his first anniversary at the helm, has taken that Computex Brainware and put it on steroids with a slew of new managed services offerings including managed security with advanced end point protection and full threat hunting and mitigation and a managed public cloud offering that includes disaster recovery as a service with Microsoft Azure.
Next week, Vitagliano and the Computex team will celebrate the new expanded managed services portfolio at its first annual Accelerate sales kickoff. The two-day conference for Computex customers will feature keynotes by Vitagliano, Computex Chief Technology Officer Worth Davis, Computex Vice President of Cloud and Cybersecurity Faisal Bhutto and Computex Senior Vice President of Sales Matthew Brennan along with key executives from Cisco, Aruba and Cylance.
Vitagliano said Accelerate is an opportunity for the company to shine the spotlight on its brainware talent and its ability to act as a digital transformation catalyst for businesses.
"When you look at the talent that we have in our data center practice, there is no solution provider our size who is better positioned in the market," said Vitagliano."Oftentimes when we whiteboard the possibilities for customers, a new service gets built by our team. That is really powerful. It's pretty cool. Customers feel really good about that. They know we are connected directly to them not just as an entity they bought a pre-determined set of managed services from. We are not just monitoring their networks. We are their all-purpose solution provider."
The central nervous system of that managed services effort is the Houston Solutions Center that powers all of the company's cloud services. No small matter given that relatively few MSPs of Computex's size have built out their own state-of-the-art hosting facility/data center. It's the kind of facility that has every bit of the technology muscle of some of the largest technology service providers in the world, but with a high-touch, customer model base.
The Houston Solutions Center facility – which is backed up by a Minneapolis 24/7/365 data center facility – is the lifeline for multiyear managed services customers with up-to-the-minute data, storage, VoIP, internet services and network monitoring and management feeds that provide real-time feedback on customer IT operations.
The Houston Solutions Center is a state-of-the-art suspended data center with blastproof Kevlar walls, bulletproof glass and workspaces for clients impacted by an outage. The facility even includes sleeping accommodations, shower and laundry facilities. That facility – one of the company's crown jewels -- was a lifesaver of sorts for businesses like Wholesome Sweeteners that were able to keep up and running without missing a beat after Hurricane Harvey.
"That facility provides us a huge competitive advantage," said Vitagliano. "Customers love it. It differentiates us. Most solution providers of our size couldn't make this kind of investment. It would be hard for anyone in our market segment to provide the complete and total package of services that we have. We manage it all."
As for passing technology muster, the network operations center has received the most rigorous data center certifications including SOC and SSAE-16. But Computex is most proud of its Cisco Gold Triple Master with certifications in collaboration, cloud and security. That certification is carried by less than 50 partners in the country.
Bhutto, one of the driving forces behind Computex's growing managed services footprint, saidthe Houston data center's biggest asset is the company's top technical and services talent. That high-touch Computex-badged employee managed services model is no small matter given how frequently some solution providers use third parties.
"We don't outsource," said Bhutto. "We have found that we can deliver the highest-quality product and most innovation by having our own folks – not depending on a third party. We have a been a 24/7, 365-days-a-year shop for the last eight years. Our promise to customers is service delivery, uptime and customer satisfaction."
Among the company's most popular cloud-powered services are managed infrastructure (full 24/7 management, monitoring and remediation of compute, storage, virtualization, firewalls, routers, switches, wireless) and managed security (full 24/7 management monitoring and remediation of endpoint protection, managed firewall, secure email, data encryption, mobile device management and application monitoring).
Computex also provides voice, video, collaboration and call center, managed internet service provider, hosted wireless, Infrastructure-as-a-Service, off-site backup and disaster recovery with hybrid cloud support.
Bhutto said the company is particularly proud of its status as a Lit Fibre provider – owning and maintaining all of its own data center equipment with connections to multiple providers including Comcast, Level 3 and AT&T. Most MSPs do not have the Lit Fibre capability – preventing them from providing a single bill for an end-to-end comprehensive services offering including the connection to the internet.
"We are the trusted true service provider for our customers with MPLS, Ethernet and a variety of connectivity so our customers can get consumption-based cloud services directly from us," said Bhutto. "At the customer location there is nothing but a switch and it is all managed and monitored by Computex-badged employees."
That Lit Fibre status with the ability to drive the fastest, most reliable and most economical bandwidth has also opened the door to solutions innovation, said Bhutto. "It is very unique how we can leverage our service provider business to innovate," he said. "We are architecting solutions for customers that can be piloted on our managed services network."