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Chicago’s ServerCentral Turing Group Rebrands As Deft

‘Our mission now with Deft is to deliver on the promise of technology,’ CEO Jordan Lowe said.

ServerCentral Turing Group, a cloud, network and data center managed service provider also known as SCTG, has rebranded as Deft to better reflect its market offerings as it continues to build out its Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and consulting capabilities.

“We felt that the brand that we had was too limiting to service us going into the future for all the things we want to be doing for our customers,” said Eric Dynowski, chief technology officer for the Chicago-based Deft. “We wanted to tighten that up and re-present it back to the market so that better reflects what we’re capable of.”

Deft, which works with all public cloud platforms, is an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner and AWS Managed Service Partner that earned a spot this year on CRN’s MSP Elite 150 list. The company’s rebranding comes in its 21st year and two and a half years after ServerCentral acquired the Turing Group in December 2018 to combine their data center and public cloud expertise into hybrid offerings.

“Our mission now with Deft is to deliver on the promise of technology,” CEO Jordan Lowe said. “We want to tell [customers] that we’re going to be solving unique challenges with special technology. We listen first, we learn, and then we’re going to collaborate to figure out the solutions they need. It’s much more of a consulting, professional services discussion with the customer. We can both do the consulting and talk about everything from a high level, then also execute on that with most of our own people and our own technologies.”

Deft has experienced double-digit, year-over-year growth for the last decade and posted its best year in 2020, which the company declined to quantify. It hired 40 new employees in the last year across its business -- from salespeople, cloud engineers and software developers to data center engineers, network engineers and security engineers -- bringing its headcount to just over 140.

“We’ve really been expanding with our customers and bringing in new brands,” Lowe said. “A lot of companies have been, especially with the pandemic, doing more online. A lot of our customers, we find, like to...put their baseload or base storage into data centers with us, and then we connect them into…all the public clouds -- Amazon, Azure, Google. Then we help the customers take advantage of those where it makes sense. Hybrid ends up being what a lot of our customers end up doing, and just between us managing the data center part, the interconnection, the network and the infrastructure in the clouds, all that has been growing over the last couple years.”

Deft has built out its Azure capabilities over the last year.

“Google’s on the horizon, possibly Oracle and IBM,” Dynowski said. “We… have customers that do use Google, and we do provide some services such as dedicated, low-latency transit into Google…but we look to expand that. Each of the clouds has hundreds of different services and unique characteristics, and so customers are kind of just shifting a lot of that complexity to us and asking us to figure out how to make it work. We want to be there and show up for our customers, regardless of what their infrastructure technology needs are.”

Deft tapped its AWS expertise when it worked on a project for Metra, a commuter railroad in the Chicago metropolitan area. Deft built out the infrastructure that runs Metra’s website and distributes all the real-time transit data from its trains.

“When the Cubs won the World Series [in 2016], the mayor of Chicago announced that there was going to be a parade,” Dynowski said. “And as soon as the date and time of the parade was announced, millions of people hit the Metra website to pull up schedules and figure out which train they could take to get down into the city. The infrastructure and software that we built for them auto-scaled -- we didn’t miss a beat. We had something like a 400 percent spike in traffic. We design systems and solutions within the cloud providers and internally on our platforms that are going to meet with those unique and specific use cases for our customers.”

Deft also maintains its Chicago datacenter, and colocation services still account for about 60 percent of its business.

“Our colocation services are a little bit different than what you’re going to find with an Equinix or a PTS,” Lowe said. “Our colocation service is more of a managed service, and we do allow hybrid cloud, for example. What’s going on in the data centers has kind of shifted over the past couple years. A lot of people are moving to the big cloud providers, but...our data center business is still growing. We’re seeing a lot more AI GPU storage, high-power density kind of stuff.”

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