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How SADA Systems’ Big Bet On Google Propelled The Firm To $1B In Bookings

‘We felt like we had a chance to pounce — to truly become what the WWT or Presidio did with Cisco — to go all-in early,’ says Tony Safoian, CEO of SADA Systems.

SADA Systems knows a thing or two about making tough calls. The cloud-focused MSP two years ago sold off its Microsoft business to focus exclusively on the third-largest cloud player in the market: Google.

The Los Angeles-based firm in March 2019 divested its Microsoft business, which was valued at about $25 million at the time, to solution provider Core BTS so it could turn all of its attention to its Google Cloud business. The company took a big bet that specializing would help propel it to growth, according to Tony Safoian, CEO of SADA Systems.

“We decided to go in the exact opposite direction of our competitors. We’re going to go all-in with the No. 3 cloud player,” he said during his interview at The Channel Company’s NexGen+ 2021 event.

SADA’s Microsoft divestiture left the firm with about 160 employees in 2019. The 21-year-old MSP today has 510 employees, mostly located in the U.S. and Canada.

The bet paid off. The company in 2021 hit $1 billion in bookings.

[Related: SADA CEO Tony Safoian Answers 6 Big Questions On Cloud Growth]

It wasn’t luck. Safoian said that focusing on the Google Cloud Platform ecosystem — one that wasn’t fully understood by the channel or even business customers at the time — allowed the company to tap into a niche space and help businesses transform.

“Customers moving to Azure, for the most part, were the exact same company before and after. They went from Exchange on premise to Office 365, and used it in the same exact way,” he said. “Every customer we deployed on Google completely changed — their culture shifted, the way they collaborated was different, and they forcibly had to learn new, amazing technologies.”

The work became “transformational, fun and rewarding,” Safoian added.

Despite having a roughly $25 million Microsoft business, SADA was disproportionality important to Google compared to Microsoft, Safoian said. “We knew we were never going to be critically important to Microsoft,” he added.

Google, on the other hand, more regularly brought in SADA to larger customer engagements. “We felt like we had a chance to pounce — to truly become what the WWT or Presidio did with Cisco — to go all-in early,” Safoian said.

Channel partners always have to make hard decisions that involve changing up business strategies, said Nalit Patel, CEO of All Solutions, Inc., a Livingston, N.J.-based solution provider.

Making a switch can be difficult for any customer base, he said, but it’s all in how the trusted partner presents the change to their end customers, Patel said.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, for example, All Solutions “froze” for 30 days to internally figure out what to do to adapt to new and sudden customer requirements. The company’s quick thinking led to a gain of 7-8 new customers and three years’ worth of revenue earned in six months thanks to demand in hardware, services, and new remote working offerings, Patel said.

“That is why we always look at the best of the breed, and the second best of breed,” he said. “We will always keep an eye out and see what the industry is doing. And if the second best is ready to displace the first, we have to shift and adapt to that.”

SADA’s Safoian credits his company’s success to having the right people in place that believe the solutions they are delivering are valuable and transformational.

“You have to have a great sense of responsibility to sell well and win in a deal that can literally send a company down a different direction,” he said. ”That contract, this journey that [the customer] is signing up for, it has the potential to make a massive impact to that company.”

The company in 2019 brought on Miles Ward, formerly Google Cloud’s director and global lead of solutions, as its CTO. Investing in the right people for the job — especially at the executive level — can inspire other talent to join the team, Safoian said.

The biggest mistake that solution providers can make is not only making tough decisions, but also making the critical — and at times, expensive — hires, he said.

“I had to go find the best CTO on the planet for how we were going to transform,” he said. “A lot of partners do something well and say, ‘I want to buy a boat.’ I hired Miles Ward. Now, the kinds of people that now want to come to work at SADA to be in Miles’ orbit is crazy.”

 

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