Reaching The Top: Solution Provider Superstar 10th Magnitude Achieves Microsoft MSP Expert Status


Born-in-the-cloud managed service provider 10th Magnitude went all-in early with Microsoft and its decision to work closely with Microsoft cloud technology has paid off.

10th Magnitude has become the first pure-play Azure partner to achieve Microsoft MSP Expert status, the pinnacle of Microsoft's partner program, Alex Brown, CEO of 10th Magnitude, told CRN.

"We are being recognized as a leader in the cloud transformation and outsourced management space," Brown said. "When people think about tackling that task, we do that better than any of the traditional big players that have been traditionally premise-based providers that might be pretending to do cloud today."

The Chicago-based MSP is joining an exclusive group of about 40 other Microsoft MSP Experts. Microsoft first announced the new program and 32 partners in July.

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The journey toward earning MSP Expert status is fraught -- A process that Brown called "super in-depth" that requires a full audit of a MSP's entire business.

"We went through every aspect of our business, from our professional services organization, through managed services. It was a huge effort for our team internally, which included about a fifth of our organization involved in passing this audit," he said.

Founded in 2010, 10th Magnitude and its staff of about 100 is focused today on data center migration, data intelligence, DevOps and managed Azure cloud services. But when the company got its start eight years ago, it had to be discerning with what it was bringing to the table, and who it chose as partners, Brown said. The mission of 10th Magnitude has always been to help Corporate America shift from premise-based solutions to cloud computing.

"As a small organization, we had to be an expert at whatever we did, so we could only pick a couple of things. We had to pick a cloud partner and be the best with that partner," he said.

Clearly they chose wisely. The company went with Microsoft, which at the time had just launched the Azure cloud platform. Amazon Web Services, the other cloud giant on the market in 2010, didn't understand enterprise requirements the way Microsoft did at the time, Brown explained.

"I worked with Microsoft for years and I knew they understood the enterprise," he said. "They were the right decision for us."

While Microsoft, the second-largest cloud provider globally in terms of market share, doesn't release revenue figures for Azure, it does disclose growth rates. KeyBanc Capital Markets analysts in December estimated that Microsoft's Azure public cloud will generate more revenue than Windows in the 2021 fiscal year.

The secret to making money in the cloud, said Brown, is focus.

"To make money in the cloud, you have to only do cloud. There's a ton of need, the transformation businesses are going through is significant, and if you are comfortable standing tall and telling them how you can help them, there is a significant amount of budget available. Playing both ends against the middle will be a struggle because it's much easier for businesses to not make the cloud decision."

In 2017 10th Magnitude won Microsoft's Hybrid Cloud and Infrastructure Platform Partner of the Year Award, and in 2018 the provider was named the Microsoft Azure Partner of the Year. 10th Magnitude also holds a handful of Microsoft Gold-level competencies in areas such as DevOps, Cloud Platform, Application Development, Data Center, and Data Analytics.

Customers don't always have the right language or knowledge on the latest solutions that can help solve their business problems. That's where solution providers like 10th Magnitude come in. Today the company is helping customers evaluate emerging technologies, such as AI and blockchain, to help determine if those technologies can help them speed up their businesses or better meet the needs of their own end customers.

To be successful in emerging areas, 10th Magnitude regularly rallies its lead practitioners together to collaborate and share best practices and new ideas.

"It's though those sharing and storytelling sessions that [our employees] learn new ways of talking to their customers about the value we have been able to drive, and that permeates throughout the organization," Brown said.

10th Magnitude's employees are aligned tightly around using cloud, AI and DevOps to drive a superior level of innovation and customer engagement, he added.

Brown said that most importantly, solution providers can't even let themselves become complacent in the cloud market.

"Constantly be challenged, be asking questions, and looking forward," he said. "As soon as you think you've figured it out, the game is over for you."