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CDI’s New CEO Rich Falcone Talks ‘Change Or Die’ Motto, M&A

“We’re adapting to what the market’s doing. We’re pushing our competition out. Quite frankly, we’re share shifting, we’re growing and that’s exciting to people. Change or die is real,” says CDI’s new CEO, Rich Falcone, in an interview with CRN.

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Can you give me some examples of customers needing CDI to ‘change or die’?

Right now, a lot of developers and application owners went to the public cloud. They went to the hyperscalers for certain workloads and they had a phenomenal experience. They logged on to a service portal, pressed a button, and they got what they wanted for their technology workload environment within seconds, and it worked perfectly. Then for the applications that need to remain hybrid, which in our client base is quite a bit, they want that same experience. They want that developer to receive their Kubernetes-based environment, container-based environment, within seconds through a service portal leveraging automation. And they want it to feel like they shouldn’t know the difference if it’s public or private.

So to do that, there’s a lot of things you have to do that you as an organization that probably didn’t do four or five years ago. You have to have some sort of ITSM [IT Service Management] service portal experience and we partner heavily with ServiceNow for these type of things. Also keeping things like your CMDB [Configuration Management Database] up to date is a lot more challenging when you’re in five clouds and four on-premise data centers. You’re trying to automate everything -- not just the network, not just the compute and the IaaS, but you’re trying to automate the entire experience for the end user. You’re trying to secure it across multi-cloud, across multiple sites, and you’re probably leveraging software-definition wherever possible.

Objectively, five years ago, CDI couldn’t have brought a lot to that conversation because a lot of those problems weren’t here. We had to go grow both organically and inorganically. In the last couple years, we’ve had four acquisitions that have brought us a lot of capabilities in these spaces, as well as made us deeper and more scalable in what I’ll call the traditional spaces around the foundational infrastructure stuff.

So we have a lot of accounts who say, ‘Look, we’ve been buying networking or storage or compute from this vendor for the last 15 years. We like the company, but they just don’t have what it takes to software-define my network, to automate my service delivery, to set up the service portal. It should feel like the public and private are the same experience. They just don’t have these [solutions for us]. And CDI, the more and more we interact with you, the more we realize that you have the answers.”

Look, if someone can’t provide these sort of modern services, and as-a-service-driven conversation, it might be time to look for a new partner. … A lot of customer conversations are around the operating model conversations, the DevOps conversation, the infrastructure as code conversation, the digital transformation conversation, the service portal, etc. those happen first. Those conversations are six months to a year before they decide what the right infrastructure is to land on.

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