It took nearly a decade and a pandemic, but it is now safe to say that the Cloud is considered now a major benchmark of digital transformation. Whether you have fully adopted the could or you are just beginning your journey, you may be asking “What´s next?”. In today´s episode, Penny Conway, your host, is talking with experts from Veeam and Microsoft to answer your questions around security, integration, and managed services.
Host: Penny Conway
Guest 1: Stacy Cote: Manager of Microsoft Program at Connection Team.
Guest 2: Matt Koehler: Global Business Development for Veeam Software
[1:14] Matt introduces himself and shares what brings him to the podcast
[1:39] Stacy Cote talks about her role at Connection.
[4:05] Matt shares about the digital transformation and introduction of Cloud nearly a decade ago.
[6:22] Nowadays there is a common fear about how to manage workload, employees, and connectivity.
[7:22] Stacy talks about some of the push-backs to the adoption of the cloud.
[10:34] The skill gap of being able to manage what makes the company operational today.
[11:13] What is entailed in managing a service or a solution?
[13:07] Matt talks about the benefits related to the partnership that Connection has with Veeam.
[15:38] Microsoft, Connection, and Veeam work together to secure and restore data.
[16:35] What would make a customer trust Veeam with his data?
[17:41] Matt talks about the increase of security risk with remote working.
[19:24] The most important, apart from securing data, is being able to get it back in a timely manner.
[21:20] How prevalent is going to be hiring a company to managed services?
[23:30] How do people get started with a managed services model for their cloud?
[25:55] When does a customer start to realize the cost-benefit of using managed services?
[27:46] What visibility does a customer maintain while using the managed services?
[30:38] Learn more about the partnership between Connection and Veeam
Transcript of Episode 80 of the TechSperience Podcast
Penny Conway (00:02):
It took nearly a decade and a pandemic, but I think it’s safe to say that cloud is now considered a major benchmark of digital transformation. Whether you have fully adopted the cloud or you’re just beginning your journey, you may be asking what’s next? I’m your host Penny Conway, and on today’s all new episode of Connection TechSperience I’m sitting down with experts from Veeam and Microsoft to answer your questions around cloud security, integration, and my favorite topic, managed services.
Penny Conway (01:00):
Stacy and Matt, welcome to the podcast.
Matt Koehler (01:04):
Thank you, Penny.
Stacy Cote (01:05):
Thank you, Penny.
Penny Conway (01:06):
So, excited to have you both here because you are newbies to the Connection TechSperience podcast. Let’s start with Matt, why don’t you do an introduction of yourself, what you do, and what brings you to the podcast today?
Matt Koehler (01:20):
Yeah, absolutely. Matt Koehler, I lead global business development for Veeam Software, focusing specifically on the Microsoft alliance, So, work with our top channel partners to make sure that they’re enabled to drive solutions for customers.
Penny Conway (01:36):
Excellent. Welcome, we’re excited to have you. And Stacy, how about you?
Stacy Cote (01:40):
Stacy Cotehere, from Connection. I manage our Microsoft Cloud programs here at Connection, and most recently have taking on building an Azure managed services practice.
Penny Conway (01:52):
Excellent, exciting. For those listeners out there, Stacy and I have worked together for about five years So, this is really exciting, because I have been able to really watch Stacy, what you’ve done with our Microsoft Cloud practice. So, really looking forward to digging into what you’ve done, and Matt, that overarching alliance of Microsoft and Veeam. And ultimately get to, in our podcast, some solution conversation for what’s going on in the world today.
Penny Conway (02:24):
I want to start out, because we were having a little bit of conversation before we get started. There has been So, much conversation since the pandemic hit about digital transformation, and everyone having to … Cloud sales are up one million percent, collaboration tools across the board are what everyone’s looking for. And, over the past couple of weeks, I have this thought in my head, and I’d like to ask both of you, Matt and Stacy, what your take is on it. I sit here, as someone who talks about technology solutions, who has talked to customers endlessly over the last five years about different technology solutions, and the digital transformation, and why they needed all of these wonderful things in order to move their business forward. A pandemic hit, and a lot of companies and organizations found themselves in a little bit of a pickle, because they hadn’t really heeded the advice of many providers to start transforming in order to get them through any sort of future pandemic, because that’s what we’re in. Or, just future state of how to grow.
Penny Conway (03:39):
Now, I’m seeing an opportunity, moving forward, where we’re looking to introduce things, like you’re saying maybe backup or managed services, as the next wave of advice and solutions that we’re looking for customers to take advantage of. Matt, I know you have a tremendous amount of experience in this world. What’s your take on the last decade? Where you’ve been talking to customers about we’ve got to do some cloud operations, we’ve got to do some backup, we’ve got to start your digital transformation. What has your experience been in that push and pull of customers not wanting to make that switch, and then finding themselves in a real tough spot once a major disaster like a pandemic happens?
Matt Koehler (04:25):
Yeah, and it’s a great point, Penny, and it’s something that we’ve seen. I think people have understood that there’s always been that need to transform, create efficiencies, being able to run your business more efficiently. We’ve constantly communicated that, and what we’ve seen is we’ve seen a good portion of organizations that we work with work closely with us, to help guide them through this journey of transformation.
Matt Koehler (04:50):
I will tell you, though, that since March it’s been a completely different story. What you’ve seen is there’s a lot of fear out there, and that fear has caused people to look back at what they’ve done in the past and try to make changes for the future. So, we’ve seen it absolutely accelerate the fact that they understand they need to transform. And this could be from complex things of AI and machine learning, to implementation of 5G for better networking and whatnot. But, it could be as simplistic as the migration of your on-premise exchange to the cloud, to create more efficiencies.
Matt Koehler (05:29):
That’s what we’re seeing today, is with the pandemic hitting, and the remote worker becoming more prevalent, they are absolutely doubling down on how they can empower their workforce to be more efficient. It’s tough times, and technology gives them the ability to make change and become more efficient. We’re definitely seeing this accelerate at a very, very high rate. And working with partners like Connection has been great because they have that trust built, often times with these customers, and they bring us in and we work together to help them on this journey.
Penny Conway (06:07):
Matt, you made an excellent point, that there is a tremendous amount of fear in this current time. Not necessarily fear in the traditional sense when someone’s talking about a pandemic, the fear that that brings up alone, but more of the fear of how do we manage our workloads, and how do we manage employees, and end users, and connectivity, and all of this stuff. I imagine there are a few people looking back, and trying to … Or, maybe they’re not. I tend to look back and go, “Was there a moment that I could have really made a better decision to make my life easier now?”
Penny Conway (06:48):
Stacy, I want to ask you because you, like I mentioned, have spent a significant amount of time really setting up the cloud practice for Microsoft, and engaging with what end users are going to need in order to make that part of their digital transformation. Without digging too much into the weeds of looking back and what we should have done, I think it’s important to set the foundation of when you were starting on that journey, Stacy, to bring cloud solutions to customers with Microsoft. What was some of the pushback to adoption that you had at the time? That you remember going, “This is the biggest objection that we’re getting today, and we need to figure out a way to overcome it.” Do you remember that far back? I don’t think it was that long ago, but it seems like a million years.
Stacy Cote (07:36):
It does, it does. I think, again, it goes back to fear, the customer didn’t know what they didn’t know. I think they were just fearful of moving to the cloud. Cost certainly was a concern to a lot of customers, but at the end of the day moving to the cloud ends up saving them a great amount of money. And, they needed the help to get there, and they didn’t really know who to turn to. That’s where we come in, as Connection. We’ll take them from the very beginning through the very end. We’ve got consulting services, we’ve got our Azure Five Star, and we really just dig in and take a look at the client’s needs, and then present to them exactly how we fit into the equation and become an extension of their team, to help them get to the cloud and manage the cloud.
Penny Conway (08:32):
Have both of you seen … like we just said, the past six months feels like about 18 months in some cases. In all honesty guys, I look back at March and it feels like another decade. It’s the strangest feeling, as I’m sure you guys can relate.
Stacy Cote (08:50):
I don’t even know what day it is.
Penny Conway (08:53):
My father-in-law’s retired, and he watches my daughter a couple days. Not him, my mother-in-law watches my daughter a couple days a week. He always would be like, “Oh, what day is it? Is she coming tomorrow, is it the next day?” I was like, “God it must be So, nice to be retired, where you just have no idea what day it is.” And then, here we are, I’m not quite sure if it’s Tuesday, Wednesday. Is it Monday? We’re not quite sure.
Stacy Cote (09:19):
I’m sorry to interrupt, but I was just thinking, too, back to your question. Again, I feel as though now with this pandemic, So, many things have happened. IT staffs are being cut in half, as well, So, that’s something that’s been a concern for our customers. Not having the expertise, because they don’t have onsite Azure experts to guide them with that transition. Again, those are some of the main concerns.
Penny Conway (09:49):
That’s an excellent point Stacy, is not only the cutting of IT resources, but I think a new trend that we’re starting to see is really the skills gap that’s in place in many IT departments. With the adoption of the cloud, with that infrastructure in place, some of the more traditional IT roles and expertise that existed aren’t as-
Stacy Cote (10:14):
Penny Conway (10:15):
Yes, perfect. They’re not as relevant as they were. And now, you’ve got all this new wave of technology that the adoption rate is at lightning speed over the past six months or so, and now you’ve got a significant skills gap in being able to manage what it is that’s keeping your company operational today. Is that what you’re hearing? Not necessarily about the cutting of IT resources, but are you also seeing, “All right, we want to make this move, but we have no idea who or how we’re actually going to manage these things once we put them in place?”
Stacy Cote (10:53):
That’s exactly it, you hit the nail on the head. That is exactly it.
Penny Conway (10:58):
What are some of the thing … I typically don’t like to get too deep into solutioning this early on, but I think it’s a really good opportunity to dig into the details of what is entailed in managing a service or a solution. If someone’s looking to do an O365 rollout, and they’re looking to cascade that across and bring in Veeam services, what sort of backend management does an organization need to have in place in order to effectively operate that sort of set up?
Stacy Cote (11:35):
We haven’t built Azure managed services for Office 365 quite yet, So, we’re Azure predominantly right now. We should go back to Matt, too, to fit in some Veeam.
Matt Koehler (11:46):
Yeah, I think this is good because Stacy, what we’re trying to get to is obviously provide some teasers around the VBO, So, the Veeam backup for Office 365 managed service that you guys can provide. But, I think it hits on the skillset piece, where you guys can do the professional services which range from the implementation, the deployment, but then if the customer wants a turnkey solution, you guys can provide that as well, right? A full managed service, where the customer can pick up the phone at two o’clock in the morning and say, “Look, I need a restore of this data,” and you guys can provide that. That’s where we’re getting to as an organization, in this partnership together. I think it’s a good point.
Penny Conway (12:30):
Yeah. Not necessarily needing to explain Stacy, the full services portfolio of what we can offer, but if a customer was looking to do this on their own, what required skills need to be there, what sort of time? How does that shake up, and shift, and really blow a hole in what an IT department is doing today, in order to accomplish what they want to accomplish tomorrow?
Matt Koehler (13:01):
What sets Connection apart from a lot of the other partners is that they’re a VASP certified partner with Veeam, So, they’re a Veeam accredited service provider which means that they’ve got the seal of approval, the stamp of approval saying hey, they’ve taken all the necessary trainings, they got representation within their organization that can deliver services at the level that expected from Veeam, from Microsoft and whatnot, too. That is a designation that Connection has, that there’s not a lot that have that level. It goes to show their expertise, within this field, in this area.
Penny Conway (13:39):
Wow, that’s excellent. I think probably one of the greatest fear factors, because we’ve talked about fear a lot, and I think both of you have alluded to it, it’s being able to move in this direction, but feeling So, strapped down by just not knowing enough. I think that that’s one of the fears that folks have, in addition to resources and skills gap, is that I hear all these wonderful things that organizations like Veeam, and Microsoft, and Connection are doing, and they’re sharing all these wonderful outcomes that my competitors are having, but I feel like I just don’t know enough about it, I don’t enough of the steps, I don’t know where I would start. Are you seeing that fear? I mean, everyone’s done what they need to do to get by over the last six months, but are you seeing this longer term fear of how do I successfully deploy and actually manage something to be a success case within my own right?
Stacy Cote (14:42):
Well not only that, but having to do it in a fairly small timeframe. They’re under a time crunch and they’ve got to do it now. Again, going back to not having the skillsets, not having the necessary resources to do so, and such a short timeframe.
Matt Koehler (15:02):
That’s what So, great about the partnership is what we’ve done we’ve come together, the three organizations, Microsoft, Veeam, and Connection and really have built a roadmap. We talked about the transformation journey at the beginning. But we’ve created a roadmap that is going to make it easy for the customer on this journey. We’re speaking specifically data protection, but if you look across transformation, the core of it is data. Every single thing related to digital transformation is data related, and that’s really where Connection and Veeam, and Microsoft shine. To be able to protect that data, give you control of the data, and then be able to restore it if there’s some kind of security threat, or something of that nature.
Penny Conway (15:47):
Security it feels like it’s sometimes a buzzword. Of course, I think that was one of the biggest hesitancies of moving to the cloud.
Matt Koehler (15:59):
Penny Conway (15:59):
You know, 10 years ago when it came up was, “I’m sorry, you want me to put all of my company data where?” I think that that’s definitely been a challenge that many companies are getting over, because they’re seeing one, the tried and true security practices. But two, everyone is moving their data, everyone has their data somewhere, and it’s a matter of where you’re putting it and what its protections are.
Penny Conway (16:27):
I know that Microsoft and Veeam, very huge on security. Give me a little bit of an overview of what would make a customer trust you guys with your data, over somebody else?
Matt Koehler (16:47):
Yeah. I would say, and it’s a great point, and security was one of things I was going to say at the beginning there, too, a cost as Stacy stated. But, from a security perspective, I think we’ve gotten past, like you said 10 years ago, that was the single hindrance for people to move to the cloud. And what we’ve talked about, and what Stacy and I have talked about is during this roadmap, it’s how do we show them to take some easy first workloads to the cloud. Where it could be simple backups of certain applications and that aren’t mission critical, and give them the ability to test it, get comfortable. And then, start exploring migrating other workloads. Obviously, as we’ve talked, the pandemic has fast forwarded that, people are moving a lot more. But the security piece, I think we’ve gotten it down pretty well.
Matt Koehler (17:33):
It was interesting. Veeam did an internal survey on the six reasons, from a security standpoint, as you look at how the remote worker … That’s the new normal, is the remote worker. And with that remote worker, there’s an increased security risk across the board. They’re on mobile devices, they’re logging in via public Wi-Fi in cases, there’s a number of different reasons. We worked with IDC, who’s an industry analyst organization, and a great paper of six reasons why you need to protect your data, especially when it’s in Office 365, which we all know, remote workers are using more and more. It’s absolutely exploded since March.
Penny Conway (18:18):
I am definitely trying to adopt.
Matt Koehler (18:20):
Yeah, a lot of people are.
Penny Conway (18:22):
It’s taking …
Stacy Cote (18:24):
As you should, Penny.
Penny Conway (18:27):
I always say, I talk about technology a lot, I know a fair amount about it, but when it comes to adopting it myself, man, do I sympathize with people who are slow to adopt new technology.
Matt Koehler (18:37):
Right. It’s a good point. I think what they see with us is that we do a very, very good job of communicating the benefits of, “Look, you need to have a backup of your data.” We, all the time, preach the Three, Two, One Rule, which is three copies of your data, two types of storage devices, and one in the cloud. Just to reinforce that digital transformation process.
Matt Koehler (19:06):
But what we’re seeing, and we saw with our internal survey was, number one, accidental deletion, which we’ve all done. Accidental deletion of emails, things like that. But that’s more of an internal threat, where you have … Which we hear every day, external security threats of ransomware, rogue apps, different things like that. And I think what we’ve done a really good job of is showing our customers that yes we do a good job of backing up their data, but what’s even more important is getting that data back, and getting it back in a timely manner. Going back to the vast accreditation that Connection has, they can do it best. They’ve been validated through Veeam to be able to not only deploy, but alSo, to manage backups, and then restore those backups for the customer as well. They have gone above and beyond the competition, to do just that.
Penny Conway (19:59):
That’s excellent. When we talk about the partnership, and the ability to have, Stacy you mentioned it earlier, having the resources, and Matt you mentioned and knowledge. We look back at, as I said in the opener, this past decade of cloud adoption, and the challenge to convince customers that the right move was a digital transformation in whatever form it might be, specifically around the cloud. And when we look at what’s next, I think we’ve all said it a few times, it’s having the right resources to actually put a solution in place, put an environment in place. I love the Three, Two, One Rule, by the way. If you guys haven’t written something about that you should, because I think it’s really great.
Penny Conway (20:46):
But, we talk about managed services a lot. It’s one of my favorite topics, it’s part of what I do here at Connection as well. I almost feel like we’re going to see history repeat itself a little bit, of we’re barking up the digital transformation tree, upgrade your devices, upgrade your network, move to the cloud. Is the next wave going to be have someone else manage these things for you? And if so, how do you think we avoid that message falling on deaf ears again? Where it’s going to take another pandemic for folks to go, “Oh, I really should have taken them up on that managed services offer to see what it could do for me, because now I’m in another pickle.” What’s coming for managed services, from your point of view Matt and Stacy, in terms of how prevalent is it going to be across the cloud in general, but alSo, as a way of doing business moving forward? How important, and how much weight do organizations need to be putting on that now, in order to be prepared for the future?
Matt Koehler (21:56):
I would say that what we’ve seen with this new normal we’ve talked about is the sense of urgency to outsource where you’re not an expert has increased drastically. What we’re seeing is the need for managed services is there. I think that organizations like Connection can communicate that even better, because they’ve got the relationships with customers that already trust them. They can position it as you don’t have to be the expert, you can rely on Connection. They work with a number of different ISVs like Veeam, like Microsoft, to give them that level of expertise at a reduced cost. Instead of having all these experts internally, you can work with Connection and be able to have the service that you need, without the capital expenditures that come with you providing it yourself. And then, the people expertise that Connection has as well. It’s a good partnership, for sure. Like I said, there’s definitely a sense of urgency with the things that we’ve seen recently.
Stacy Cote (23:02):
Yeah, I agree with what Matt said, wholeheartedly. Connection, we have the partnerships again, with Veeam and Microsoft. We have a vast amount of experts here at Connection to take the customer through that entire journey, and as well as helping them not only to onboard them, but to manage their entire infrastructure.
Penny Conway (23:27):
So, we’ve covered the why. How does someone get started with your team? What are the things that they need to come to the table with? What can they expect from the engagement? To see if moving to a managed services model for their cloud, for their Microsoft, and Veeam services, what does that look like for you and your team, Stacy?
Stacy Cote (23:51):
Sure. Everything is going to go through their account manager. We have three managed services offerings on the table. Again, there’s no contract, it’s month-to-month. There are three flavors, we don’t have to go through them in this venue. But, they would contact their account manager, in which then there is a survey that the customer would then just answer a simple 12 questions. That gets submitted to our Azure Cloud team for review. And then at that point, we engage the managed service practice to review that information as well, and then we just get on with the customer to schedule a technical pre-assessment with the client, just to go through their environment. At that point, we create an estimate if you will, effort and estimate document, that the customer will review with the team. At that point, we just go ahead and get them onboarded to the managed services.
Stacy Cote (24:53):
At that point, they’re assigned a technical account manager, and they will be in contact with them upon any events that occur within the environment. We’re going to be doing monthly health checks with the customer, just overall monitoring of the environment from a security perspective. And then, making sure that they’re getting the best bang for their buck, as well as cost optimization which is important, making sure they’re utilizing resources appropriately, and then making changes as needed to help them with those costs.
Penny Conway (25:28):
Now cost, that’s always that wonderful four-letter word that customers love. When I think about moving to any sort of managed services model, when you look upfront you’re like, “Oh God, I’m going to pay X amount of dollars, and I’ve got people in my bullpen that I could train, I could do this.” This doesn’t need to be an exact science, because I think it’s one of those lingering questions that are out there. When do customers typically start to realize the cost benefit of using managed services? Is there an upfront time where you say, “Okay, for the first 30, to 60, to 90 days, is really a regulation period. We see what you’re doing with your data, what needs to be in place for backup, this, that. After that, we can start doing some optimization where you might be able to save, or where you need to invest more?” Does that engagement happen? Is that part of this? Is that something that customers see and realize?
Stacy Cote (26:32):
It absolutely is a part of it, and it’s typically within the first 90 days that they’re onboarded. We were able to actually save one of our customers about 556% less than what they were paying previously.
Penny Conway (26:48):
Stacy Cote (26:49):
Yeah. So, big savings, big savings there.
Penny Conway (26:55):
Is just in a true cost sense? Or, does that alSo, include things like your uptime is increased? Or downtime decreased, however you want to put it, and that downtime could account for X amount of dollars. Are things like that part of that cost analysis? Or, are you just looking at dollars and cents?
Stacy Cote (27:16):
It is. It is part of that cost analysis. Again, we have a good, better, best model that we’ve created for managed services subscriptions, and those are available in our business packages and our enterprise packages.
Penny Conway (27:34):
Excellent. I put my customer hat on, and there’s always certain questions that I would ask at the tail end of the conversation. But, the next one is what visibility does a customer maintain with this environment? Because I know that’s alSo, one of the blockades is, “Even though I want a turnkey solution, I don’t want to lose visibility into what is happening, and feel like I’ve lost control.” What are they able to see and control, while they use the managed services that Connection, and Microsoft, and Veeam are offering them?
Stacy Cote (28:10):
It’s funny that you mention that, because when we embarked on this managed services endeavor, that was a huge concern to our clients initially. We do allow them access. They have the option to have fully managed by Connection, but we can alSo, grant them full access as well, and visibility. It’s really up to them. There are a lot of customers that do want to maintain control and that level of visibility, So, we do offer that as well, as a part of this.
Penny Conway (28:41):
Excellent. Matt, anything to add to what Stacy had? Or, expand on it?
Matt Koehler (28:47):
Yeah. I would say that, based on the level of expertise of the customer, just like Stacy said, good, better, best, they’ve got something that will fit the needs of the customer. If the customer wants to do their own resource, they have the ability to do that based off of what Connection is going to provide to them.
Matt Koehler (29:05):
It is, as I said from the beginning, it’s really the perfect partnership between our three organizations. We’re extremely customer focused, we’ve got the level of expertise from a technology perspective, as well as a service perspective, to make this very, very easy for the customer as they move down this journey with us. It’s good.
Penny Conway (29:27):
Excellent. Well, both of you have been a wealth of knowledge around the partnership between Microsoft and Veeam, and of course Connection being a key player in that.
Penny Conway (29:37):
If you are out there and you’re listening, and you are like we’ve talked about, one of those folks who maybe has taken a little bit longer to move into an adoption phase and you’re finding yourself wanting to know how to manage all of these things, and know the in-and-outs of security and integration, we clearly have an awesome team here that can help you from an evaluation to an implementation process. I would encourage you to reach out to your Connection account manager, and find out how we can engage with you, both through that process that Stacy shared with us, and get you on the other side of your digital transformation using managed services. You can alSo, visit us at www.connection.com. If you want to know more about Veeam, you can learn more details about the managed services that Microsoft and Veeam offer.
Penny Conway (30:35):
And on whatever platform you are listening to us on today, please be sure to like, share, and follow So, you can get the newest episodes delivered to whatever your device, as soon as they are released. Stacy and Matt, thank you so much for joining me for your inaugural podcast, I hope you both come back and join us as you see the managed services practice grow within your partners.
Stacy Cote (31:02):
Thank you, Penny.
Matt Koehler (31:03):
Thank you, Penny, appreciate it.
Penny Conway (31:04):
Thanks guys, have a good one.