Working for Connection’s Microsoft team for the last five years, I’ve seen us transition from a licensing reseller to a solutions designer. That transition also turned my coworkers into “customer success champions.” My colleague Bert Sawicki is such a champion who focuses on setting up customers for long-term success with Microsoft Azure. Recently, I got a chance to talk to Bert about how he helps our customers achieve long-term success with Azure solutions.
Sreeraj Vasukuttan: What excites you most about your work?
Bert Sawicki: Being able to provide clarity to customers and guidance around complex Microsoft Licensing programs and helping chart the best path forward to maximize the Microsoft investment. Also enabling customers to take full advantage of all the features of their Microsoft deployments.
SV: What are some of the most significant challenges you face when designing solutions for our customers?
BS: The most significant challenges I face are related to trying to decode Microsoft verbiage in the terms documents and keeping up with the vast licensing changes that occur monthly, so I can communicate that to everyone who needs that information.
SV: What do conversations about moving to the cloud look like? What’s unique about Connection that appeals to our customers?
BS: The key to a successful migration to the cloud is planning and fully understanding not only your environment, but also your goals and the reasons for moving to the cloud. It is also critically important that you understand the cost and pricing of cloud services and have an accurate estimation of what the cost will be once your environment is in the cloud. No cloud migration will be successful if the costs end up being more than you’ve anticipated. The resources we have here at Connection do an outstanding job of answering all the necessary questions and getting a deep understanding of your goals and understanding what you think the journey will look like.
SV: How do people usually feel about those initial dilemmas of moving to the cloud once they are mid-way through their journey?
BS: Many of the people I’ve worked with find the move the cloud is easier than they thought, and a lot of the apprehension is based on the concerns about migrating the resources and limiting downtime. There are many ways to reduce necessary downtime, and we help with architecture and strategy for these migrations. We’ve also noticed that upper management can be reluctant about moving to the cloud even though there are many benefits. Sometimes the challenge is merely educating management on the cost of cloud services and the security we can achieve that can be as good or better than on-premises infrastructure. Microsoft spends a billion dollars a year on security, so getting that through to management is always important.
SV: What does the customer journey look like once they have finished their Azure migration? What are some mid-journey aspirations that you see?
BS: Once you have migrated resources to Azure cost optimization, security and governance become their top concerns. One of the great advantages of cloud is the ability to deploy resources instantly and not having to wait for hardware to show up. This can be a double-edged sword, as resources have been created, but not yet effectively managed. So policies must be put in place to manage resources deployed in Azure. Azure also opens many new avenues for you to build and deploy applications. However, application and data modernizing efforts do not have to happen in isolation. Security and cost optimizations must be a recurring objective in every phase of your cloud growth. Some of my customers who gained maturity in the initial migration are now stepping into the next phase of their cloud journey, and they come back to me for help in those areas. My job is to understand their motivation and direct them to the right Azure Services team here at Connection.
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