Chris Black serves as director of federal engineering at World Wide Technology, where he leads all of the customer-facing and technology-facing pre-sales engineers in the federal organization.
Chris sat down with ExecutiveBiz to discuss WWT’s cloud, mobility and data center offerings, how his business development background helps in his current role and the federal contracts he is excited about.
ExecutiveBiz: Can you could describe your position as Director of Federal Engineering at World Wide Technology?
Black: I’m responsible for all of the pre-sales engineers in our federal organization. Other responsibilities under this role include participating in corporate steering committees for our Advanced Technology Center, overseeing many of our demo solutions as well as involvement in our OEM partnerships and helping to shape our go-to-market technology strategy.
ExecutiveBiz: So, what brought you to this role – Where were you before this?
Black: I was with Hitachi Data Systems prior to World Wide. What attracted me to World Wide Technology is that it had established itself as the number one partner in North America for Cisco Systems. From there, WWT went on to branch out into advanced data center solutions, including server storage virtualization, cloud enablement and more.
ExecutiveBiz: What federal projects is the company currently involved in that you are excited about?
Black: There are a lot to choose from. In the area of IT and Supply Chain Management, we are leveraging our Integration Technology Center (ITC) to custom rack, stack, cable, simultaneously test and ship numerous fully-integrated solutions to multiple locations for a federal intelligence customer. I think that’s a really cool project that highlights a lot of the different things that we do well.
In our data center practice, we are utilizing the state-of-the-art Advanced Technology Center we have in St. Louis to provide customers a way to explore the latest technology trends and examine best-of-breed solutions onsite or remotely through product demonstrations, technology trainings, proof-of-concept testing and hands-on workshops.
In terms of specific projects, we have a real interesting project with a large State government that really showcases our capabilities. It started out as a voice roll-out and has expanded to include data center aspects and potentially even a modular data center building for one of their IT projects.
ExecutiveBiz: Can you talk about the company’s work with data centers, and some of the benefits that they offer?
Black: I think that our clients appreciate the holistic nature of WWT’s Data Center Practice. By that I mean we can address nearly every challenge with proven methodologies, best practices and best-of-breed data center solutions along with complete support, integration, logistics, supply chain and lifecycle management services.
Our experts have years of experience managing an array of initiatives, including physical data center moves, facilities engineering for hot-isle/cold-isle containment, storage and server consolidation, new virtualization and cloud enablement. We also address advanced active disaster recovery scenarios with our Resilient Active Data Center architecture, which provides ‘always on’ access to IT consumers by allowing two sites to participate in the data center infrastructure in an active fashion, so there essentially is no down time if a disaster occurs or even during scheduled maintenance. Not only does our RAD architecture afford customers some pretty advanced disaster recovery business, but it gives them more global ability and makes the remote site assets usable versus passive.
Our Mobile Data Center (MDC) offering and Flexible Adaptable Solutions Technology (FAST) platform are also unique in that we build fully-customizable solutions, (including mico-containers, mobile and fixed-location containerized data centers, modular shelters or buildings) featuring integrated computing, storage, networking, power and cooling that can be quickly deployed or established anywhere. WWT’s ability to deliver those at a price that is competitive with the more standard cookie cutter offerings is significantly different.
ExecutiveBiz: What agencies are you working with on these projects?
Black: We are working with just about everyone in the federal government. We’ve recently completed physical moves for several civilian agencies. We’re providing rack-and-stack, supply chain and IT design services for members of the intelligence community. There are advanced pod architecture deployments and cloud implementations for the Air Force as well as the voice roll outs and data center solutions I mentioned earlier. We have significant projects and very complex solutions in progress with all branches of the government.
ExecutiveBiz: What solutions does WWT offer for cloud and mobility?
Black: In the cloud space, we have established ourselves as a cloud broker.. We are able to bring people, proven processes, technology and our strategic partners together to actually build cloud infrastructure or we can provide advisory services to customers through consultative engagements, pre-cloud assessments, workshops and design offerings.
We can provide hardware, software and implementation services to meet an organization’s current and future cloud platform requirements – or just advise them about which applications can move to the cloud. We work with customers and large CSPs to deliver private, public or hybrid clouds, complete with maintenance, monitoring, support and management. So, whether it’s building, advising or managing cloud, WWT’s Cloud Practice can help customers find the right solutions and navigate the complexities of cloud enablement by assisting with the full cloud computing lifecycle.
ExecutiveBiz: What do you offer in terms of mobility, such as BYOD and BYOT and data centers?
Black: WWT has always had a strong wireless and mobility focus and practice – and we’ve been heavily involved with supporting BYOD from its onset. Everyone wants to use their iPad® or phone on the corporate network, but doing so in a secure fashion is vital and WWT has really focused on the security aspect of BYOD.
Our BYOD solutions revolve around Secure Wireless, Access Control and Mobile Device Management, and we offer demonstrations and workshops dedicated to those core focus areas along with the actual architecture and technology tools required to enhance mobility while securing and protecting critical assets.
ExecutiveBiz: How do your past experiences in Business Development alter your perspective when you have decisions to make?
Black: There are a lot of ways to answer that question. As someone who was responsible for developing a data center strategy, I found that my past experiences with different OEMs were important in helping us determine the types of partners we want to work with moving forward. Having the experience to ask questions like, “What kind of channel do we offer?” ”How rewarding will a relationship be for our account managers?” “Is the technology viable to the customer?” “What business problems does the technology solve?”
ExecutiveBiz: In terms of going forward in your federal space, what are you most excited about?
Black: What’s most exciting to me is the rapid transformation of the federal IT market. You can see the hyper-consolidations going on in the marketplace and the large cloud service providers that are trying to come into the space as the government explores its approach to and adoption of cloud.
I think the most exciting thing for WWT is our transformation from pushing boxes to providing more holistic solutions. In today’s evolving marketplace, customers require holistic solutions with extensive services when it comes to the consumption of compute. And I think that offers a lot of opportunity for companies. I am excited that World Wide is agile and able to take advantage of that transformation.
(Click Here, to read the executive spotlight of Craig Corbin, WWT strategic programs and business development director.)