Executive Spotlight: Michael Shrader, Carahsoft VP on Big Data and the Federal Technology Market

Michael ShraderMichael Shrader serves as vice president of Carahsoft’s innovative and intelligence solutions business team.

In his role at the Reston,Va.-based company, the 8 1/2-year company veteran represents emerging, small to medium-sized companies looking to sell their advanced technology solutions to the government.

The company’s solutions divisions market, sell and deliver VMware, Symantec, EMC, Adobe, open source, HP, SAP, and other products and services to government agencies.

In his interview with ExecutiveBiz, Shrader discusses Splunk software, the growth of big data in the government marketplace, and Carahsoft’s growth since he began at the company.

 

ExecutiveBiz:  Can you explain your position with Carahsoft and some of your work experience at the company?

Michael Shrader:  I am the vice president charged with running our innovative and intelligence solutions business unit.  We typically deal with small companies that are just coming out with a cutting-edge technology product that they’re looking to introduce into the government marketplace.

We also deal with a few companies that are medium-sized and are interested in proactively working with Carahsoft to find new government customers and reseller partners for their solutions.

 

ExecutiveBiz: What major challenges does Splunk software help federal customers overcome and how is it different from competing software?

ShraderSplunk enables the visibility of IT applications throughout the enterprise. Their solutions apply to many use cases and solve many problems.

Splunk indexes and analyzes any type of machine data generated by any type of node that exists on your network.  They also offer out-of-the-box use cases to then correlate it across different domains.

So whether you’re using Splunk to monitor your security infrastructure or whether you’re using it to monitor your applications’ performance, you can correlate both of those domains’ data to provide end-to-end visibility across your entire IT global infrastructure.

 

ExecutiveBiz:  Is Splunk applicable across the federal landscape?  Or does it differ by customer?

Shrader:  I would absolutely say it’s applicable across the federal marketplace, state and local landscape.  They offer a low-cost entry point in terms of a customer getting up and running on the technology, which is appealing to a lot of early adopters and smaller agency customers.

They actually have a free version that a customer can download and get up and running pretty quickly on a small amount of their data.  They also have an app store where customers can download additional, out-of-the-box functionality for free.  For example, if you want to manage your security infrastructure, or monitor your virtualized infrastructure performance, there’s an app for that.

 

ExecutiveBiz:  How does marketing, reselling, and distributing software complement Carahsoft’s portfolio?  Do you market the software differently to separate agencies?

Shrader:  When we market to government customers, we typically focus on how the vendor’s solutions addresses a specific problem or issue the customer is trying to solve, so each approach is tailored accordingly.

Splunk has a land and expand model with their customers where they get a customer using one application and generally that user shows that application off to other users who say, “Hey, I could put my data into that also.” This is how Splunk grows its accounts organically.

We are introducing Splunk to as many agencies as possible, and to as many folks who’ve never heard of the product yet and help them adopt and see value in the product.

 

ExecutiveBiz:  How do you see big data in the federal government evolving?  How is Carahsoft positioned to provide solutions?

Shrader: Big data that the government is collecting and acquiring is most useful when there can be something done with it to inform and drive decision making.  We’ve built a portfolio of products that address those needs from a data collection perspective, an indexing, storing and archiving perspective, and from an analysis perspective.

Our portfolio provides an end-to-end solution around this mounting problem and the technology is only getting better and better as the sources of data and the inflow of data continue to grow exponentially.

Splunk, Cloudera, and Thetus, for example, are specifically engineering their products around helping the federal government solve this problem.

 

ExecutiveBiz:  Have you at Carahsoft seen the growth of the company because of the upsurge in the need for big data solutions over the past few years?

Shrader:  In my area of the company, we’re seeing big data as one of the leading IT initiatives that the government is tackling, along with cybersecurity and defense.

 

ExecutiveBiz:  What are you excited about for 2013?

Shrader:  I am excited that our company is getting our technologies organized to fully address these IT initiatives.

We’re building out our cybersecurity portfolio of best-of-breed technology solutions that solve those specific issues. Instead of just offering or educating on one point product at a time, we’re going to be able to bring end-to-end solutions for our government customers who care about all of these initiatives whether it be big data or telework or cybersecurity.

 

ExecutiveBizAs you provide solutions and the word spreads about Carahsoft, does it become an easier sell to government customers?

Shrader:  Carahsoft offers a wide variety of terrific vendor solutions each supported by a separate Sales and Marketing team.

Everyone knows the large software companies, but many of the emerging technology companies that my team represents are so new to the marketplace that driving awareness and demand for these offerings is part of our core capabilities.

From the perspective of marketing behind the Carahsoft brand, our success in the market and our position as an educational resource and trusted technology partner for the government is certainly opening doors for us. For example, we host more than 1500 events every year, including our annual Big Data and Cybersecurity events.

It’s been easier and easier to grow the attendance to these types of events because we’ve put together increasingly more compelling agendas year-over-year, and this year promises to be even better, as we  host our third annual Government Big Data Forum in March.

 

ExecutiveBiz:  Is there anything you’d like to add about your company that we have not covered?

Shrader:  We’ve grown into a billion dollar company in just seven years so we know we’re doing a lot of things right for our vendor partners, resellers and our government customers.

Our direction as a company going forward is to continue providing top-notch service and value to our government customers, our manufacturers and the other partner resellers in our ecosystem.

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