By Sramana Mitra and guest author Shaloo Shalini
Is the mid-market ready for cloud computing? What are the mid-market customer aspirations from a typical cloud-based solution provider? Most of the cloud-based vendors and the entrepreneurs chasing the cloud market are focusing on the most common and volume-based solutions, but there are there niche segments that are willing to pay a higher price for cloud-based solutions provided their specific and special needs are met by vendors. In this interview, Sramana delves behind the scenes into contract furniture manufacturer EvensonBest’s IT organization and brings out some interesting perspectives from mid-market segment. Do you belong to the camp that perpetually worries about dealing with the disaster recovery (DR) scenario when it comes to cloud adoption? If yes, then you may find EvensonBest’s hybrid cloud usage interesting. The company address DR in a rather unusual manner. For Martin Silverman, director IT at EvensonBest, being able to support his end users through a cloud-hosted offering is a bonus because he no longer needs to worry about updating and maintaining dedicated servers for supporting IT needs of EvensonBest.
Martin Silverman has been in IT since the era of mainframes. He has a history of identifying cutting-edge technologies that work. In the mid-1990s, while at the prestigious Mt. Sinai Medical Center, Silverman co-developed and rolled out “Web Doc,” a Web-based collaboration application that allowed physicians all over the world to collaborate on the toughest cases in real time. He was also an early adopter of continuous data replication and is considered an authority on disaster preparedness. He is currently the director of information technology for EvensonBest, one of the world’s largest contract furniture distributors for firms such as Verizon, CA, and The New York Yankees.
EvensonBest, LLC is a full-service contract furniture distributorship company, established in 1996. They have an install base of completed projects totaling over $1 billion and employ 300 professionals in furniture sales, account management, and project management disciplines. As a technology-driven company, EvensonBest uses state-of-the-art voice/data equipment and services. Each element of the company’s operating system is designed to support the integration of in-house disciplines and to ensure a seamless, coordinated execution of individual client projects.
SM: Welcome to the Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing series, Martin. To begin the discussion, can you share some details about EvensonBest for our readers in terms of its size, the scale of IT infrastructure in order to set the context?
MS: Our revenue levels and such details are private information because it is a privately held company.
SM: We need to know the range; you don’t have to be specific, but are we talking to say a $5 million company or a $500 million company? Our readers need to understand this aspect to be able to gauge what kind of infrastructure are we talking about?
MS: We are talking about the latter, a $500 million company kind of infrastructure.
SM: How many employees does EvensonBest have? What is the IT configuration in terms of operations?
MS: We have about 300 employees. There are seven physical locations of the company, although that does change from time to time depending upon the number of projects that are in progress.
SM: Can you talk a little bit more about your business?
MS: We are a contract furniture distribution company. There are three big companies that handle furniture manufacturing for office furniture today – Knoll, Steelcase, and Herman Miller. We are the world’s largest Knoll dealer.
SM: What stage of cloud computing deployment or adoption are you in at EvensonBest, within your IT infrastructure? Is it in pilot stage, or is it in full deployment stage? Can you talk about which workloads are you putting on the cloud and what is the philosophy that is driving your cloud adoption?
MS: Well, the primary driver for our cloud adoption is – we want to get out of this data center business! We don’t want to have to deal with air conditioning people, with electricians, and energy issues. We don’t want to have to deal with power companies and landlords. Simply put, we want to get out of the data center business [and focus more on the core business, which is contract furniture].