As more companies fully mobilize online from cloud sharing to video conferencing and more, deciding which IT infrastructure to implement is often an overwhelming decision due to the vast array of choices. But what if there was a simpler choice; a different way to consume IT – similar to the way we consume electricity, water and gas? In Morristown, New Jersey, Alliant Technologies (Alliant) is making this idea possible with an out-of-the-box business model as one of the first IT utility companies.
Alliant designs, deploys and manages global IT infrastructure, all from one world-class network operations center in New Jersey. The company has a rich 17-year history providing integrated IT solutions, but just in the last four years Alliant has turned the industry upside-down.
“I founded the company with my partners in 1998 and for many years Alliant was a traditional IT integrator,” tells Bruce Flitcroft, CEO of Alliant. “Four years ago we branched into a very different business model as we started to view IT infrastructure as a utility. IT infrastructure doesn’t have to be so complicated. It doesn’t have to cost so much.”
The tangled web of IT infrastructure includes any number of boxes, operating systems, wires, routers, circuits, switchers, access points, antennas and more. It’s no wonder companies spend a tremendous amount of time and energy trying to manage and maintain this infrastructure through various providers.
“Most companies spend 60 to 70 percent of their time and money in IT just trying to keep the lights on with infrastructure,” suggests Flitcroft. “In our new model as an IT utility company, Alliant builds, deploys and operates all of these components for you and you get a monthly bill based on the number of configuration items – number of boxes and wires, etc. – you’re consuming. It’s a flexible service and we’re one of the first ones out there doing it as a new type of tech company – we’re the IT utility guys.”
Alliant takes the responsibility of managing confusing and complex systems off the client’s shoulders and allows them to focus their resources on what they do best – their products, services.
“Our approach allows companies to focus their IT resources around the applications and data, which is where they actually make money and improve their products,” compares Flitcroft. “We improve the customer experience. We can build it, deploy it and operate world-class infrastructure at 10 to 15 percent less than they can themselves, while knowing the systems are going to work no matter what.”
A sticky idea for IT solutions
This kind of peace of mind and one-stop shop service has helped Alliant gain a range of big-name customers. “We’re currently working on infrastructure for 14 of the Fortune 2,000 companies globally,” reveals Flitcroft. “And we’re saving them 10 to 15 percent of their infrastructure budget.”
A budget can become extra costly when systems change every few years. Like all technology, IT infrastructure is constantly improving. Fortunately for Alliant’s customers, Flitcroft says the company has also added the benefit of an automatic refresh every four years.
“Every four years, our customers get brand new equipment for the same price – they never have to worry about upgrades,” he shares. “Just like a utility company who replaces transformers on the street to deliver better power, we replace all of the routers, switches and other elements.”
Flitcroft says this added feature has made Alliant’s model such a sticky idea that once a customer signs up, they’re a customer for life. “As long as everything works right, which we ensure –clients will never cancel,” he says.
In fact, Alliant’s model is so sticky that over the last 10 weeks, the company has signed more than $55 million in new contracts. “This is a measure of just how much companies actually want to buy IT as a utility – with simplicity and predictability,” grades Flitcroft.
Consolidation for clearer communication
Currently, Alliant has 120 employees managing worldwide infrastructure. “We have CI’s in 38 countries, supporting tens of thousands devices around the world,” measures Flitcroft.
But how does Alliant manage IT infrastructure for such a broad client base all over the globe? “That’s the question everyone is asking,” says Flitcroft. “We use to have multiple locations in Boston, Philly and New York, but in the last four years we’ve closed them all down and consolidated into a single location in New Jersey, our network operations center. We still have our main data centers in Dallas and Parsippany, but all operations are under one roof in Morristown.”
In the old business model, integrators were regional players, with offices within driving distance to clients. “Companies would send their people to each location to manage controls, but we’ve automated so much that it’s just more efficient to manage CI’s from one central point,” explains Flitcroft.
Alliant’s business model is one of the benefits of the evolution of cloud technologies and virtualization. One of its key points of differentiation is that it provides a complete suite of IT infrastructure services that spans across the Wide Area Network (WAN), Local Area Network (LAN), Unified Communications (UC) and Data Center (DC).
“We’re not limited to just compute like many of the other players in this market,” explains Flitcroft. “Our proprietary reference architectures built for specific industries allow us to deliver high performance, security and compliance to meet specific customer needs.”
From a single location, Alliant manages major IT infrastructure for a broad base of top-tier clients. “For a global consumer food group in New Jersey we just expanded their global wide area network for 132 locations,” details Flitcroft. “We’re doing another project for a large food retailer at 350 sites, refreshing their entire infrastructure. Also, we’re working with a European consumer products company, taking over their whole phone and web infrastructure.”
According to Flitcroft, Alliant will be rolling out three networks in 2015 with more than 350 locations each and the company’s strategic network operations center serves as the single point for all of the action. “Before companies had difficulty managing boxes, wires and other elements, but we manage it all centrally, which also reduces the number of vendors companies have to manage,” he compares. “One client told us our single contract will help them replace 18 different vendors.”
Clearer communication and customer convenience – that’s what Alliant’s approach is all about and its surely shaking things up in the industry. Alliant Technologies is changing the way companies think about IT infrastructure solutions, turning the service into a more usable utility.