Jun 18 2015

How 3 Companies Harness the Power of IT Aggregation

A trusted partner can help organizations deal with their IT service providers, freeing up staff to focus on initiatives that drive business.

Although managed IT services are often presented as a relatively new concept, vendors such as CDW have been offering these services for more than 15 years. Many managed services offerings began as an effort to simplify customers’ experiences with complicated phone systems. Building on these experiences and customer success stories, CDW expanded its offerings to other IT services and now acts as a manager and advocate for its customers in deployments of connectivity, data centers and cloud services.

“In the beginning, companies were buying all of these phones and phone systems from us, and CDW was going in and getting them all set up,” says Michael Shonholz, senior manager for CDW ‘s telecom, hosting and cloud aggregation services. “So, then they asked for our help in managing their telco services too. We started doing that and offering a complete package from sourcing the equipment to designing and engineering the setup to project managing the services for it.”


The percentage of CIOs who plan to form an alliance with technology partners

SOURCE: CSC Global CIO Survey 2014-2015

Over the years, customer needs have evolved, and CDW aggregation services have evolved with them.

“These days, it doesn’t really make sense for most businesses to collocate a bunch of servers together in the same office where everyone is working,” Shonholz says. “Instead, we can sell them the servers, get them collocated in one place, often in the same location as their telecom equipment, and then manage the providers for the services on those machines.”

Working with both service providers and customers gives CDW aggregation specialists a unique ability to help define customer needs, even if a customer is uncertain of its needs when it begins investigating services.

“We are almost like human RFPs for the customer,” says Andy Ballema, a CDW manager of cloud aggregation services, using the acronym for a request for proposals, a common contracting document. “We ask them very specific questions like what applications they need to run on their new network, how they are doing that today and what their reasoning and motivations are for the move to services. Then we can narrow down the list of the best service providers for them to just two or three choices.”

Once a service provider is chosen, CDW becomes a partner in the implementation and management process for the entire contract lifecycle, including becoming the first point of contact should any concerns about the service arise.

“We like to explain it by saying that the service providers work for CDW, and we work for the customers,” Ballema says.

The newest aggregation service is cloud computing, something many organizations are wrestling with these days. “When you go directly to a cloud vendor, everything they tell you is going to be favorable to their particular solution,” Shonholz says. “When you come to us, we work with you to understand your needs and then help you find a cloud provider that perfectly meets those needs.”

Many firms, such as CareerBuilder, have already taken advantage of CDW’s aggregation services. The employment services company has a presence in 55 countries, with more than 2,400 employees around the world who help to connect job seekers with employers. Among other projects, CareerBuilder consolidated its widely dispersed local phone systems into a single, centralized IP-based telephony system, allowing employees worldwide to reach one another using simple five-digit dialing. The company saw significant savings on its phone bill, while employees found that they were able to communicate and collaborate far more easily and efficiently.

Other companies have also taken advantage of the powerful cloud expertise offered by CDW’s aggregation services. Formed from the merger of audio giants DENON and Marantz, D+M Group offers many popular audio and video electronics brands. Using CDW, D+M was able to migrate 15 massive data centers and all the services and equipment they supported into three private clouds that are now managed from a single location to support the company’s expanding needs. In addition to reducing costs and improving scalability, the company’s move to the cloud has allowed its IT staff to focus on projects that deliver business value, rather than mundane IT maintenance chores.

Another firm, ZeroChaos, was having problems dealing with the inefficiencies created by working with several different network service providers. Further, the data centers the company operated were unable to scale to meet its needs. Working with CDW aggregation services, the firm, which provides global workforce services, standardized on a single network provider for its entire global infrastructure. It also moved applications into the cloud, including its vendor management system, phone service, email, payroll, customer relationship management, SharePoint and remote desktop server farms.

“After working with us, customers often say that they would never bother to build another data center again,” Ballema says. “Why would they want to? We can put them in touch with vendors who do that every day. The customer’s job is to sell groceries or whatever their core business is designed to do, so letting us take away that headache is a good thing for everyone.”

CDW's Aggregation Services

Data Center Aggregation Services include:

  • Colocation
  • Tier III, IV facilities
  • Racks/cages/pods
  • Facility build out

Connectivity Aggregation Services include:

  • Voice/data
  • SIP/VoIP
  • Long-haul transport

Cloud Aggregation Services include:

  • (HMS) Hosting/managed services
  • (IaaS) Infrastructure-as-a-Service
  • (DRaaS) Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service
  • (PaaS) Platform-as-a-Service
  • (UCaaS) Unified Communications-as-a-Service

To find out more, visit CDW’s Aggregation Services web page.