For those of you who may be tuning in late here’s some background on this project. DirectPointe is betting on diversification into the linux-based CentralPointe Server (CPS) as a platform for our managed IT services, as well as developing great new features. Of course you will probably see the term Small Office Solution (SOS) used in this context. That is our product we offer as an alternative to our Complete Solution that is based on Windows Server. No, I’m not really trying to load up the search engine bots with all these keywords, but they do need a little help figuring out which way is up.
Each member of our small development team is a battle-hardened implementation veteran of implementing Windows and Linux systems for DirectPointe clients. We have actually been on the road and locked up in server closets so much in the past year that we haven’t been able to devote much attention to technical R&D. Now that kind of focus and innovation is officially one of our top company goals and our efforts are getting some serious attention. Of course by setting aside these resources for R&D there’s a direct loss to the implementation and support side of the company. It’s up to us in the short-term to justify pulling away from installs to sit in our lab daydreaming about VPNs.
What is the value of certification in the IT industry today? I ask this in the context of our strategy to reach out to partners to resell our systems. Our team members have all been through the “school of hard knocks” in deploying and supporting CentralPointe Servers. We may have even written a few of the textbooks as we were learning, but we’re familiar with the necessary knowledge and skill set to get the job done. We shudder at the thought of handing systems over to a reseller without confidence that they will know what to do. Ultimately, that will be a lot of off-hours phone calls directly to us. The obvious answer seems to be that we need to create a special certification program for the CPS.
Resumes were bursting with certification from Microsoft, Cisco and Novell in the late 1990s. That showed there were a lot of highly motivated and skilled technicians who spent a lot on training and took a lot of multiple-guess tests. IT skills are still highly valued, but I’m not so sure that a full page of certifications on your resume will get you very far. They are highly perishable and the values have depreciated. Seeing “Microsoft Certified Windows 95″ on the list will probably get a good laugh. Why do we want to add another technical certification to that list? Ideally our partners will want it! Not to pad their resumes but to give them what they need to efficiently take care of their clients so they can grow their own business.
The strength of the modern Western calendar (and I don’t mean the 2008 Louis L’Amour calendar) is that it has built in a clever contingency for immiment breakdown: Leap year. In astronomical terms our year is 365 and one quarter days long, so we have enough foresight to know our 365 day calendar will break down without adding an extra filler every four years. I commend the end users I talk with who grasp the reality that their IT infrastructure is likely to fail to some extent at some time too. They value network security, monitoring and backup services as a responsible necessity to their business rather splurging on a convenience.
When I think of the trends for technology to converge into fewer devices with more and more integrated capabilities I think of some worst case scenarios. For example, there’s a lot that we can engineer into our cell phones and it’s apparent we want to get away from separate devices for things like listening to music, text messaging, web browsing, and throwing at people. The same goes for the server form factor for office IT. We are able to move a lot of the network and business app functionality to that central device. Just imagine your office relying heavily on that single device for Everything, and having it trip out in a thunder storm or someone using it to bludgeon their nemesis. Literally everything would come to a stop! This thought has me a little concerned about some development ideas. The irony is that by converging to fewer devices the trend may be to split out just as many redundancy devices.
How do you get past the awkward phone call to a friend who recognizes your voice after a few seconds and counts over seven months since they last heard from you? Get right to the news!
DirectPointe acquired Sweet Spot last year as a direct lesson from some of our favorite celebrities: You’ve got to reinvent yourself. The model that has served DirectPointe well for the past eight years is to build a direct relationship with clients and by directly managing their office IT. After eight years of sales charts and SBUs (Support Burnout Units) we see that growth is discernibly linear. We have aggressive goals for growth, but our method requires direct, “hands on” work to make those gains. This calls for working smarter.
What Sweet Spot brings to DirectPointe is S3, their portable VPN technology on USB flash. (It’s still under negotiations what “S3″ should stand for.) Our development team is already underway integrating that technology into the CentralPointe Server. The idea is that the CPS, being such a versatile platform, is the launch pad for an arsenal of great business IT technologies. We’re shooting for orbit now instead of just hurtling ballistic SBUs into battle.