By Tom Frana, Chairman and CEO, ViON Corporation
Companies that lead in the enterprise IT marketplace are not those that invent solutions and push them upon their customers. Instead, leaders are patient listeners. They are the companies that see problems through the eyes of their customers – even if the customer can’t fully articulate their challenges – while offering solutions that simultaneously clarify and solve the customers’ problems.
What does that mean in the IT world? Here’s an example: Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI), provided through Data Center as-a-Service, is delivering a better customer experience. For forward-looking enterprise IT consumers, HCI is the clear path toward performance, efficiency and information security. It’s commonplace to see solutions (ViON partners with leading HCI providers) that can offer virtualized computing, software-defined storage, and virtualized networking. Yet a little more than a decade ago, when mainframes still roamed the earth in large numbers, HCI was as unimaginable to a mainframe systems operator as the Internet would have been to a key punch card tech in 1976.
Take yourself back in time just 12 or so years ago. That’s when “cutting-edge” systems were using siloed computing, storage, and networking. Yet today, this seems like a clear issue to be avoided. Visionary entrepreneurs – who perceived the problem through their customers’ eyes – architected the early HCI and the hypervisor layers that drive them. Here too, driven by our customer-first approach, ViON was an early leader in delivering HCI with our OEM partners, having seen firsthand how a world of silos was driving high costs in financial and human capital terms.
But then something else happened, driving the next wave of innovation in HCI delivery. Enterprise IT customers saw the clear benefits of HCI, yet their adoption was slowed, or entirely blocked, by high upfront costs. ViON recognized this as well, and led the way with Data Center as-a-Service offerings that, on-prem or off-prem, provide all facets of data center technology – storage, compute, network and hyperconverged infrastructure – along with data management, data protection, back-up, recovery, archiving, and data analytics. Payment for ViON’s Data Center as-a-Service could be made as the services were consumed. This too seems obvious now, but it all started with companies like ViON listening to the customer and innovating to meet their demands, even if that meant helping to define their needs when crafting the solution.
I started this article by saying that the companies that succeed are the ones that see problems through the eyes of their customers while offering solutions that simultaneously clarify and solve the customers’ problems. Essentially this is a customer-driven innovation model. When companies maintain close connections to the daily business needs and mission operations of their customers, the next great invention is easy to spot. We consider it a privilege to have walked the path to new tools, platforms and delivery methods with our customers. Our vision for the future is simple: We will keep listening and stepping into new ideas because our customers give us the courage to keep reinventing and carving new paths.