The cloud service line.  Are you familiar with it?  We all like to believe that we’re unique, but Oakwood is similar to many systems integrators in the country. Like others, we offer services related to systems management, infrastructure automation, data management, business intelligence and data services, communication and collaboration such as SharePoint, application management including development, embedded devices, mobile, UX, and ALM.  But we really know the cloud, pure and simple.

Cloud Service Line

One example of this cultural difference is seen in our Cloud Service Line.

When I was hired, the biggest questions floating around the office were: “Why did we hire this Cloud guy?” “Are we starting a Cloud practice or service line?” Like many organizations, Oakwood saw the rapid growth in cloud adoption & wanted to retool to capitalize on that growth.

We did consider creating a 5th service line. Also, we considered re-arranging our team members to deliver the cloud. We even considered hiring from the ground up to build a cloud only team. However, the culture helped us see a better way.

Across the organization, people raised their hands & said “My technology, apps, SQL, SharePoint, is in the cloud, or it will be soon.  I’ll invest in myself even to learn this stuff. Point me in a direction to learn about the cloud so I can be better at helping my customers.”

Seeing this in the culture, we collectively decided that our best approach was to NOT change the way we do business. We already had strong people on the team who could managed data, servers, apps, or whatever else was needed. Why did we need to duplicate each of those people & add cloud to their titles?

Instead, we decided to embrace the Cloud across our growing team. We didn’t train all of our people to “do Azure”, instead we trained them to ask a simple question:

“When we are done with this project, where do you want this thing to live: On-Premise or the Cloud?”

What We Have Learned

This question created insightful replies from our customers & opportunities to grow the teams’ skills in hands-on projects that made real impacts for our customers.

As an added benefit, it also expanded several projects by cross-training each of our LOBs. These projects grew because our app teams were now more aware of our infrastructure capabilities & vice versus. What’s more, they were working together to solve bigger challenges & address bigger opportunities for our customers. Still more, they helped us become a better team & an even better culture.

A good friend from the Azure community has long told partners:

“Don’t build a cloud practice, build the cloud into your practice.”

The Cloud Conclusion

Others have said that the number one rule to leveraging Azure is to not talk about Azure. To us, the cloud is but one more tool. In our culture, business change drives our teams – Not tools. We leverage azure by ensuring that it is a well-understood tool in the ever-growing set of tools needed to be a consultant today.

When asked why we don’t have a cloud service line today, I answer “Because our culture is bigger than the cloud.”

Is yours?


Next Steps

Review our case studies and engagements where we helped companies just like yours solve a variety of business needs.


About Oakwood

Since 1981, Oakwood has been helping companies of all sizes, across all industries, solve their business problems.  We bring world-class consultants to architect, design and deploy technology solutions to move your company forward.   Our proven approach guarantees better business outcomes.  With flexible engagement options, your project is delivered on-time and on budget.  11,000 satisfied clients can’t be wrong.

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