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Windward Consulting Group is fast-tracking its move into managed services, with an extra push from the COVID-19 business climate.
The company, based in Herndon, Va., works with large enterprises on AIOps, service deployment and service management projects. Windward offers strategy consulting on the front end of an engagement and works with customers through the technology selection and implementation process. The company's technology partners include ServiceNow and Splunk.
The company, founded in 1997, hasn't historically included managed services on its menu of offerings. The company has typically moved from one customer project to the next, rather than remain on board to monitor and manage systems.
Sean McDermott, president and CEO at Windward, said customers over the years have asked whether the company could operate particular systems over the long term.
"We pushed off on that," he said. "It wasn't core to our business."
In addition, the company's consultants served as architects and developers -- they weren't attuned to monitoring servers and enhancing reports.
Windward Consulting's thinking, however, began to change over the past couple of years, McDermott said. The company saw a need among organizations to spend more time exploring how best to apply a particular product and less time on the day-to-day activities of running a technology such as ServiceNow.
"There's not a lot of value for companies spending money making sure ServiceNow is running," he said.
To help customers focus on higher value activities, Windward Consulting is rolling out managed services. The primary platforms the company's managed services currently support include ServiceNow, Splunk, IBM -- currently, the Netcool product line, but expansion is possible based on client needs -- and Moogsoft. "We have been working on it for a while," McDermott explained.
But the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic have provided additional impetus to offer managed services. In the current economic downturn, McDermott said he believes organizations will turn to managed services to augment their teams, particularly if they need to reduce staff. Managed services also let customers shift investment from break/fix to growth-oriented projects, he added. One example: A Windward Consulting client was able to shift ServiceNow resources from ongoing platform support to developing new applications on the Now Platform.
"The COVID-19 crisis has just accelerated … the rollout of our services," McDermott said. "This is a long-term, integral part of our overall strategy to support our customers."
Automating managed services
Windward Consulting is using a number of vendor offerings, including those it deploys on customer engagements, to automate its managed services.
The company uses Salesforce as its CRM system and taps ServiceNow for support and workflow management. It also uses Splunk and other tools for remote monitoring, McDermott noted. The use-what-you-sell approach is fairly common among service providers and, particularly, in the cloud environment.
It's a method that helps service providers boost efficiency. Windward has expanded, and will continue to grow, some of its team to support real-time monitoring. But the company's ability to use many of the data analytics and automation offerings it deploys on client projects helps Windward reduce its staffing requirements, McDermott said.