Avanade is a joint venture between Accenture and Microsoft, founded to implement business specific solutions utilizing Microsoft-based technologies. It is very lean, with very little administrative overhead, and a lot of the best Microsoft certified professionals in the world.
When it launched, it was a very different kind of startup, opening 18 offices worldwide at once. It started with roughly 300 ex Microsoft and 600 ex Accenture consultants, and had to rapidly build an IT and operations framework to support its business. This was the very definition of “hitting the ground running”. The company launched, and Email was originally run on a PC sitting on someone’s desk in Seattle. Robert Altinger, a WebConsult Founding Partner, and several resources that went on to become WebConsult resources, was the Director of Worldwide IT Operations at launch. We were challenged to develop and implement an entire IT and Operations framework from scratch, while the company was already launching around us.
Avanade was one of the first companies to implement a “hot desk” approach. Most of the consultants were out at client sites, so we needed an infrastructure that would support remote work immediately. We needed a procurement strategy to ensure that everyone got appropriately configured laptops very quickly, to start.
We then had to design and implement an IT infrastructure strategy. We deployed a mesh VPN network linking all offices and deployed three regional datacenters, in Seattle, Frankfurt and Singapore. We deployed our application servers in all three datacenters in a highly resilient configuration, to address the latency issues. Due to the Microsoft mandate, everything was done using pure Microsoft solutions as a showcase.
For applications and infrastructure support, we implemented what was then a state of the art monitoring solution, with automated scripting for several kinds of automated problem resolutions, and a lot of self help functionality, since the userbase was all very technically proficient.
To save money, we came up with a relatively unique IT support paradigm: those consultants that were “on the bench” awaiting customer engagements were drafted in to help handle the Tier 2 technical support resolutions. This meant that we had high turnover in the support team as they were deployed on customer-facing engagements, and we needed really disciplined support ticketing systems, knowledgebases and processes in order to maintain the required Service Levels.
From a standing start, the team that became WebConsult designed, launched and implemented the infrastructure, monitoring, hardware procurement, datacenters, core applications, CRM, ERP, Knowledgebases, and the application support for all sites in 9 months.
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