Mike Andrea has spent more than 34 years in the telecommunications, IT, and data centre industries. “I've worked across a number of companies, including Telstra - Australia's largest telecommunications provider - where I was a global data consultant for a number of years,” he recalls. Next, Andrea spent several years at Dimension Data before he and his long term business partner Chris Goldstone decided to go into business for themselves. The two of them founded a vendor independent consulting company called Strategic Directions in 2004, which focused on guiding clients’ IT strategies and solution roadmaps. Due to the changing nature of the data centre industry, in 2010 the company found itself faced with growing demand to branch into the managed IT services sector, as more and more enterprises began to embrace IT as-a-service and the industry-wide shift towards the cloud.
“My partner Chris Goldstone and I made the decision to separate the business. We pulled out the operational management team and built Oper8 around the operational management of IT in the beginning,” Andrea explains. A lot of Strategic Directions’ core competencies - data centre management, project management, and IT operational strategy - carried over into Oper8 Global. “Of course, those terms hadn't really solidified in the industry's consciousness back in 2012; Oper8 was initially thought of as helping with on-premises service delivery, helping organisations right-size, and helping them pick the right organisational approach when it came to IT and their data centre infrastructure needs,” Andrea recalls. However undefined those terms were a decade ago, they quickly formed the four key foundational pillars of Oper8’s go-to-market strategy today: data centres, IoT, security, and edge.
Over the nine years since Oper8’s founding (including the company’s entry into the EMEA market in 2019) Andrea has traded heavily on the skills he accumulated in his consulting background at Strategic Directions. As a result, Oper8 Global wears a couple of different hats, the first being an innovative, solution-focused R&D firm looking to fill capability gaps left throughout the market with a unique, complementary blend of its four core competencies. The second hat is very much that of a facilitator, as Oper8 Global continues to bring together a close-knit ecosystem of trusted strategic partners to elevate its offerings. Today, Oper8 works closely with some of the industry’s biggest innovators, including Thales, Equinix, Dell, Intel, RF Code, and more.
When I ask him about his philosophy when it comes to choosing a new partner, Andrea reflects that today’s success is the result of yesterday’s hard-learned lesson. “We've had some past relationships that I'd like to forget. Some of them looked fantastic on paper and turned out to be not so good, to the degree that it not only created a lot of angst for the business but also our staff,” he says, stressing that “Those lessons have been really well captured within the entire business, not just at the executive level. We regularly get feedback on a particular partnership from our teams that worked with that partner, and make sure that we take that forward.”
He adds that, when Oper8 Global looks for a new partnership today, “It's not just a transactional relationship, or a transactional collaboration on a single project that we're looking for. We still engage in those relationships with, for example, a reseller partner or a solution partner, but that doesn't make them a key partner; our key partners are organisations that sit down with us to talk about R&D, to talk about the strategy for our next wave of products, about how we can best work together to deliver a truly valuable outcome for the customer.”
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