Justin Fielder, & Karen Openshaw, Zen Internet | Nutanix .NEXT EU 2019


>>Narrator: Live from
Copenhagen, Denmark, it’s theCUBE. Covering Nutanix .NEXT 2019. Brought to you by Nutanix.>>Welcome back everyone
to theCUBE’s live coverage of .NEXT Nutanix. We are here in Copenhagen,
I’m your host, Rebecca Knight along with my cohost Stu Miniman. We’re joined by Karen Openshaw, she is the head of
engineering at Zen Internet, and Justin Fielder the
CTO at Zen Internet. Thank you both so much for coming. You’re first timers on
theCUBE, so welcome.>>Thank you
>>We’re really excited to have you.
>>Thank you.>>Why don’t you start by telling
our viewers a little about Zen Internet, who you are,
what you’re all about.>>Yeah, sure, so, Zen is UK
based, we’re up near Manchester. A managed services provider. We turned over this year
about some six million pounds. Which is a great achievement for us. That’s double digit growth we’ve had for the last few years. So we’re really starting
to mature as a business. We employ about 550 people. We have about 150 thousand
customers split across retail, indirects, we have a very
big channel business. We have a wholesale business, where we sell our infrastructure. Then other people productize and put into solutions
for their customers. And then we have our corporate business. Which is when Nutanix really comes in. So, we offer managed services
for networking, hosting. The value added services that are required to make all that safe and secure and solution for a corporate.
>>Great.>>So you’re a managed service provider. Your company has been
around for quite a while. It predates when everyone
was talking about cloud. Maybe give us kind of the
update today as to where you really see yourself fitting, what differentiates your
company in the market place.>>So as far as, Karen can add
sort of what her team does. But, I suppose the big difference is, Zen is a very people first company. So Richard Singh, our founder, he founded the company
nearly 25 years ago. He stated publicly he’s
never going to sell it. It’s a very very people
orientated company. Of course has great affinity to Nutanix’s own people first values and
fundamentally we believe that we always want to do the
right thing for the customer, even if that is difficult. Whatever you want to say about, you know, how you pick up
some of the hardness about keeping up with customers.>>Yeah, so we have customers
that come to us asking for things that we don’t
necessarily sell at the time. And we put quite a lot of effort
into adapting our products at the time to deliver
them what they need. Some of those challenging
conversations can be about making sure the customer is
getting the right product for what they want. So understanding what they need, making sure that we can support them. Not only taking up
product, but coming down to the product in the first place. That’s what we use a lot of
our Nutanix infrastructure for.>>Karen maybe can you
dig us in a little bit. What does Nutanix enable for
your business that ultimately then has an impact on
your ultimate end user?>>It’s done two things for us. So, the first is IT operations. So, we’ve been on a journey,
I guess over the last three, four years consolidating
all our legacy and physical on virtual services, we’ve
used Nutanix to do that. So, we’ve collated all of our services. We’ve got about 90 odd percent
of all of our legacy services on that IT infrastructure, now. So operationally it saves us a lot of time, effort, cost, et cetera. Much more reliable as well. But conversely to that we also use it for our products offerings, as well. So, we used to be managed hosting. Where a customer would come give us a spec and we’d go and build a physical server, host it in our data center. Host their applications on
there, support them with that. We don’t really do that anymore. We now use Nutanix as
our hosting environment. So we’ve reduced our
environmental footprint. We’ve reduced the amount
of space that we need in a data center and the power
that we put through there. Again, operating that
is easier for us because we can consolidate where
the skills are from in terms of IT ops and in terms
of the infrastructure for the managed services as well.>>One of the things you said Justin, is that you’re a very
people first company. And that really fits in well with the culture at Nutanix. Can you riff on that a little bit and just describe what it is to be working so closely with a company like Nutanix and how important it is
that your cultures mesh.>>Yeah, sure. I mean Nutanix has been part of Zen for many many years. I’ve worked in this industry for 25 years and nothing stands still. Literally, nothing stands still. And therefore, whatever
you thought was a good idea last year, probably is now
the worst possible idea, because there’s some great new idea. And I think it’s that pace of change. So, what we’ve really found with Nutanix is as they’ve got to know us
and we’ve got to know them, and they can see that we’re
starting to really be able to take some solutions to the
market that really resonate. Then what they’ve done is
they’ve literally embedded their people in our company. So, we have assistance
engineers, account managers. They come up to our
offices, they sit down, they understand our people. They understand where we’re trying to go. They understand our propositions. And this is a journey for Nutanix. I mean Nutanix in the MSP land is not really where they started. They started, like Karen
just said, like we used them. That’s actually where we
started Was, oh my god, I’ve got a thousand servers,
this is just too much. It’s too much hassle to try
and segment it yourself. It’s that sort of
hypervisor of hypervisors of hypervisors type approach,
it just makes it easier. But conversely, it’s there
for a really important that you work out how you take that value proposition to a customer. Because if you can’t explain
it, ’cause it’s so easy, how do they know whether this is going to solve their problems. So, that’s been a
fantastic part of Nutanix. It’s really, the Nutanix
team feels like the Zen team. And they’re saying they
also feel the same. So, you know, nothing
ever goes 100% right. But it’s always, you know
who’s cool there or what. Because you’ve got that
personal relationship. And that’s really important to us.>>Yeah.
>>It’s more than that. So, what we’ve found with the Nutanix guys is that they’ll help us fix problems that aren’t necessarily
Nutanix problems, as well. So, that’s something we don’t get from any other of our suppliers. It’s normally, no, that’s
nothing to do with me. You need to find someone
else to get support on that. Nutanix guys will bring
in their own experts on that particular combo and they’ll support us through that. So that’s a good experience.>>Speaks very much to the partnership–>>Absolutely.
>>that you’re saying there. Not just a supplier of a product to you. When I talk to the customer base, one of the biggest challenges any company has these days is really understanding their application portfolio,
what needs to change, what needs to stay the same. You know, Microsoft pushing
everybody to Office 365, you know, changed a lot
of companies out there. You know, what do I sassify? What do a put in managed service provider? What do I just, you know, build natively in the public cloud? Can you bring us through
kind of what you’re seeing at your customer base and
where that does interact with the journey that Nutanix
is bringing people along.>>Yeah, I mean maybe I can tell on that. All of our customers are on
a journey and they need help. They seriously need help for exactly that reason that you said. I mean, this is my job
to understand this stuff. That what a CTO of an
MSP is required to do. The problem is if you’re a COO, we’re really good in construction. You can revolutionize
the construction industry by the application of IT. Particularly during the sell cycle. The ability to VR walk-through. You know, augmented reality. All of that is really cool stuff. And then you’ve go a
thousand sub-contractors that you’re trying to manage
from an IT perspective and that juxtaposition of the
problem is really problematic. I think, for a lot of people. And so, what we’ve done is we’ve said. The first step you can do is just take what you’ve got and get rid
of the management overhead. That’s the easiest,
simplest, straight-forward. And some of the Nutanix,
some of the lift and shift capability that they’ve got. That they will go in and inspect a workload somewhere else. They will work out what resources are required for it. They will pick it up
and they will move it. And we’ve had some fantastic
success to our customers. They’re our greatest advocates. You say, oh my, god, it just happened. One day it was over there. The next day it was over there. And then you can start to
analyze what’s happening. And that’s where we can really add value. Because this is not as simple
as just an application. Because it’s about your security posture. It’s about your DR requirements. It’s about your appetite for
risk versus reward versus cost. And that’s really hard to do when you don’t have the simple
thing, which is there. Which is, “Oh, that piece
of tin cost me $10,000.” And therefore you can
work that out yourself. So, I think the key to all of this is giving tools to the end users. So that the COO in that
company and their IT team, so that they can make those choices in collaboration with an MSP like us. And that goes back to
what you were saying. It’s about, you know, when we
hear problems, we might not even know there’s a problem
before we’ve hit it. And therefore having Nutanix deeply embedded in us is really important. To then being having to
go back to the customer. And sometimes, to the customer, you might actually have
to go, what are you doing? (laughs) How is it going
to work in the long term.>>And as you say, you also
have to provide the value so that the customer understands what they’re actually getting, too. In terms of customer’s future needs. We’re living in this multi-cloud world, how would describe the customer mindset. And how are you coming in with solutions that work for the customer. And having to break the news
to them, on occasion, that, what on Earth are you trying to do here? This is not going to work. (laughs)>>We have a few interesting. So are you going or am
I going to tell them? So, I always send Karen,
off you go. (laughs) And this is where, I
think, we work really well. You know, it is about what is going on. Karen, work with your engineering teams. Try and understand deeply
actually what is going, why is it not a good idea to do that. And that’s the thing. Once you can explain
why, most people’ll go, thank God for that. Finally someone’s telling me
why what I’m trying to achieve isn’t the best way to do it. Because I think a lot of
people, just sort of, you know, it’s just a bit buzz worthy and they just think that
they need to do this. And, you know, talk about the journey we’ve been through. Just how do we move stuff on that. What that three years?>>Yes, it’s three, four years, now.>>You know, it’s a huge amount of work. I mean can you carry what we’re doing?>>Any lessons learned that you might want to share there?>>Oh God yeah, you
probably have 50 of those.>>Are there any that
I could repeat, here? (laughing)
>>Best practices.>>I think one of the biggest
challenges is that, I think, is the re-skilling of your team. So, getting everybody,
first of all, to understand this bright new future you’re moving into. And then, getting them trained upon it. Training is not just going
and sitting in a classroom. It’s going and working on this thing and seeing problems occur and
understanding how to fix them. That’s the biggest problem
that we probably went through. I guess we want our customers
to not have that, though. So, we want them to give us
their workloads and their IT. And we’ll sort it out for them. And that’s where we want to take it. I think in the future
helping them understand what they can do with cloud. So, we don’t just do private cloud. We do public cloud as well. So, we can introduce
opportunities and concepts from a public cloud perspective, as well. AWS is a really good one. We are looking at other
providers, as well. So we help customers solve their problems. Whatever that problem is.>>One of the things that’s
so salient about Zen Internet is that it has a really strong culture. You said that it’s a people first culture. But it’s also a very diverse culture. Bringing in multiple perspectives: women in technology, LGBTQ, other races. Can you talk a little bit about what it means to work at a diverse company and how it changes how
you think about problems and go about solving them?>>Yeah, I guess, that’s
a really good question. I guess, we’re not as
diverse as we’d like to be. We’re not where we’re at
in terms of balancing out the number of women in
tech roles in particular and the diverse tech, but
we give everybody a voice. Which is the main thing. We will see a more wide
range in set of inputs there. So, developing out teams,
high performing teams, you need that mixture of inputs there. Not just about women, by the way. We have a Pride at Zen
Network, for example. Where we try to ensure that
diversity and diverse people feel included in what we
do as a business, as well. And have an opportunity to
have an input into that. So, what does it add for us? I guess people just think differently when they’re from different
cultural backgrounds, they’re from different
nationalities, different races, I guess, different
sexuality, different gender. They’ve all got different
life experiences. So, solving problems is probably the main thing you get
the benefit from there. This industry is full of people
trying to solve problems. And bring in diverse teams,
not just about women in tech, because we saw three women speaking this morning at the keynote,
which was fantastic to see. But it is about the diversity as well. Innovation is the key there, I guess.>>And I think it’s not
just about your staff. If you’ve got the ability
to think differently that applies throughout
the entire ecosystem. And you, you know, you
can take a different view. So, we work very closely
with TM Forum because that’s sort of our industry. The whole application stack about how you approach that. And the TM Forum have really
done some fantastic research that now proves that
the output is different if you have a diverse input. And that, I think, for our
customers is really different. It’s really important
’cause Zen’s different. We’re not one of the big
guys, we’re not a BT. We’re not a Deutsche Telekom. We’re not, you know, one of these people. We think differently, we act differently. We behave differently, we
have a different approach. And the people first. I mean, you know, that
doesn’t mean we’re just here for a good fun time. We’re here to drive this business forward. To generate profitability that we can revest back in
the business to enable us to get on to bigger and greater things. And we’ve go a five year plan,
which will see us, at least, double revenues quite happily. And we’re very confident now that we can execute that. Assuming we can get that
diversity in the business. And it’s a huge challenge. It’s how do you reach out to those people. How do you use the right language. How do you overcome unconscious bias. You know, that’s a massive
thing and it’s great. Again, Nutanix just resonates with us. Some of the little stickers around. They are diverse, they’ve
got different representations of people and it’s shows that someone has thought about that. And that will resonate, it’s
always the classic thing. You do something wrong once,
people remember it forever. You do 100 things right,
you won’t even notice it. And that’s the type of approach. So, for us, we think
it’s real exciting bit. And it’s something that
the entire executive at Zen are absolutely focused
on, is getting this right. Because we know it will secure our future.>>It’d make all the difference.>>It’d make all the difference.>>Great, Justin and
Karen, thank you so much for coming on theCube.>>That was great.>>I’m Rebecca Knight for Stu Miniman. Stay tuned for more of
theCUBE’s live coverage of .NEXT from Copenhagen. (upbeat (music)

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