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Carousel CTO: 'There Is a Real and Growing Talent Shortage'

Jason Viera also shares a customer-success story and addresses technical challenges in this engrossing Q&A.

Carousel Industries bills itself as a multidimensional IT consulting, management and integration provider with a plan to help MSP partners – including those looking to offer carrier services – succeed by being indispensable to customers. We asked newly named CTO Jason Viera about the company's strategy.

Channel Futures: For those who are unfamiliar with Carousel, please give us your version of your CEO’s elevator pitch.

Jason Viera: Carousel is a leading national IT services firm providing security, unified communications and collaboration, data center, networking, managed services and cloud solutions. We have more than 25 years of experience helping thousands of enterprises clients achieve favorable business outcomes, such as increased productivity and agility, new revenue-stream creation, faster time-to-market and reduced operational costs. We serve more than 6,000 customers, including 35 of the Fortune 100. Headquartered in Exeter, Rhode Island, the company has offices across the United States and internationally — with three network operations centers.

CF: What in your opinion is the technical “special sauce” selling point for Carousel?

JV: We believe there are four primary ingredients to our “special sauce.”  First is our breadth of product and solution offerings — we are vendor-agnostic and offer best-in-class technology solutions from a wide and growing range of providers including Avaya, Cisco, Fortinet, Polycom and other leading vendors. To this end, we also can integrate disparate systems and multivendor integrations seamlessly and efficiently.

Second is our depth of expertise — we design and implement unique requirements to [meet] our customers' individual needs. We help solve for the best business outcome first and then apply technology that best suits the opportunity. Our Carousel team members’ expertise is some of the deepest in the industry, and our thousands of individual and company certifications are a testament to that level of dedication.

Third, we deliver a level of "proactivity" that helps our clients see around corners – identifying challenges and opportunities – in turn giving them a competitive edge to their business.

Fourth is our flexible deployment model: capex, opex, cloud, on-premise[s], managed services — no matter how you want to consume technology, we have the service, solution and financial model to make it a reality.

CF: How many clients are using products or services that Carousel helps them select and implement? Do you work direct with end customers, or are you exclusive to channel?  Do you work with other MSPs to help them help customers?

JV: Carousel currently has more than 6,000 customers nationwide in key vertical markets such as financial services; health care; manufacturing; government; oil, gas and energy; education; retail; sports and entertainment; and legal.  We work directly with the end customers of our technology partners including those highlighted above.

Yes, Carousel does currently work with other MSPs. Last year, we launched our new partner program which allows solution providers to bundle and resell our portfolio of solutions and services. It's designed to be a single source for partners to fulfill their customers' needs. By offering both the suite of solutions from managed services to security, video and data infrastructure, we are going to market with something valuable and and very different from any other master agent.

CF: MSPs seem to be increasingly interested in offering communications technologies that were once way out of their purview. What’s driving that, and what are some keys to success?

JV: The large and growing number of UC platforms available today, coupled with the change in consumption models and the need for flexibility and scalability, are driving MSPs to offer more consultative services and managed UC services and solutions. Additionally, because the many business communication methods – email, VoIP, etc. – are offered by different vendors, there are disparate systems that must be integrated; an MSP is perfect for managing this type of complex environment.

Lastly, because these communication methods rely on other technologies and solutions, like security, networking, data center, cloud, etc., it’s beneficial to work with a single provider that will lead the project from design to deployment.

CF: Who are your main competitors, and what makes your offering better from a technology perspective?

JV: Carousel competes with a range of IT, as well as managed services and cloud service providers. These range from the very largest offshore outsourced IT vendors, as well as a host of smaller, niche firms. Carousel differentiates itself in a few key areas. First, we are a national firm with reach into other geographies. We have a national presence with local, boots-on-the-ground support, to deliver quick and efficient service to our clients. We also bring the scale, breadth of services, flexibility of deployment options and 25 years’ experience that other firms simply can't deliver. Finally, we offer specialization in several industries and technology areas that matter most to enterprise customers, including managed services, cloud, security, collaboration, unified communications and data center.

Above all, we have more than 1,300 team members that work tirelessly to deliver the best services and solutions in the industry.

CF: When you talk to a prospective client, what is their biggest technical challenge today that’s NOT addressed by your services, and what’s your advice?

JV: For the past few months we've heard clients expressing the need for assistance addressing their cloud subscriptions. Over time, this sentiment was continuously echoed, so much so that we decided to implement our own customer-success team to support our clients with their as-a-service solutions. Our customer-success team is a group of partners and advisers who help make subscription management easier and more efficient, whether clients are updating, adding, moving, renewing, or simply have a question, and maximize the value of subscription services, ensuring clients are achieving the most value per dollar out of their subscription.

CF: What’s your biggest internal technical challenge at your own company?

JV: Industry-wide there is a real and growing talent shortage, and no technology or IT services firm is immune to this challenge. To combat this, Carousel works diligently to attract and retain the most talented, versatile and passionate technology professionals.

To serve our clients and keep our employees engaged and knowledgeable, we are continuously identifying new technology trends and we work to ensure that our professionals continuously learn and apply new skills, train/cross-train and obtain further education and the most valuable certifications. This ongoing effort helps ensure they can apply these skills to our clients’ most pressing IT and business challenges.

CF: What’s your favorite customer-success story, where you solved a business problem or enabled a new product, for example?

JV: One of the most impactful customer stories is from Lorien Health Systems, where our team implemented telehealth solutions to maximize the quality of life for their patients and for their family members.

With all systems live and a focus on innovative technologies like telehealth, Lorien quickly reaped the benefits to accelerate growth. Among the technology milestones we helped them to reach include:

  • A five-times increase in internet speed for faster synching and critical-care information availability.
  • Improved reliability and redundancy in all areas of telecom.
  • Dedicated, secure and private WAN tunnels for patient privacy and HIPAA compliance.
  • Better functionality and bandwidth for future projects such as AV, UC and voice.
  • Redesigned every site's wireless/Wi-Fi infrastructure to allow residents, staff and visitors smooth access and movement within each site seamlessly.
  • Overhaul of security devices with managed firewalls.

CF: How did you come to the CTO role?

JV: I’ve been very fortunate in my 20-year career to have been surrounded by some phenomenal mentors that have guided me along my journey from technology practitioner into technology leadership roles. This journey started more than 20 years ago in various IT roles at Amgen, Procter & Gamble and CNI before joining Cisco, where I spent about five years in engineering-leadership roles. This customer-side experience provided significant insight into the intersection of people, process and technology, and served me well when I made the leap to Carousel in 2016.  Initially, I served as director of networking solutions and then senior director of infrastructure solutions. I have taken on increasing levels of responsibility, particularly in our Cisco practice given both my experience and interest in Cisco solutions. Last month I was named CTO and I am now responsible for leading Carousel’s technology vision. I will maintain a primary focus on ensuring the company’s services and solutions are competitively positioned, while also working with our service-delivery teams consistently deliver valuable business outcomes to Carousel clients.

Jason Viera

CF: What didn’t we ask that you’d like our readers to know?

JV: I’d like them to understand that Carousel is a national firm with a rapidly growing presence in the South, Southwest, and western regions of the United States with an ever-increasing portfolio of services in the fastest-growing segments of business and technology — cloud, enterprise collaboration, virtualization and security.

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