Experienced. Highly skilled. Strategically aligned.
These are a few ways customers and vendors alike describe Gotham Technology Group, a 15-year old IT solutions company that serves Fortune 500 customers in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Washington and beyond. With a proven project management methodology, Gotham has become a key player among corporate customers with exacting technological needs in the areas of virtualization, infrastructure, storage, application development and security. Last year, the 145-person company generated more than $75 million in sales. This year, it expects to top $85 million.
For all its prowess and focus on big business—the company serves four of the nation’s 10 largest banks—Gotham is not above serving the needs of small and sometimes overlooked organizations. Take its work with Shelton Public Schools of Fairfield County, Conn. The company’s efforts to help the school system “deliver access to applications while providing each student, teacher and faculty member with an empowered user experience” has been recognized by Citrix, which named Gotham an “Innovation Award Finalist” for 2016. Gotham is one of just three Citrix partners to earn the distinction. (The other two are Kelway Ltd of the UK and the newly rebranded Forthright Technology Partners of the U.S.)
This week in Las Vegas at Citrix Summit 2016, The VAR Guy caught up with Gotham CTO Ken Phelan and Marketing Manager Lauren Rodabaugh to learn why the company is considered a standout innovator. While they had much to say, it was the words of Dan DiVito, the director of technology at Shelton Public Schools, that helped us understand what sets Gotham apart.
In a promotional video, DiVito outlines the challenge that faced Gotham. The school system, he explains, serves children from all walks of life. Some are the sons and daughters of professionals, while others are the children of working-class parents trying to make ends meets. Given their diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, Shelton students rely on a mix of technology products to connect with the school system. This puts enormous demand on DiVito’s team to provide reliable and secure access to lessons, assignments and other data.
“We don’t want to pigeon-hole families into having to use one specific type of product,” says DiVito. A longtime Citrix customer, DiVito knew the Shelton School System could provide better service with some additional expertise. That’s when it turned to Gotham.
Gotham was asked to help the school, which doesn’t have the means to upgrade equipment as quickly or as robustly as corporate customers, to nonetheless make its existing Windows desktop machines perform as capably as newer devices. After applying Gotham's know-how around XenApp, the school was able to offer the connectivity flexibility that the school system’s diverse user base demanded. The solution was so effective that the school system was able to prioritize more cost-effective Chromebooks and still provide access to Windows applications using XenApp. “Instead of getting 10 laptops, we can now buy 30,” says DiVito. “Instead of having students walk to a [computer] lab, we’re bringing the lab to them.”
Teachers have also benefitted from the Citrix technology deployed by Gotham. Instead of working late at school, teachers can now connect to lesson planning and grading apps directly from their homes no matter what devices they use. Science teacher Eric Wolf says the technology has led to a direct improvement in terms of student engagement and teacher productivity. What is more, the school system estimates that it has saved more than $2 million in costs over the last decade by using Citrix technology.
For Gotham, which is used to working with competitive corporate behemoths, the challenge to help a public school with different needs, objectives and limitations was a welcome test that stretched it in different ways, says CTO Phelan.
“Schools have all these mandates regarding testing and other things that spell out what have you do. That can influence everything from strategy to capital investment. Schools, for example, are very good with capital expenses but not as adept at making the most of ongoing operating investments. So when you layer these issues on top of trying to bridge a digital divide between students, you get to understand the scope of the challenge,” says Phelan.
Over the years of developing its education practice, Gotham has learned plenty of lessons from helping under-funded and under-staffed schools get the most from their modest investments. “Kids,” Phelan notes, “don't struggle with the question ‘which disk is my file on?’ They simply understand how things work.”
But they still need help. Like other technologists, Phelan believes tech companies have indeed helped students in many ways but have fallen in one regard: providing applications that not just augment the learning experience but transform it by making it more accessible, personalized and relevant.
The Citrix platform is the missing piece to overcome this issue, Phelan adds, because it opens the world of possibility to those with even modest means.