David Able, a successful solution provider entrepreneur who founded virtualization superstar LogicsOne, is taking a job as a managing partner and chief operating officer of Edge Solutions.
Able, who sold LogicsOne to national solution provider GreenPages five years ago, said he made the decision to join Alpharetta, Ga.-based Edge because of the "great people" and "phenomenal culture" of the 10-year-old CRN Tech Elite 250 award winner.
"Edge has a great soul," said Able, noting the end of his non-compete clause opened an opportunity to get back in the solution provider game alongside Edge co-founders Julie and Michael Haley. "I pride myself on good people bring good business. That was the primary decision behind joining Edge."
Able, who is coming off a consulting engagement helping $11 billion telecom giant Cox Communications build out its cloud strategy, said his goal is nothing short of driving the transformation of Edge into a "next-generation" systems integrator for the cloud era with specialized technologies aimed at reducing customer complexity.
"I am going to bring boutique quality services to the enterprise with the focused company structure like I had at LogicsOne," he said. "I want to enhance the offerings to include specialized technologies that deal with the cloud to reduce complexity for all customers. There is a tremendous amount of complexity that is making it hard for customers to decide what to do."
The 48-year-old entrepreneur, who built LogicsOne into what was widely considered the best VMware partner in the business, said the tactical transformation of Edge will require a no-holds-barred focus on "business value" rather than selling products, said Able.
"Everybody is talking about cloud and transformation—I am going to actually focus on the actual tactical plans and implementations to truly help people as opposed to just talking strategy," he said. "Our goal is to be the people they come to to implement and make things happen dealing with the people and process issues."
Able, who has taken on a number of high-profile management consulting engagements in the Southeast over the past two decades, said his wide-ranging technology contacts will open the door for him to bring in other "entrepreneurs" that are part of the "Southeast ecosystem" to help drive big competitive advantages for customers.
"These are people I can bring to customers that they would probably not be able to get to otherwise," he said. "That is one of the reasons why Edge saw my involvement as key to bringing them into the cloud era."
Able, who also was a cofounder of Windward Technology Group, which was sold to hospitality solution provider Eltrax Systems, in 1999, said over the next six months he is going to line up the "skills and talent" to power the Edge transformation. "I am going to partner with the best-of-breed-focused companies in the Southeast and bring those teams together so we can build an offering list that no other company can," he said.
Able said he aims to leverage both existing vendor partner relationships and embrace new technologies including red-hot software automation and provisioning technologies like Ansible, Puppet and Chef.
"To be able to support the hybrid cloud model that most companies are going to end up going to, you have to be in the actual automation business including software-defined networking," he said.
The hybrid cloud era necessitates a different approach than the strategy he employed at LogicsOne, said Able.
"If anybody tells you they can ride one horse into the cloud they don't understand the market," he said. "When I built LogicsOne, VMware was a game-changing technology that actually customers needed to make that change. Today there is no one technology somebody can hold on to that is going to make cloud viable and easy and the ROI simple. That is not possible anymore. That is why a lot of VARs are having trouble. I believe the value of partners is to focus on the business problem and, based on the business problem, bring the right products to bear."
The solution provider landscape, in fact, has shifted dramatically from a market in which customers were looking for specific products to a focus on driving business value, said Able.
"It is our responsibility to go into an account and actually figure out how we help them maximize their profitability," he said. "If we do that we become in a cliché term a partner. I want to become a friend."
Able said one of the reasons he joined Edge was because of the company's ability to deliver new technologies to customers. "Edge is phenomenal in its ability to do what they say they are going to do and do what they say," he said. "I am really proud of joining this team."
In addition to naming Able to lead the transformation, Edge promoted Darin DeHart, a six-year Edge veteran who was vice president of sales, to executive vice president with sole responsibility for overseeing the day-to-day sales force.
DeHart, who worked alongside Edge President Michael Haley at distribution powerhouse Arrow Electronics, said he is looking forward to working with Able to bring new highly technical sales talent to the fore to help customers drive business value.
"David and I complement each other," he said. "My expertise is in the traditional data center and how to get that business done. We have got to keep doing what we do well now, while David builds out our expertise into this new market."
Edge President Haley said he feels a "level of energy and confidence" with the new team going into 2018. "I am not a technologist, but I do understand that great companies are only built through people," he said. "Lots of people place bets on technology. Julie and I place bets on people who understand technology."
Able, for his part, said the task of building out a company like Edge is a "sweet spot" for him.
"This is what I love to do," he said. "I like bringing good people together and I love being part of a great team. That is why I am doing this. It is that simple."