Solnet rebuilds with open source and hardware

Commercial open source now a high growth area, says Solnet boss

IT services company Solnet has rebuilt its business, with the emphasis on agile programming, open source and hardware, all backed by a new ICT delivery philosophy.

Solnet became certified last week to sell EMC storage hardware, completing a major transition for the company, says managing director Mark Botherway.

“We’ve always delivered standards-based components, but as the technology has matured commercially supported open source has become the fastest growing area of business,” he says.

“We have increasingly moved from building components to integrating pre-built components.”

Solnet has chosen to add hardware to its enterprise stack offerings. It will offer the entire EMC range, other than the very high end, and has signed a deal with IBM to sell mainly mid-range hardware.

“We’ve extended our proposition down to hardware and up to the application space,” Botherway says.

“The current economic realities have accelerated our determination to offer value. To do that, rather than be agnostic about technology, we are prepared to take bets.”

He says the CIO at Suncorp in Australia, where Solnet has had a major contract to provide Agile programming, has a view that some of the proprietary vendors have had their day.

“That clarified my thinking. The core premise behind our focus is that information system investments must deliver credible business benefits in the short order. Monolithic products and long-run projects, and those that can only promise incremental improvements, are no longer acceptable.

“Revolutionary changes must be made. As a result, traditional means of delivering on IT investments have changed forever.”

He says commercially supported open source is now mature enough for almost any organisation to seriously consider it as part of the organisation’s information infrastructure strategy.

“The artificial demarcation between IT and the business will dissolve as organisations accept that information assets typically represent the essence of their raison d’etre and that delivering and exploiting information systems investments are the universal responsibility of the executive and governance functions.”

For the enterprise software infrastructure stack, Solnet now offers Red Hat, JBoss, Ingres and Eclipse. It has adopted Adobe’s enterprise information lifecycle products and will use Adobe Forms to move into the document management and enterprise content spaces.

The Agile approach is key. Botherway says Solnet has not only been able to adapt the theory of Agile to synchronise it with typical ‘real world’ commercial considerations, but had learned that for Agile to be truly effective requires a cultural realignment across the business. “In effect, taking a true Agile approach to project delivery is an excellent tool to begin to remove the artificial distinction between IT and the business.”

Botherway says Solnet has made a “tremendous” investment in training, particularly cross-training all staff in Agile practices.

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