Microsoft’s local Azure business lead Joshua Boys has stepped out of his role with the vendor to start up his own systems integration and consultancy business specialising in Azure and agile app development.
Arkahna, as the new venture is called, is a collaboration between three local leaders in cloud-native technology — Satalyst CTO Leigh Shayler, Insight intelligent applications practice lead Matthew Menezes and Boys, all of whom are based in Perth.
The new Microsoft partner has been set up in an effort to deliver an end-to-end experience designed to support customers’ organisations from design and build to the training, coaching and adoption of new technology.
According to Boys, who was Microsoft’s Australian Azure business lead for more than four years before kicking off the venture, the new provider is designed to be a sort of hybrid organisation, somewhere between a consulting firm, a systems integrator and an independent software vendor (ISV).
“Arkahna is basically a cloud-native and modern ways of working business,” Boys told ARN. “Not about professional services, but definitely containing that cloud-native app dev element, from low-code through to high-code – the full spectrum.
“We’re also heavily focusing on agile ways of working and other forms of coaching – more coaching that training,” he added.
Boys comes to co-founding the new company, along with Shayler and Menezes, after more than four years at Microsoft and over six years at Ignia, where he was chief evangelist and CTO for at least a year before jumping across to the vendor.
Not coincidentally, fellow co-founders and directors Menezes and Shayler also worked at the Western Australian business technology consulting and managed services provider at the same time as Boys.
Menesez was Ignia’s WA modern apps digital practice lead for several years, while Shayler was Ignia technical architect and technical specialist. Ignia was acquired by Insight in 2016 with both Shayler and Menezes having also done time under the Insight brand.
For Boys, it was time to identify as a partner again after several years in vendor-land with Microsoft.
“I’ve been at Microsoft now, leading the Azure business, for just over four years,” Boys said. “And I’ve kind of outgrown the role a little bit...the business group I was part of has undergone a fair bit of change over the past four years, and I think it was just time for me to go do something else.
“Over the last four years I’ve coached a lot of partners on what I consider to be the ‘ideal partner’ and understanding where all the gaps are, both in the partner landscape and the product landscape as well. So, I thought it was about time to go and do it myself,” he added.
From Boys’ perspective, a big part of this move is all about putting his money where his proverbial mouth is in terms of creating Arkahna to demonstrate what the ‘ideal partner’ really is.
According to Boys, Microsoft has been trying to build this ‘ideal partner’ view for a long time, but many partners are struggling to do it, particularly older partners.
This is not the same for partners of vendors such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud, both of which are newer to the enterprise tech scene than Microsoft and, as such, claim a much younger network of partners than Microsoft does.
AWS and Google Cloud partners already tend to understand that a partner needs to be a combination professional services and managed service provider, according to Boys, along with some coaching or training and, in many cases, some kind of product offering.
“That hybrid partner is the ideal partner, and it’s agile. The whole business needs to be agile...it allows you to test new concepts and pivot really quickly,” Boys said. “You need to live and breathe what you preach to customers.
“And Microsoft partners traditionally don’t do that very well because the partners have been around for a lot longer as well; Microsoft has had partners for a lot longer that Google and AWS, so it’s a different beast, really.
“And even some of the newer partners that have sprung up, some of them are doing it successfully, but they’re still not nailing that true hybrid nature that’s required,” he added.
As such, Arkahna is built around that ‘ideal partner’ image, so long sought after by the vendor. In this goal, Arkahna’s go-to-market is Microsoft Azure first, but the company is also launching as a HashiCorp partner as well as doing a fair bit of work with the likes of Atlassian, GitHub and other players on the toolchain side of things.
“The team has all got AWS and Google skills as well, I think you need to be able to support your customers on those journeys, but our go to market is Azure first,” Boys said.