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Executive Spotlight: Will Dantzler of NetBase Corporation

ExecutiveBiz: Who are some of your biggest clients?

Will Dantzler: We came out in 1999, as one of the first companies to offer a web based time and attendance product under the software as a service model called “easyTIMESHEET”.  We wanted to build for the company a tripod of businesses for our stability, so that upon graduation from the 8(a) program, we would have a very stable platform of businesses.  We have our business with easyTIMESHEET on the commercial side offering that as a service, leasing it on a monthly basis, to commercial companies; we do have a few government clients.  We also have two major projects with the Department of Labor and the Farm Service Agency.  With the Department of Labor we have a case management system that is currently used to manage over 340,000 cases in the areas of judicial review process for black lung disease, longshoremen, whistle blowers  while tracking twenty-eight types of events.  The system manages over 3 million events and we issue about 250,000 documents each year for the entire country across eight regions. We developed the system and – maintain it for the government.

I’ve seen a lot of companies basically say we can provide support across all these myriad of platforms and services, versus saying that you have expertise in a particular area.  That’s what government clients want: they are looking for the expertise in an identified service platform so you can come to them and offer your consulting expertise specifically. -Will Dantzler

ExecutiveBiz:  As someone who is involved in cloud computing, do you see a growing demand for things like SAAS in the government?

Will Dantzler:  We very much see a need for that and in fact, we are working with our clients on the virtual environments.  We have a lot of consulting expertise and experience in helping clients move to a virtual environment. In the cloud computing domain, we basically do consulting to look at the infrastructure, look at what the performance parameters are and we take the measurements in the various areas so that we can get with the customer and help them to realize the performance improvements and the savings that they can get by moving to a virtual environment.  As a Microsoft Gold Certified partner, we have a lot of expertise in the Hyper V product, which is one of Microsoft’s products for moving into a virtual environment.   We basically are working with clients now.  There is an initiative by OMB to consolidate datacenters across the government, and we’re involved with that initiative in terms of providing advice and working with our clients on how they can best optimize their environments and report on the information back to OMB: their processing centers, their time sharing services and hosting services, and if they currently utilize cloud services. A collection of all of that information is what we are looking at.  We are looking at what the organization has dedicated in terms of their power needs, their space, their cooling systems and their backup power mechanisms, etc.  That’s a lot of what the government is doing right now in cloud computing, because you can really start maximizing and really have consolidation of the IT centers if you start looking at what the cloud computing environment offers.

ExecutiveBiz:  You mentioned that you recently graduated from your 8(a) designation.  What is the key to success?

Will Dantzler:  The key to success is to prepare well ahead of time.  We were looking at post 8(a) five years ahead of when we actually graduated and basically established our strategic plan.  The best advice is to maintain the business plan of where you want to go with your company.  You have to look at the environment that you are going to be in after you graduate from 8(a) and making sure that you are bringing something unique to the business and to the competitive environment, whether that’s consulting expertise that is top tier or whether it is a product that is unique to the marketplace where there is limited competition or whether it’s the skill sets of the people that you have that are unique in advanced technologies like cloud computing or virtualization.  By the time you graduate from the 8(a) program, you should have reduced your reliance on 8(a) contracts in terms of the percentage of your business and I think that’s what really hurts a lot of 8(a) companies.  When those contracts expire they don’t have other types of contracts or business to backfill.  Diversifying your base outside of 8(a) really eases the transition into the post 8(a) environment.

ExecutiveBiz:  What is some advice you could give to other growing contractors on how to break into the next level of size and growth?

Will Dantzler:  Really focus on specific expertise, the temptation these days is to have some knowledge across the entire spectrum of information technology.  It continues to get broader and broader because of the fact that there are so many technologies across the board when you look at web services, cloud computing infrastructure, the development tools, the process improvement tools, etc. – there are just so many areas and platforms to delve into.  I’ve seen a lot of companies basically say we can provide support across all these myriad of platforms and services, versus saying that you have expertise in a particular area.  That’s what government clients want: they are looking for the expertise in an identified service platform so you can come to them and offer your consulting expertise specifically.  I would say to really focus and be good in a couple of areas versus being a generalist across a dozen areas.

ExecutiveBiz:  Are there any quick tips for virtualization?

Will Dantzler:  My first point of advice would be to ask yourself ‘do I understand what virtualization truly means’?  It’s not as easy as it sounds.  It is a process and it is a very extensive process.  There are variations of it, but virtualizing legacy applications, especially if they are not web based, is very challenging.  There are components of a lot of applications that are still under legacy code and operate in the client server environment and are still around from those days.  People want to virtualize that whole environment, so it is an extensive process to understand and transitioning to virtualization is not easy.  It takes someone with knowledge but more important, you have to understand what it means to the organization.  It’s not something that just happens overnight, it takes some in depth planning, some evaluation of ‘is virtualization the way for your organization to go, given where you are at today?’. That requires bringing in consultation to take a look at your environment and look at your processes and say, ‘what can we virtualize now with the various applications that we have?’.  What’s the low hanging fruit, versus what’s going to take a longer period of time?  It’s not unlike a business reengineering process, because some of the same facets of that process apply to looking at moving into a virtualized environment.

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