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New Signature: Partnering its way to stardom

For the second consecutive year, 13-year-old New Signature, which is based in Washington, D.C., has been named the Microsoft United States Partner of the Year. Last year, the Microsoft-centric managed service provider and cloud-first company specialized in design, customization, management and support of private and public cloud services as well as hybrid environments. Today, the partner company also calls itself an independent software vendor (ISV).

With the recent $35 million infusion of cash from Columbia Capital, a venture capital firm based in Alexandria, Va., New Signature company President and Founder Chris Hertz set out to expand the company’s capabilities and geographic reach.

On June 1, with the acquisition of CMS Consulting Inc. and Infrastructure Guardian — two Toronto-based Microsoft partners — New Signature Canada was launched. The transaction expanded the partner’s skill set to include specialization in Microsoft infrastructure and ISV and managed services from Infrastructure Guardian, a sister company to CMS Consulting. Brian Bourne, founder of both Canadian firms, heads up New Signature Canada as president.

Partner partnering has been an essential ingredient to the success of both New Signature and CMS Consulting. Were it not for partnering, New Signature wouldn’t be the company it is today, Hertz said.

“Today, there’s a much broader set of technologies that businesses can consume and, as a result, it requires greater partnerships,” he said.

Providing business solutions today exceeds the scope of expertise of a single partner, he noted.

“I believe that if you look at companies that have been successful versus companies that have not been successful, a lot of our success has been predicated on embracing the new [technologies] and helping our customers solve for that, and that means working with a broader set of partners,” Hertz said.

Five years ago, New Signature, founded in 2003, didn’t have a director of alliances role dedicated to finding — and going to market with — the right partners.

“That’s because the importance wasn’t quite as high,” said Hertz.

Today, New Signature boasts a broad set of partnerships across a range of Microsoft partners. Implementing a Skype for Business server project on-premises or even online requires about half a dozen partners to bring the solution to market, for example.

“It requires a litany of partners – some who fill in gaps and others who bring more advanced solutions to market with our customers. It’s about going out and saying, ‘What are we really good at? We’re good at these four things, and the customer needs a solution that requires a broader set of capabilities; let’s go out and find that really amazing partner to work together,'” explained Hertz.

Interestingly enough, CMS Consulting and sister company Infrastructure Guardian had not partnered with New Signature prior to the acquisition. However, Hertz said they were a well-known Microsoft partner.

“We went out looking for set of really smart, talented and intellectually curious folks who really fit with our culture and would deliver a set of skills and capabilities that we didn’t have in-house,” he said.

CMS Consulting was also a Microsoft Partner Award winner. The company won the Microsoft Canada 2014 IMPACT Award and is in the running for the same award this year, along with collaborating partner iMason.

As an infrastructure company with a narrow focus around Microsoft technologies, CMS Consulting often partnered with application development partners, providing the complex infrastructure that sits beneath the application. Then, when these application-level solution providers showed a desire to move to an as-a-service model — running and managing the application for customers — they white-labeled Bourne’s Infrastructure Guardian service. Infrastructure Guardian provides 24/7 cloud management as a service for the public, private and hybrid cloud environments.

Two drivers prompted Bourne to sell his companies. The first had to do with changes in the IT marketplace, particularly how customer buying has changed to prefer as-a-service buying and beyond working with niche partners. The second driver was the strong track record of Columbia Capital and the firm’s plans to build a big North American Microsoft partner — a task that would have been much more difficult doing with his own cash flow — as well as the experience of New Signature, said Bourne.

The new New Signature has 150 employees.