Making their name with IBM
The Miami Dolphins and the Atlanta Falcons share a secret: Flagship Solutions Group, a Beacon Award-winning IBM Premier Business Partner that has a history with IBM. A longtime, active part of the IBM ecosystem, delivering compute and storage solutions to a diverse range of customers, Flagship was also an early mover in the cloud. Today, the company builds its managed services business around the IBM Cloud.
In recent years, Flagship has become well known for its Smarter Stadium offering utilized by both the Dolphins and the Falcons at their new Mercedes-Benz stadium. “Smarter Stadium” also refers to a deep integration of tools, techniques, and technologies, including IBM Intelligent Operations Center and IBM Software-Defined Storage.
Thinking locally and growing globally
Today, Flagship provides IBM solutions, managed services, and cloud solutions worldwide. These include data center strategic planning and hybrid cloud implementations based on a wide range of assessments that look at virtualization, server consolidation, security, and infrastructure-focused integration. Flagship’s managed services include cloud-based server monitoring and management, 24×7 helpdesk support, and data center infrastructure management.
According to Mark Wyllie, Flagship CEO, Flagship’s strategy is to first perform a service called “Infralytics™” (infrastructure + analytics) which aims to assess the existing customer infrastructure from a holistic view to uncover business issues and provide empirical data. That data is delivered via a consolidated dashboard that yields a roadmap of recommendations to streamline and better manage business processes and infrastructure.
Weather tech for NASCAR
In the case of Flagship’s customer NASCAR, an assessment showed that the weather was what they really needed to understand and integrate into operations. With scores of NASCAR racetracks from coast to coast, keeping crowds happy, drivers safe, and competitive series on schedule is paramount. “We used the IBM Cloud and the Weather Company APIs to create a custom weather-tracking dashboard,” Wyllie explains.
The WeatherTrack—a real-time weather insights dashboard that was developed on the IBM Cloud by leveraging Flagship Solutions’ Infralytics™ methodology—provides critical information, including rain start and stop times, wind speed, lightning proximity, and tornado and flash flood warnings, to help organizers optimize each event. NASCAR also plans to use weather forecasting and analytics to help improve longer-term planning.
Designing business solutions
In essence, the Flagship approach is business first and then technology with a critical middle step—gathering solid data about the existing customer environment. “That way we are making decisions based on what is really happening, not just on what people think is happening,” adds Wyllie.
Wyllie explains that Flagship takes advantage of any tools the customer may already have deployed to begin the data gathering and monitoring tasks. In addition, they often deploy tools like IBM’s BigFix to get a clear picture of all endpoints. “For example, we are currently working with a financial services company to do a map scan that will result in a full network diagram that will allow us to then update and patch both critical endpoints and servers,” Wyllie explains.
Building with IBM’s broad base of technology
Wyllie also salutes IBM for its orientation toward a hybrid cloud world. “I think the world is moving in a multi-cloud direction, and IBM has embraced that rather than viewing the world as 100 percent public-cloud-oriented, which is the typical vantage point people associate with Amazon and Google,” he said. Furthermore, Wyllie said the IBM cloud is enterprise-oriented, while competitors “came from a consumer perspective.”
“A big part of our business these days is onboarding, monitoring, and managing customers that typically are still on-premises-based and want to move to the cloud,” Wyllie explains. “IBM even brings us into deals where that is the focus,” he adds.
Looking to the future, Wyllie said he is excited about the prospect of leveraging IBM’s leading-edge technology. For more information on IBM Cloud visit: www.ibm.com/cloud.