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​Over 35 years, Advantage perfects the art of the pivot

​Over 35 years, Advantage perfects the art of the pivot

Palmerston North-based Advantage has changed its model at least four times since it was founded.

Brad Pearpont (Advantage)

Brad Pearpont (Advantage)

Credit: Supplied

After being either the first or the second of Dell’s channel partners in New Zealand, the relationship with Dell EMC remains a cornerstone part of the business.

“That has been our core play all the way through with EMC integration and VMware across the top in most cases,” Pearpont said. “Veeam is a key part for disaster recovery.”

MSP services such as patch management, help desk, new deployments of hardware, asset management and planning, often with staff on site, are also wrapped around that.

While many MSPs have faced severe disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic, Pearpont said that really depended on the verticals the MSP was supporting.

“I’m aware of a couple of MSPs that are quite heavily into hospitality and their clients are disappearing,” he said. “We are a little more isolated from that because we focus more on medical, financial, manufacturing but we do have some exposure.”

The new MSSP business, AdvantageProtect, has also felt some effect, as struggling prospects deferred investment.

“It’s not that people don’t want to do it, but security is one of those things people can defer for a few months and take the risk,” he said.

“It’s dangerous in today’s climate because we are definitely seeing a huge uptick in COVID-related phishing scams and attacks some of which have been quite successful.”

One key vendor partnership for the service is with BlackBerry Spark for endpoint protection and device management.

“Endpoints are where everything is done,” Pearpont said. “The more we move to cloud, the more the endpoint becomes critical.”

Outsourced security information and event management (SIEM) is branded Revelation and  underpinned by LogRhythm

Other partners in the security space include Cofense, Radware and Forcepoint

One of the biggest challenges to the new business line is recruiting talent.

Now with 26 staff in total, Advantage had brought on three new security hires this year and was still looking for one more.

“We have a couple of things going for us in Palmerston Nth,” Pearpont said. “There are very few opportunities to do the type of work we are doing outside the big cities.

“So the people that we are getting are coming here to work here and aren’t likely to be poached away.”

With people generally trying to get out of the big cities at the moment, most of the recent hires came from Auckland and Wellington.

“But in general the experienced people are hard to find. We have some new grads and others that have been in IT for a couple of years, so have a training process in place.”

Advantage has staff in Auckland as well now and that team is growing as new clients are recruited, often through word-of-mouth.

Almost all of the Auckland clients are also security related because, Pearpont said, what the company was doing was “fairly unique”.

“There is not many MSSPs in New Zealand so far outside of the tier one vendors,” he said. “We seem to be filling that void pretty nicely.”


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