Sergey Nivens -

Ultima CEO talks of digital strategy

With the recent deal for cloud services player Just After Midnight in the bag, Scott Dodds is looking ahead to carving out more digital transformation business

The past year has seen Ultima set up its own labs and dip into the acquisition market with its purchase of Just After Midnight (JAM) as the business looks to position itself as a hybrid cloud specialist.

Ultima CEO Scott Dodds has been at the helm, driving the changes. Following the recent acquisition, he updates MicroScope on the firm’s strategy and its ambitions for the future.

He starts by putting the JAM deal into the wider context and providing some background to the deal and the rationale behind it.

“We’ve been on this journey to transform our business more into a hybrid cloud business rather than just a traditional private cloud business that it was back in the day,” says Dodds. “So over the last few years, we’ve moved very fast into the area of digital transformation and how we use automation as a lever in driving some of those conversations about moving to the cloud and cloud services.”

He says Just After Midnight will form the basis of a cloud and application services division at Ultima, helping it accelerate that strategy and giving it the chance to offer customers “follow the sun” support.

“Cloud services are 24/7/365 and you need that kind of capability to manage those on a global basis, remembering the cloud is entirely country independent – you can run these systems and servers anywhere in the world,” says Dodds. “A key element to this was to build that global capability.”

It is not just about supporting customers – Ultima has its own managed services and IA-Cloud automation management platforms, and is working with an increasing number of channel partners that could also benefit from having access to global support.

JAM marks the first deal for Ultima since coming under the ownership of Apse Capital, which has been keen to put more muscle behind the strategy of becoming an automation and cloud services specialist.

Dodds is also clear that this will not be the last acquisition that Ultima makes, and in a market that has already seen high levels of M&A activity in the first quarter of 2021, there is likely to be more to come.

“We are continuing to look for additional acquisitions to add to these capabilities, so you’ll see more of this going forward, now we’ve got the first one under our belt,” he says.

It has only been a few weeks since the JAM deal was struck, and the two businesses are in the process of identifying the synergies that the tie-up will produce, but Dodds has already seen some fruits of the investment.

“We’ve generated, in a very short space of time, a whole bunch of opportunities on both sides for our joint customer bases to work on, so it’s already bringing what we have together,” he says.

The timing of the JAM deal also comes at a moment when most customers are reviewing their own strategies in light of a year of remote working and greater cloud adoption. 

“What we’ve seen in the past 12 months is a change in working practices, with remote working, and thinking about how you use cloud more than your own private datacentre or hosted datacentre. Those dynamics are really going to play out in the next year or two as companies rethink strategies, rethink where they run their core workloads, and how they think about SaaS [software as a service] and cloud infrastructure,” he says.

“What we’re trying to do here is build this new level of services capability and digital capability to support our customers as they transform and transition in the next couple of years,” says Dodds.

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