Nick Marcarelli is passionate about building great teams to tackle modern business challenges. He oversees the day to day engineering practice and business operations at Shadow-Soft. He works closely with the Shadow-Soft team and customers to develop engineering solutions to solve IT business needs. Previously he spent 7 years managing a technology rental and leasing portfolio for a subsidiary of TD Synnex. He is an avid sports fan and enjoys cooking meals for friends and family.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- Common challenges that small to large enterprises are trying to solve with transformational infrastructure
- How do organizations evaluate technology decisions with all the noise from industry
- How to insulate your organization from the hype of the new shiny tool
- What buzzword technology concepts are actually solving organizational challenges in technology
- How do local partnerships foster innovation
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:04] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for Atlanta Business Radio. Brought to you by on pay. Atlanta’s New standard in payroll. Now, here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:25] Lee Kantor here another episode of Atlanta Business Radio, and this is going to be a good one. But before we get started, it’s important to recognize our sponsor, Onpay. Without them, we couldn’t be sharing these important stories. Today on Atlanta Business Radio, we have Nick Marcarelli with Shadow Soft. Welcome. Thanks for having me. Well, I’m excited to learn what you’re up to. Tell us about Shadow Soft. How you serving folks?
Nick Marcarelli: [00:00:48] Sure. Appreciate it. So Shadow Soft is a integrator in the Kubernetes and kind of modern platform space. What that means for those that aren’t in tech is we we help customers ranging from kind of upper mid market into enterprise, build their platforms to host applications and serve their customers. So we help with all the kind of the boring stuff in the data center that helps make everything move so that you as a consumer get the things that you need.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:17] So if they’re not working with you, how are they attacking this problem?
Nick Marcarelli: [00:01:21] A lot of a lot of companies are, you know, building it on their own. I’d say most companies take that approach initially and from a sustainment perspective. So they have data centers or maybe they’re all in in the cloud these days and they’re building that out with their teams. But one of the hard things about building teams that can sustain and innovate is that you can’t know everything. So we focus on a specific set of technologies and we come in and help with project based work into some longer term sustainment as necessary.
Lee Kantor: [00:01:54] So a lot of times these folks think, Oh, we can just deploy our own people on this and then they quickly realize that they’re in over their head or it’s evolving too quickly and they need an expert.
Nick Marcarelli: [00:02:05] Yes, that’s absolutely correct. And that’s the gap that we try to fill for these organizations, is that it’s hard to be an expert in everything. We’re not an expert in everything, but the areas that we focus on, we can really help propel that innovation forward so they can meet the demands of their customers.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:23] So what are some of the symptoms that they’re having if they decided to deploy their own team that maybe, you know, dangers ahead and maybe we should be kind of getting some help here? Like what are some of the things that they run into where they’re like, okay, this is going to get this is harder than I thought.
Nick Marcarelli: [00:02:41] There’s a there’s a few there’s a few symptoms that are most common. We found that, you know, someone will come in, leadership will come in on the technology side and say, this is where we’re going. And then what if that leadership changes halfway through that transformation? Or maybe it doesn’t really get off the ground or maybe it does. And there’s a staff challenge where, you know, people go to a new company. So keeping the right people, the, you know, the people that have those skills in place, that’s a big challenge in the marketplace. Tech is very competitive. But also sometimes we we set out to do something and then we have to go a different direction. And I think that’s that’s where we end up. Meeting customers in the marketplace is we set off to do this, we built this thing and now that leadership is gone or we’ve lost the staff to support it, we don’t know which way to go. So like we really try to bridge the gap there to go, let’s get you, you know, a right sized vision for what you can do. Let’s assess the areas, the gaps that we can try to upskill around and then let’s set you up for success.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:45] Now, how do you help your clients kind of avoid that shiny object syndrome where they heard or read a blog post or a or a podcast about some new technology and they’re like, Oh, that’s the solution. You know, it sounds good. They’re I’m all in. And then they want to, you know, go down this rabbit hole where a lot of times those things end up poorly. How do you kind of manage the expectations and help your clients, you know, in that manner?
Nick Marcarelli: [00:04:17] There a lot of noise? I would call it in tech, where you have, you know, all these companies, these, you know, software vendors that are building offerings for customers and they’re all competing against each other. So everyone’s representing their solution as the end all to all problems. And it’s our job to help educate customers on not falling for that trap. And this is so prevalent in just tech, not lots of industries, but in technology specifically because everyone wants to be first. They want to be doing the new innovative thing? Well, sometimes the new innovative thing is not it’s not ready for prime time. So we spend a lot of time. Assessing the maturity of those solutions in the market, making recommendations based off our experiences and really clarifying and identifying those core concepts and technology. We’re we’re very focused around terminology, buzzwords, you know, kind of buzzword. Bingo is what we call it in the industry. And one of the big challenges around that is a customer may go, Oh, I really want this buzzword. Ai is a good one right now. I think everybody on earth is exposed to that, you know, artificial intelligence. And we have programs that are going to replace jobs and do all the thinking for us. None of that is true at this point. It’s just the new shiny thing that we’re all kind of obsessing about that’s been happening in tech for about 4 or 5 years. It’s just kind of become a consumerism thing because ChatGPT at this point.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:00] Yeah, it’s funny that I mean, people have been talking to Siri and their Amazon Echo for years now and not connecting the dots that that was a form of I.
Nick Marcarelli: [00:06:13] Absolutely. Yeah. The whole natural language processing thing is not new. It’s been around for. You know, in principle ten years. And it’s embedded in the kind of the way that we exist as people for for good or for worse. But yeah, AI is not new. It’s just it’s becoming. A relatively powerful construct in technology now, but it’s the journey is really just started.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:43] Well, getting back to how you serve your clients. You mentioned a lot of times you start with a project. What are those kind of initial first projects typically for your client? Like what’s that initial pain that one of your clients says, You know what, help us with this, this, this. We’re having a hard time here. And then maybe over time your value becomes evident and it evolves into larger and larger work.
Nick Marcarelli: [00:07:08] Usually it starts with a customer. As you just explain goes, I need help. I need I need a path. Please, please help us God. So what we typically start out with is an assessment, because usually, especially with the technology side of the house, there’s not a lot of documentation. Um, a lot of that institutional knowledge maybe is left the organization. So we have to go in and we have to go. What do you have? And then we measure that against what we would you know, we would say our best practices around a certain project. So in a world where we’re focused on Kubernetes. You know, that usually starts with we have these eight frameworks that we operate from and we go through and we assess with the customer, okay, against this framework of architecture, you know, do you have the required components to have a sound architecture? Do you have the right components for security? Do you have the right components for disaster recovery and backup? You know, if that ever came into play. These are core technology concepts, but it’s a little hard to see all the things you need to do when you’re living in the fire. So we go in there and we assess and then we build a roadmap usually over 12 months, and we help rate. These are high risk items that would be low effort that’ll that’ll mitigate that risk that you have today. And we’ll build a plan to address those things, whether it’s through adding of services or redeployment of infrastructure and applications. We may decide that a certain application needs to be completely refactored because it doesn’t fit the needs of the platform and the end customer. So all of those things kind of get drawn down into what we would call the assessment part, which for us, you know, usually ranges between 2 to 4 weeks and it’s immersive and it’s a collaborative thing, but we’re using our experience in the marketplace to guide customers towards best practices.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:10] How do you or do you have a way to kind of. Keep your talent pipeline filled.
Nick Marcarelli: [00:09:21] It’s a great question. Everybody struggles with it. So. So do we. So what we’ve found is we like to take smart people and help build them. So because we’re a consultancy, it’s it’s not just about having a person in seat to fill a role. Customers are leaning on us to be experts. So we have a very focused view on training and upskilling because that has to translate to our customers. So we’re always looking for, you know, the right type of. You know, related individuals, you know, that have a background in that and then adding in the tooling and the experiences so that they can go apply that for customers for their benefit. So, you know, just like anywhere we’re we’re finding raw talent, we’re training them, we’re guiding them, we’re bringing them along. And, you know, we’re always learning there’s not a person on our team that is not spending time learning new things, new concepts, new products, because the world is innovating at a speed that’s hard to keep up with. So we stay very focused on our lane around Kubernetes and automation work and the open source world. So we stay focused on that. And then we we attempt to learn and apply as much as we can.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:41] But you’ve also built an academy and offer courses to help upskill folks.
Nick Marcarelli: [00:10:46] That’s correct. And that’s something we’ve been doing specifically around Kubernetes, because though Kubernetes has been around for, you know, 7 or 8 years and. In principle, the adoption of it in commercial industry is really happening right now and it’s complicated. And it also is a shift away from the way. The business has been managed previously. So there’s some similar parallels. Right. You go, okay, well this is basically a virtual data center, but it’s not a virtual machine. So there’s some some differences in approach and the way you develop software and the way you sustain that infrastructure. So we built this academy to help give customers some education on understanding the differences in the way that we run. Infrastructure and applications in the old way. And what this new way is really built for. And not everything is a great fit for the new way. So it’s a big part of helping customers and helping other technologists that maybe are interested to understand those differences. And then we continually add the more technical concepts. So we’re focusing on the business technology concepts and adding the technology, you know, hands on concepts along the way with our Academy.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:11] So how has the Atlanta technology ecosystem impacted your business?
Nick Marcarelli: [00:12:18] Well, Atlanta is a great innovation for technology. It’s a hub for it. There’s lots of great companies in Atlanta. We’re really the. You know, we’re the commerce of the Southeast, right? Everything kind of comes through here. So we may have, you know, large banking and finance financial institutions, but they’re they look like technology companies. Right? Everybody’s everyone’s a software company. So for us, it’s been great. It’s created a tremendous amount of opportunity locally. And there’s a lot of great talent in Atlanta. So while everyone thinks of technology innovation, they probably think of Silicon Valley. There’s these hotspots, especially in the Southeast, but definitely in Atlanta where. The companies that are headquartered here have huge technology requirements, which means we have a great concentration of excellent software engineering here. So we we find that great. We you know, Atlanta is very collaborative, which I don’t think you can say about every portion of the country. So we’re happy to be here and helping out, you know, local companies that are focused on innovating.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:25] And what is that ideal fit customer for you right now?
Nick Marcarelli: [00:13:29] Generally, you know, we would say. It’s more about what they want to do, but our customer base tends to look like. Upper mid market. So, you know, that’s kind of a generic term, so I’ll be more specific. Um, you know, $1 billion in revenue up is usually a great fit because of the technologies. They require sophistication and they require people and they require some budget. But what’s really cool is that a lot of these newer companies that may be, you know, born in the cloud going about it a different way, maybe they’re software companies. They’re they’re using the same technologies that we’re working with, you know, in a Fortune 500. So it gives us a wide range. So we’ve actually, in the last few years been helping out a lot of companies that would be much smaller, even small medium business, but highly sophisticated from a technology perspective. So for us, a customer that’s, you know, using Kubernetes as a platform to deliver their services, great fit for us, um, high velocity verticals. So think transportation, manufacturing, fintech, great fit for us retail because of all the data that is processed and collected. So that high velocity kind of vertical is a great fit for us to come in and be helpful in their journey.
Lee Kantor: [00:14:51] And if they’re interested in engaging with you, they can go to the website and then there’s ways to, you know, if they’re looking for help with talent, they can they can kind of take a course there or if they want to get an assessment, is that all available on the website?
Nick Marcarelli: [00:15:09] Yeah, So they can definitely come to our website and it’ll see, you’ll see our the way we go to market for customers and the types of things that we like to help with. So we have a whole center of excellence around Kubernetes. Um, we have our academy as we spoke about previously, where they could sign up and they could consume some of the later, you know, technology trends related to Kubernetes. And yeah, you can reach out and we can, you know, talk through what a project looks like and what that assessment looks like, or if you know what you want to do already, we can help scope that out and provide you a project plan for how we could how we could engage.
Lee Kantor: [00:15:47] And what’s the coordinates? What’s the website?
Nick Marcarelli: [00:15:51] Uh, shadow Softcom Shadow. Soft with a hyphen in between.
Lee Kantor: [00:15:56] Shadow hyphen. Soft.com. There you go. All right, Nick. Well, thank you so much for sharing your story. You’re doing important work and we appreciate you.
Nick Marcarelli: [00:16:04] Thanks for the time.
Lee Kantor: [00:16:05] Appreciate it. All right. This is Lee Kantor. We’ll see you all next time on Atlanta Business Radio.
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