by John Filippis, Strategic Engagement Manager, Quorum It is a Thursday night, the 30th of March 2017 and its 6:00pm.The bustle of the daily afternoon city exodus ritual fills the streets with mayhem and that too familiar disorderly chaos, as people rush to get away. The roads are full of cars ringing their horns like a spoiled princess ringing for her deaf butler. Our much-lamented bus services are languishing in the “express” lane, which is looking more like a bus parking bay with each succesive year and of course the train stations are unceremoniously packed like an Olympic stadium during the opening ceremony.By all measures this is just another ordinary day in Sydney’s cosmopolitan metropolis. This theatre is played out amongst a backdrop of a city, that seems to have its infrastructure constantly ripped open like a wound by the knife of building and construction.To add insult to injury, the weather gods have conspired against all Sydneysiders on this fine evening and have opened up the heavens to a deluge not seen since the great flood.

With the city scene reading like a lachrymose children’s story, I find myself on a street corner, soaked to a pulp with an umbrella in hand waiting for the green man to instruct me to cross the road. Standing next to me are three finely dressed young ladies (also soaked to a pulp and without an umbrella) who begin a distressing conversation that I happen to overhear:

“Which way is the Ivy ?” asked one

“I don’t know, I think it is this way??” said the other

“Oh my god, I can’t believe my hair is terrible and I am going to the Ivy!” said the third

Normally this type of juvenile conversation goes completely unnoticed to me as nothing more than meaningless background banter, against the noise of a big city.

But tonight is different.

And it is not just different because the internationally renowned string theorist Brian Greene, was visiting our fine city to enlighten us on the latest developments in the field of string theory; that holy grail of universal understanding that rationalises the worlds of quantum mechanics and general relativity.

No, it is different because there is something happening in Sydney this evening that provided the framework for me to indulge in frivolous conversation with my new-found friends on this rather wet street corner.

“Hi girls, I am going to the Ivy tonight and I can take you there with my umbrella, it will save your hair and shoes” I said with a smile.

Six eyes set upon me in the same way that the ancient Greeks looked upon the oracle of Delphi, in wonder and amazement. I had obviously delivered something profound for them in that sentence, because they paused liked a break in satellite communications in the 70’s, to process what I had just said:

“(Pause)…Wow that would be amazing!” they all said in concert with youthful excitement.

So my new freinds and I all meandered through Sydney’s streaming streets of water under my umbrella, until we arrived at the entrance of the coveted Ivy nightclub.

After safely delivering the young ladies to the Ivy nightclub’s security crew I bid them farewell and wished them a great evening, they thanked me for my good deed with synchronised and histerically happy smiles and waves….”Thank you!”, as they serached their handbags for their ID.

Ahh the good old days when you used to get stopped for ID at nightclubs…!

My agenda for the visit to the Ivy (apart from rescuing some damsels in distress with some old fashioned chivalry) was to be present at the official launch of the Cloud Collective at the Ivy Penthouse.

I could think of no better way to escape the dreary weather and the afternoon rush than to spend an evening with some of Australia’s key IT vendors, partners and business leaders.

The Cloud Collective has been making itself officially known to the industry as of late, but tonight was the night to kick it off properly and with a bang. Part of the formal proceedings for the night, was a panel discussion that consisted of the following people:

Holly Dean – Partner Sales Executive for the Cloud Collective, Microsoft

Mark McLean –  Managing Director, Quorum

Justin Morris – Country Manager, Australia / VP APAC Modality Systems

Aaron Cunnington – Director, Antares Solutions

John Hennessy – Director, Corporate Accounts, Microsoft Australia

Claudia Macintosh – Director, Partner Sales, Microsoft Australia

Rodd Jefferson – General Manager, Cloud & Data Centre Solution Sales NSW, Telstra


Holly Dean from Microsoft chairs the Cloud Collective, Microsoft and Telstra panel



Holly Dean was the chairperson for this evening and she  eloquently introduced the Cloud Collective as a unique partnership of three Microsoft Gold partners, that provide complimentary skillsets to the market as a single offering. The panel interrogation started off with the ever effervescent Holly, delivering the following questions to the Cloud Collective team:

HD: Mark, how did the Cloud Collective come about?

MM: The CC isn’t something we’ve dreamed up overnight……all three organisations have been working together for around three years in a more informal and reactive manner. Essentially, this was due to the midmarket demanding broader and more sophisticated capabilities across the entire Microsoft stack that we couldn’t effectively cater to individually.

Additionally, we identified a recurring theme mid-market where they really wanted to deal with a single ‘go to partner’ reducing complexity and overhead they have traditionally been burdened with dealing with any number of point providers.

Over time the partnerships became increasingly relevant as the technology landscape continued to expand rapidly which made specialisation almost become mandatory.

There are several well-known ways to enable your business to expand its capabilities and address new markets, you can build the capability, buy it or partner with experts who have already built what you are aspiring to; and we naturally chose that later and formalised the partnership as ‘The Cloud Collective”.

Last but certainly not least, apart from having a fantastic fit in relation to non-overlapping capabilities across each organisation, the partnership would have never worked without a strong cultural alignment across all three companies. We truly love working together and we hope this comes across in our work and our client’s experiences.

HD: Justin, why does the Cloud Collective work?

JM: One of my former colleagues recently dubbed the Cloud Collective as the “Justice League” from DC Comics and I think that metaphor works really well. Each member has their own specific strengths and powers individually, but when they come together the combined force and value has overwhelming benefit for everyone involved inside and out.

It also comes down to two key factors – speed and culture. There’s implicit trust, confidence and customer centric thinking across the collective at all levels that eliminates red tape and allows us to mobilise quickly to respond to customer needs in a very collaborative and professional way.

HD: Aaron, given the diverse range of technology solutions now available, how important is specialisation for partners?

AC: If I look back only a couple of years from now, we were building applications that sat behind a corporate firewall on known hardware that had a controlled operating environment. That really allows us to be really good at developing applications and getting by with a decent understanding of the supporting technology.

Today, I look at the solutions we provide and the complexity of the problems we can solve, and the technology and services available for us to do this, Office 365, Dynamics 365, Azure, Web Apps, Bot Services, Cortana for speak and Analytics etc, couple that with the expectation that I should be able to access these apps on any device form any location and the complexity of what I need to do has increased drastically. I can no longer get by with being a great developer and just being OK with everything that supports this.

If I think about how I use technology and the apps that I use, at work I am using my laptop, when I am out of the office I use my mobile, when I am home I use my iPad. So now, for one person to use my app I need to consider security of working outside a corporate firewall, identity management, device management… and the list goes on.

We realized a while ago that for us to make our apps shine, we need to focus on what we do well, and then we need to partner with people who do the things that we don’t do, and let them focus on what they do well.

As Mark said, you can no longer be a Jack of all trades, you must specialize to provide the best value you can.

There were some very interesting insights from Claudia McIntosh who spoke of her recent trip to Amsterdam to speak to the partners there. She spoke to the European delegation about the Cloud Collective and how it works in practice. Claudia spoke of the great interest that came from that presentation and the partners were keen to know more about how the initiative was structured and whether it was Microsoft or self invoked initiative.

 Rodd Jefferson from Telstra spoke to the fact that Telstra is now looking for key partners that can assist it in delivering digital transformation to its ever-growing client base. Rodd said that Telstra needs partners like the Cloud Collective that can make “complex things seem simple”.

John Hennesy from Microsoft walked us through the recent invigoration and transformation that Satya Nadella has brought to Microsoft and how this is changing the shape of how they deal with their customers. He also spoke to the fact that Microsoft now needs partners that understand the landscape of digital transformation and can work alongside it to deliver value to its customers.

As a closing note Holly Dean said “The coming together of these three entities will enable better business outcomes for our customers and support our joint goal of driving business transformation in market.”

Holly thanked the panel for their participation and with the formal proceedings done and dusted the venue was opened up for the socialising to begin. On this treacherous, bustling, rain filled Thursday night, filled with friends both new and old …it was just the best place to be.

I will let the pictures tell the rest of the story…Enjoy!

The Cloud Collective would like to extend its massive thanks to all its partners and customers who took the time out to get soaked by Sydney’s torrential rain to attend the event! Thank You!