May 10, 2016 –
MSPMentorA growing tide of public sector outsourcing is opening new doors for managed service providers (MSPs) with the expertise and resources to navigate the lengthy and often-Byzantine process for securing government contracts.

Where a private sector MSP deal is often closed after a couple of meetings and a five-page proposal, public sector contracts are commonly a year or more in the making, requiring numerous visits to the prospective clients, competitive bidding and customer proposals that routinely exceed 60 pages.

Winning public sector business, however, can mean the start of lucrative relationships, with rich opportunities to upsell and contract terms that commonly span three to five years, compared to the annual contracts typically seen in the private sector.

“Like any MSP, it’s about the recurring revenue,” said Gary Nichols, CEO of Atlanta, Ga.-based InterDev, where about 65 percent of staff is exclusively dedicated to the government services division. “We just found a really good fit between the government outsourcing, matched up against the services that we provide.”

The effort for more openness in public sector IT markets has become important enough to warrant its own cottage industry.

Today and Wednesday, media and education firm e.Republic is hosting the Arizona Digital Government Summit in Phoenix, the latest of numerous similar events aimed at increasing technological best practices and innovation in the public sector.

Sponsors include names like IBM, Cisco, AT&T and SAP.

“With nearly 200 employees in California, Washington, D.C., and throughout the United States, e.Republic is a unique company redefining the role of media at the intersection of innovation and public service,” the group’s website says.

More than 150 such e.Republic events are held across the country each year, bringing together officials from all levels of government, IT experts and a wide range of other technology professionals in an effort to identify and eliminate barriers to digitization.

While those efforts offer promise, MSP’s like InterDev are creating their own momentum to carve out shares of the public sector IT market.

An Emerging MSP Vertical

In many ways, InterDev’s story is not unfamiliar in the realm of MSPs.

For most of the past 36 years, the firm made a brisk business as a break/fix provider and reseller of Barracuda hardware.

Much of that work involved government clients and, as margins began to shrink during last decade, InterDev placed a greater emphasis on generating revenue from professional services.

A watershed occurred around 2010, when several affluent, suburban Georgia communities split from their local county and incorporated as cities under the public-private partnership (PPP) model.

Under the PPP municipal structure, governments are reduced to the bare minimum and only the most critical of functions – like public safety – hire full-time public employees.

All other functions required to keep a city operating, including IT, are outsourced to private firms.

InterDev won the contract to serve as the outsourced IT arm of Sandy Springs, Ga., and a year later, in 2011, struck a similar arrangement with the nearby city of Dunwoody.

Since then, the nearby town of Brookhaven, another PPP government, also signed on with InterDev.

Under the deals, InterDev acts as the IT department for the cities, managing network components and security, and providing strategic guidance to government leaders on IT initiatives.

InterDev has employees specifically assigned to each community and segregates them in the company’s network operations center to enhance the sense of connection with the communities they serve.

Because of exposure to sensitive law enforcement information, every InterDev employee that works in the municipal operation must undergo the same in-depth FBI criminal background check required of sworn police officers.

A key advantage of the contract is that the upper-income cities weren’t looking for the lowest-cost MSP. Instead, the well-heeled communities are willing to pay a premium price for a premium level of service.

“In the public-private partnership model, it’s not acceptable to have a citizen wait six months for a request,” Nichols said. “The customer service expectations are different.”

Marketing for Growth

Word of InterDev’s work in Georgia was reported in a municipal government trade publication and ultimately caught the attention of officials from a group of 13 cities outside Chicago, Ill., which were considering forming an IT consortium and hiring an MSP to serve their shared-services model.

The cities invited InterDev to respond to a request for information and were sufficiently impressed by the MSPs plan that they sent a team of officials to Georgia for an up-close look at how the outsourced IT agreement was working.

Five of the cities agreed to join the consortium and InterDev was selected to provide IT services.

Under the deal, InterDev has dedicated staff based in the two largest towns, and dispatches them as needed to the other three cities.

Today, roughly halfway through a five-year contract, two other nearby cities, which are not part of the consortium, have signed managed services contracts with InterDev.

Meanwhile, the member cities are actively recruiting other towns to join the consortium and InterDev’s government services division is playing a key role.

“We are effectively building the marketing for the consortium,” Nichols said. “It’s simply in our best interest.”

Word of InterDev’s municipal services business is also spreading elsewhere.

Three weeks ago, the company announced it had won a competitive bidding process and secured a contract to provide managed services to the city of Beaufort, S.C.

Under the agreement, InterDev provides 24/7 monitoring and maintenance of servers, networks, employee workstations, backup systems and hosted applications.

The MSP also serves as the liaison between the city and other technology providers, like the telecommunications vendor, and educates city officials about technology solutions in use at other municipalities, providing strategic guidance to help Beaufort modernize its IT environment.

With each new engagement, InterDev becomes more effective at selling new governments on the concept of outsourced IT, according to the CEO.

“Marketing is a critical component of growth and it’s where I think a lot of MSPs fall behind,” Nichols said.

Regulatory Challenges

To provide managed services in the public sector however, an MSP has to develop the operational proficiency to maneuver through red tape and a variety of local political landscapes and machinations.

“How we work to be the winning vendor in this process is by having specialists,” Nichols said.

Successful MSPs must develop or acquire staff with expertise in the intricacies of the state, local and education market (SLED).

Those employees spend a great deal of time on the road, developing relationships with officials from prospective client governments and coordinating the numerous submissions required to sustain an MSP’s candidacy in the bureaucratic public bidding and contracting process.

International solutions provider Logicalis has been growing a SLED business for more than seven years.

Allison West Hughes is a regional vice president in charge of sales, and the executive responsible for managing Logicalis’ efforts to win public contracts in the western U.S.

She joined Logicalis last September, after stints working in public accounts at VMware and Cisco.

Landing public business requires MSPs to have a deep understanding of the arcane contracting practices of various governments.

In many cases, public agencies are bound by legacy contracts and procurement rules that prevent their officials from just calling up a qualified vendor and resolving obvious IT issues.

“It would be ideal if there were better routes to market,” West Hughes said.

Instead, mandatory processes involving requests for proposals, requests for quotations, public bidding and negotiations often take six months, to more than a year for even the simplest IT purchases or engagements.

Some governments, for instance, still maintain separate voice and network services/data contracts.

The pre-VoIP agreements require separate bidding.

“You could have to buy your Ethernet switch from one entity and buy the phone from another,” West Hughes said.

Even winning the competitive bidding process doesn’t mark the finish line.

One recent IT contract for the City of Phoenix has been bid and awarded, twice, then pulled off the table both times before the deals could be signed.

In the first instance, the bid was awarded and the political leaders failed to fund it. A second contract award was canceled in recent weeks and a reason was not immediately given.

“Winning the bid is the right to enter contract negotiations,” West Hughes said. “There’s no guarantee the contract negotiations are going to turn out to be fruitful.”

As in the private sector, however, there are signs that the growing wave of global digitization is increasingly reaching local governments.

More and more, public officials are warming to the idea of outsourcing IT and acting to reduce obsolete practices and regulations.

West Hughes will be among those at this week’s e.Republic gathering in Arizona, working for changes that lead to more open public sector markets for MSPs.

“Certainly it’s a key vertical focus for Logicalis, along with healthcare,” she said. “We’re going to be growing and expanding our SLED.”

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As CEO of InterDev, Gary Nichols leads a firm of over 75 professionals, working from Atlanta and Chicago offices, who serve a variety of clients throughout the Southeast and Midwest. Nichols is responsible for managing the company’s direction and overall operations. He also spearheads InterDev’s initiatives in outsourced Managed IT and communications, overseeing its professional services and support to government, education, business and non-profit organizations across the US.

As the founder of InterDev in 1980, Gary was an early adopter of innovative technologies ranging from the first personal computer to artificial intelligence. His personal mantra of “find a way” inspired the innovative Government IT Consortium, a shared-service outsourcing model in use in the Chicago area. Gary’s leadership led to the formation of successful public-private partnerships (PPP) with the City of Sandy Springs, the City of Brookhaven, the City of Dunwoody, and other municipalities in Georgia.

Since 1980, the InterDev team has accumulated multiple industry awards, including Atlanta Business Chronicle Pacesetter, Appen Media Best of North Atlanta, and Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Private Companies in America (three-time honoree) – all under Gary’s leadership.

Gary earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from Georgia State University and is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). He is currently working on a Master’s Degree in Cybersecurity at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Gary has served on the Advisory Board of the National Technology Security Coalition and volunteers with TAG-Ed,, and Habitat for Humanity.

With his extensive expertise in information technology and systems security, and strong professional training in IT solutions ranging from data centers and cloud computing to networking, Daniel Schultheiss is the cornerstone of InterDev’s IT practice. He provides high-level analysis of the IT infrastructure of organizations – from corporations to municipalities – and offers recommendations on how they can achieve their goals.

During his tenure at InterDev, Daniel has played a key role in InterDev’s growth, as the firm expanded its expertise to embrace emerging technology and security disciplines that have now become mission critical to firms of all sizes. One of his most significant achievements was helping to develop and implement InterDev’s Managed Services platform in 2006 – his first year with the firm. He also served as IT Manager for the City of Sandy Springs from 2011-2013, and helped InterDev launch its Government Services division in 2014.

Daniel holds a CISSP certification and is a Certified Ethical Hacker. He is also a member of the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG). Daniel graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering.

Neil Matchan leads InterDev’s technology programs, using his expertise and vision to help InterDev identify and seize technology opportunities for its clients while they are still in the innovation phase. Matchan was instrumental in developing, managing and growing InterDev’s Managed Services program, one of its core offerings.

Neil joined InterDev in 1998 as a Senior Systems Engineer, putting his strong technology acumen to work on the firm’s behalf. In 2006, he was promoted to the position of Director of IT Services, overseeing InterDev’s Technology Department and all related projects and client interactions. In 2014 he was promoted to CTO, a role that more clearly represents the contributions he makes to InterDev to this day.

Prior to joining InterDev, Neil worked in corporate sales for CompUSA, where he was named a Top 30 performer in the nation and was the #1 Account Executive at his location from 1995-1998.

Neil holds certifications from Dell, Barracuda Networks (Spam, Message Archiver, Load Balancer, and Web Filter), VMware, and Ruckus Wireless as well as for most major corporate software and hardware manufacturers. In 2009, he became the first person to be certified as a Next Generation Engineer through Barracuda’s firewall specialist program. Neil studied Industrial Psychology at Georgia State University and is a graduate of the Network Administrator Specialist program at Oglethorpe University.

As Chief Government Information Officer, Ashley Smith provides vision and leadership for developing and implementing information technology initiatives for InterDev’s Government Services division. He also acts as the Virtual Chief Information Officer (vCIO) for more than 20 of InterDev’s client municipalities, providing short- and long-term strategic IT planning for their environments.

With an extensive background working in the information technology and services industry, Ashley’s insight and planning have helped position InterDev’s municipal clients as leaders in the government sector, and he and his team continue to help these clients set the bar for exceptional municipal services.

Even before joining InterDev, Ashley was a seasoned government IT professional at both the state and local levels. He previously served as the IT and Communications Manager for the City of Hapeville, Georgia and as the IT Manager for the Hapeville Wi-Fi Network, part of the Wireless Community Georgia Grant program sponsored by the Georgia Technology Authority.

A frequent presenter at the Georgia Municipal Association’s Annual Conference and the Annual Mayors’ Day conference, Ashley has taught classes on best practices in government IT and on using technology to improve government operations. He holds a Master of Public Administration from Georgia Southern University and is a certified Government CIO (CGCIO) and a Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA). He is also certified in Network + and GCIC Data Integrity, and has completed courses in Recovery Training and Project Management from the Department of Homeland Security.

As InterDev’s Director of Operations, Mike Edelson oversees a consortium of local government GIS Managers throughout the Atlanta metropolitan area and manages InterDev’s MosaicGIS cloud-based solution and Location Intelligence Labs. With more than a decade of experience in Geospatial and GIS technologies, Mike has strong expertise in GIS enterprise database design and management, GPS collection and processing, and SDSFIE & FGDC metadata standards.

Mike joined InterDev in 2013 as a GIS Analyst for the City of Brookhaven, Georgia as part of InterDev’s public-private partnership with the city. After building the Brookhaven GIS department, he became instrumental in shaping InterDev’s GIS program and services for dozens of cities. His recent promotion to Director of Operations solidifies his commitment to leading the company to the next level of sales and service.

Prior to joining InterDev, Mike worked as a Project Manager at CH2M Hill, a global engineering firm. Working for the military, Edelson provided GIS Military Master Planning services to more than a dozen US military installations throughout Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar. He also performed field work after Hurricane Katrina.

During his career, Mike has received numerous awards, including URISA, a nonprofit professional organization that awarded Mike and his team the prestigious Exemplary Systems in Government Award in 2014 and 2016. Since 2012, he has volunteered as a Judge for the National Engineering Week Future City Competition. Mike holds a bachelor’s degree in Geography and Environmental Science from Florida State University and is a graduate of the Leadership DeKalb Academy.

Lewis Wilkinson, Sr. heads InterDev’s Project Management Office, where he and his team work closely with government, commercial, and vendor principals to ensure the success of project work and the satisfaction of all parties. With a deep understanding of the complex interactions of software and technology deployments – and how they impact business processes – Lewis provides the structure, guidance, and communications to promote optimal results for InterDev clients. Projects Lewis successfully manages involve enterprise-wide ERP software, security and risk management assessments, technology infrastructure upgrades, and Managed Services deployments.

Since joining InterDev in 2011, Lewis has helped to build InterDev’s Project Management Office. He has also worked extensively with BS&A, Tyler Munis, Tyler Incode, New World Systems, CIS CSC security framework, and the ESRI GIS software suite, helping InterDev and its clients reap these platforms’ benefits.

Lewis is a certified Project Manager (PMP) as recognized by the Project Management Institute and an Agile Certified Scrum Manager (CSM). He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Computer Science from Wake Forest University.

With a mission to provide, establish, and deploy the best security practices for InterDev and its clients, Jesse Cail leads InterDev’s Security team with the dedication to excellence he has shown in every facet of his life. As an information security professional with a broad spectrum of expertise ranging from cybersecurity and communications to windows and server administration, Jesse is laser focused on systems security and information assurance for InterDev clients.

Jesse joined the InterDev team in 2012 and almost immediately leveraged his experience and strong domain administration skills to build a security program from the ground up for the City of Sandy Springs. This program would later serve as the model program for all of InterDev’s clients.

A retired U.S. Army veteran with unique experiences in Special Operations, Jesse served and deployed with both 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) and 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne). He was also selected for a special six-year assignment to the White House Communications Agency, served as a member of the White House Situation Support Staff, and directly supported the White House Situation Room and National Security Council.

Jesse holds a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Management from the University of Maryland. He is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), a GIAC Certified Critical Controls Implementation/Auditor, and a certified GIAC Security Essentials practitioner (GSEC).

Jennifer Braithwaite, InterDev’s Business Development Manager, leads her team by developing key relationships throughout the Southeast region in collaboration with the Government team at InterDev. Her talent and ability for building business relationships enables her to connect naturally with InterDev clients and prospects, making her a highly valued team member. Always focused on company achievement, Jennifer challenges the team to identify potential opportunities and helps them develop and execute the strategies that will bring them – and InterDev – success.

After joining InterDev in 2012 as a Sales and Marketing Assistant, Jennifer has logged an impressive track record. In 2014, Jennifer began selling for InterDev full time, landing several major accounts. In 2015, she was promoted to Business Development Associate after more than doubling her sales by securing over $2 million in revenue. Jennifer was also instrumental in helping InterDev land engagements with the City of Beaufort, South Carolina, and the cities of Canton, Chamblee, Douglasville, Fairburn, South Fulton, and Stonecrest, Georgia. In 2017, she was named to the InterDev $5 Million Dollar Club for another year of record-setting sales.

Prior to joining InterDev, Jennifer held a series of progressively responsible administrative positions, gaining operational insight that informed her work helping municipalities recognize the value in robust IT structures. She is a member of the Georgia City-County Management Association, the South Carolina City-County Management Association, the Texas City Management Association, the Florida City-County Management Association, Government Management Information Sciences, and the Georgia Municipal Association. She has also been named to the InterDev $5 Million Dollar Club for record-setting sales.

As IT Manager of InterDev’s Midwest region, Nino Spuria is a high-performance IT leader focused on building, growing, and managing InterDev’s advanced IT service structure. His strong technology background, combined with strategic leadership and business acumen, gives him the ability to meet or exceed service excellence goals while also increasing revenue and client satisfaction.

Prior to joining InterDev, Nino built a remarkable legacy of technology-focused project management and execution, especially in the public sector. As VP of Service Delivery at SDI, he was instrumental in the City of Chicago Mayor’s public initiative to install 1500+ cameras in more than 70 rail stations within six months to increase public safety and security.

A recipient of more than 15 awards for performance/delivery excellence from IBM, marchFIRST Inc, and SDI Solutions, Nino is ITIL certified and holds a Bachelor of Science in Statistics from McMaster University.

As IT Services Manager, Rosie Caldon leads a highly skilled and specialized team of engineers and customer care staff dedicated to providing professional technical support for all IT and VoIP products and service offering. Their dedication to maintaining the human element in technical support through personable, live-answer service promotes InterDev’s positive customer experience.

Rosie Caldon joined InterDev’s Voices Services Team in 2016 where she quickly expanded the company’s client base to more than 300 Commercial and Government VoIP clients and has subsequently been a key contributor to the success of onboarding enterprise VoIP clients.

Caldon’s career expands more than 10 years in the Telecom and IT industries in roles ranging from customer support to installations, project management, training, and leadership roles in complex and diverse technical environments.

Rosie studied Sociology at the University of Georgia and maintains her industry expertise through attainment of partner certifications with such innovative leading providers as Avaya, Jive, Digium, Fuze and Fortinet.

Jeff Colonna joined InterDev in 2019 in the role of Corporate Controller. In this position, he is responsible for the leadership of all accounting and finance functions. Since joining the firm, he has successfully transformed many of the financial processes of the company by incorporating new technologies that promote efficiency.

Colonna began his career with the international accounting firm Deloitte, where he specialized in auditing publicly traded technology companies. He later moved to the corporate accounting sector where he held several controller and director-level roles with small and large technology companies.

Colonna earned a Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the University of Connecticut and is currently a licensed CPA in the state of Georgia.

Randi Russell is the Human Resources and Recruiting Manager for InterDev, a role she assumed when she joined the company in 2018. In this position, she is responsible for all human resource functions from onboarding to professional development and exit planning as well new hire recruiting.

Prior to joining InterDev, Russell worked for a large retailer where she gained experience in warehouse, distribution, inventory control, risk management and human resources. Among her other professional accomplishments she counts the successful establishment and operation of a food distribution company that she grew to $8MM in annual revenue over nine years as well as an extended tenure working in the commercial furniture industry where she attained increasing levels of responsibility in business operations, commercial services and human resources.

Russell studied Liberal Arts and Computer Science at DeKalb Community College in Clarkston, Georgia, and earned her certification as a SHRM-CP in 2018.