Since joining AHEAD in February of this year, I have been super impressed with the people, culture, and resources available at my fingertips (I’m not the only one; check out a post from AHEAD’s Pete Robertson about his first thirty days at the company!). One of the most beneficial resources that AHEAD offers is the AHEAD Lab and Briefing Center. This is where customers come to access our industry experts and next-generation solutions to determine the optimal strategy for their organizations.
In the AHEAD Lab, we often reference AHEAD Aviation: the factitious company created by AHEAD that helps us take customers (and prospective customers) through the journey of strategizing, designing, and deploying end-to-end services for their enterprise. In the AHEAD Aviation environment, we are able to thoroughly demonstrate the full capabilities of products and multi-vendor solutions to these individuals (via a fully integrated cloud stack), including AHEAD’s own Cloud Delivery Platform.
By leveraging the Lab and Briefing Center, paired with AHEAD Aviation, we are able to provide custom, personalized solutions unique to our clients’ needs.
What Makes the Lab a Great Resource?
IT companies have labs in-house that they use for various reasons. Typically, they are primarily used for training and testing new equipment when it is released. While we do use the AHEAD Lab for this exact reason, our engineering teams also use it for much more.
The first use case we focus on is technology evaluation for onboarding and inclusion for AHEAD product sales and solution development.
At AHEAD, we are constantly testing and evaluating new products and features released by both partners and aspiring manufacturers (existing and startup) who ask AHEAD to sponsor and bring their products to market. This lets us truly test and understand what options are available in the marketplace to offer our customers. An important point to recognize is that we test all kinds of software and hardware. We do this to understand how each works and to make partnering decisions easier. With hands-on experience with these products, we can work with our customers to develop strategies and infrastructure roadmaps that include options that we have vetted and tested ourselves; we don’t just take the manufacturers’ word for the capabilities of their products.
For example, here is a list of some of the products we have been evaluating lately. You will notice the list includes not only startups, but also established companies.
In all cases, AHEAD has developed a proprietary technology onboarding and evaluation/selection process to follow to ensure consistent and well-documented testing and decision making when it comes to products in the AHEAD Lab. When our clients and prospects want to learn about products coming to market, we can share knowledge learned based on our library of recorded evaluation documentation.
How You Can Make Use of the AHEAD Lab
The biggest reason we continue to invest in the AHEAD Lab is for our clients and prospects. We are often asked to help organizations evaluate, test, and integrate new products. Many of these are pre-existing in our lab, but often times, they are new, market-emerging products. These organizations do not have the time or data center space to perform these functions themselves and that is where AHEAD can help.
In addition to evaluating and testing products, we also perform in-depth proof of concepts (POCs). By leveraging the resources in the Lab, customers are able to test new products with their custom workloads. This can go far beyond just kicking the tires on a new piece of equipment. We look at how products integrate and how you operationalize them. Out of this comes a much deeper understanding of what you are gaining, as well as how you can best integrate this into your existing environment without disrupting your normal operations.
We continually rotate new technologies through the Lab for testing for ourselves as well as for our clients (as outlined above) with critical POC and evaluation demands.
It’s All About Integration
If a product passes our technical muster, it is proven to provide value to potential AHEAD multi-vendor solutions, and it may actually find a permanent home in our lab. This drives toward the second use case of our Lab, which is to provide a multi-product, solution-driven lab infrastructure to showcase technology options for our clients.
At AHEAD we feel as though everything that can be automated should be automated and sometimes that requires custom work to build the integration points. Two recent examples of this are the integration between ServiceNow and Cisco’s UCS Director and the second version of our vRO workflows for Tintri.
Our engineers and architects often work with customers to help build integrations that matter in their environments and help to extend the built-in offerings from manufacturers. For example, the above mentioned example of vRO workflows for Tintri were created at the request of a customer. In creating these workflows, we were able to help this customer (and any others moving forward) move from basic automation and orchestration to something far more meaningful and useful.
You can also witness other examples of lab integration solutions that we recently demonstrated at AHEAD’s annual Looking AHEAD conference in June. Click here to check out the event recap page to see the presentations from this event.
Take Advantage of the AHEAD Lab and Briefing Center
We welcome you to schedule a time to visit the AHEAD Lab and Briefing Center at any time. You’ll have access to test and assess all of these technologies, as well as work with our resident subject matter experts to evaluate next-generation solutions. While you’re there, you can view demonstrations of the CDP blocks and other technologies.
For a complete list of our briefings and technologies, download our lab catalog.