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Knowing what you DON'T know has HUGE value...

Knowing what you DON'T know has HUGE value...
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African Alliance is an investment banking group that operates in Africa. The Group consists of between 75 and 100 companies, with a staff of more than 3,000 people across the continent.

The Challenge

As the new head of IT for African Alliance, Jonathan du Plessis was looking to get a sense of the IT resources he was working with, as the previous incumbent had not left him much to go on. He needed hard data with which to make any adjustments needed to “right-size” the company’s IT hardware, software, and licensing to match its needs.

Effective Engagement Makes The Difference 

Vincent Beket, Account Executive at Velocity Group, engaged with Jonathan at African Alliance at exactly the right time: Jonathan had recently taken over as Head of IT, and was looking for a way to get the data he needed to start implementing his vision for the company’s IT.

As Jonathan puts it, “Vincent got very lucky! Up until very recently, a lot of our services were outsourced to a very big local IT solutions provider. Since I started, I’ve been auditing everything, as I’m a big fan of auditing. That includes our Microsoft licensing, our infrastructure, our network, and I found that not a lot had been done in the last ten years. So I was looking at cleaning that up.”

As it turns out, Velocity Group had just the right solution for that and was not interested in merely trying to sell us new technology without both the client and them having a good understanding of the technology landscape.

The Proposed Solution?

Velocity Group proposed deploying Block 64, an agentless Asset Management Tool, on African Alliance’s IT environment. Block 64 specialises in gathering information on, and generating insight about, on-premises and cloud-based IT infrastructure, with particular focus on server licensing.

According to Vincent, “Block 64 goes into your network and scans all subnets, picks up all the devices and servers on the network, and then does an in-depth scan on every single device. Then it presents you with hard data.  From simple aspects like what antivirus is running on the machine and what software is not updated or patched. It also runs a full audit on your server environment and gives you feedback in terms of over utilised or underutilised capacity and even does a full Azure migration costing at the same time!”

Says Jonathan, “Microsoft is sometimes vague about server licensing, so Velocity Group’s detailed analysis was highly useful. Effectively, a lot of what I wanted to achieve is to make sure that I licensed correctly, but also to do an internal audit of all of African Alliance’s IT resources, so that I could find out what I’m working with.”

What Solution Was Implemented?

Ultimately, the solution undertaken by Velocity Group on African Alliance’s behalf was to implement Block 64, let it run for 3 weeks, analyse the gathered data and put it forward in easy to understand reports.

Velocity Group then presented the reports and suggestions back to Jonathan and came up with a plan to implement the strategies that aligned with his goals.

Example Report:

Optimisation output


Being a mature solution, there were really no roadblocks and just a small speed bump presented itself. The server chosen to run Block 64 on was initially under-powered for the job; a quick virtual upgrade later and it was running smoothly. This took less than half a day to resolve.

Anything Unexpected About The Process?

Jonathan was surprised that the software was able to supply warranty information on his laptops by finding their service keys, and that African Alliance was actually “wholly over-licensed” for their needs.

Block 64 also confirmed just how old the company’s laptops and servers were, something Jonathan had only suspected up to that point. “Block 64 showed me that our youngest server is eight years old! That’s just ridiculous”, says Jonathan.

Vincent notes, “In this instance where servers are out of their replacement cycle, the capability to project Azure costs is important, as it allows us to weigh up an on-premises vs Cloud strategy with the customer and have full and correct information at hand in terms of correct workload sizing”

It also brought the message home just how important Asset Management is, and how centralised visibility into those assets is a must.

Business Benefits

African Alliance now has visibility into the exact status of the company’s IT: how many laptops and servers they have, what software and server licenses they have, how many users, what cloud services are in operation, and even the warranty status of their laptops.

“We have adjusted our licensing according to the number of servers and users we have, and we are well on our way to fully achieving the ‘right-sizing’ I was after when I initiated the project. What I really appreciate about Velocity Group’s solution is that it has given me confidence that my approach is on the right track,” says Jonathan.

“And yes, while we will certainly realise cost benefits down the line, that was not the reason I did this. I wanted to know what I was dealing with, and Block 64 has shown me that, and more besides. I now have plenty of hard data to take to my board to discuss what we’re going to do going forward.”

Velocity Group’s Value

Since engaging with African Alliance and implementing the Block 64 solution for Jonathan, Velocity Group has become an extension of Jonathan’s internal IT Team.

“What I like about working with the team at Velocity Group is the immediacy and responsiveness they give me. I can pick up the phone and talk to them when I need them,” he says. “When you’re working with a huge Managed Services Provider like our previous incumbent, you log a call, and they only speak to you four days later. I can get onto a Teams call with a Velocity Group Solutions Architect and solve problems in five minutes. I prefer working like that.”

Vincent adds that “At Velocity Group, we pride ourselves on our customer-centricity. We care about our customers’ objectives, and want to help them achieve those as quickly and as cost-effectively as possible. And because we’re agile, we’re able to give our customers the personal attention they need and solve problems quickly."

“With the results we’ve seen African Alliance achieve, we’re pleased to have been a part of their journey so far, and we look forward to seeing how else we can help them achieve their goals in the future,” Vincent concludes.

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