10 years sepago - 10 years passion for IT!
Ten years… is that a long time? Depends. In the fast-paced world of IT, one often gets the impression that time just flies by. Many projects have to be implemented, one's head is full of ideas. New technologies create new opportunities. New projects and new ideas follow. This is how it has been at sepago from the first day on, and it's still like that today. But if one pauses and looks back, all that has happened in the last t e n years finally emerges. And then, one gets the impression: Ten years are also a long time after all.
With the trust extended to us by our customers, sepago has embarked on many large and challenging projects. This resulted in long-term business relationships and partnerships whose basis has remained unchanged for the last ten years: It is sepago's standard to ensure an efficient application provisioning and a future-oriented direction of the IT to deliver the best result in the framework of the agreed-upon project. This standard with respect to our own work is the passion which defines us to this day – in consulting, in operational support and in the development of our own innovative IT solutions.
Beyond this, it has always been important to us that the climate in a cooperation as well as within the company is positive and constructive: A respectful interaction and the ability to be authentic signify the sepago way of working. A road we haven't traveled alone - which is why we would like to say a big thank you at this point to all customers, business partners, staff and friends of sepago! You have a big part in why we are pleased to look back at how sepago has developed.
In this spot, we will present a short sepago story over each of the coming ten months to show how sepago became the sepago you know today. The view back into the past shows how rich ten years can be, and this does create some eagerness for the next ten years!
Yours sincerely, sepago.
Paul Lütke Wissing, Marius Gawenda, Claus Friedrichs and Carsten Brüggerhoff sealed their decision to start a company on March 7, 2002 in Cologne's Brauhaus Früh brewery. Out of practicality they documented their first shareholder decision, carried unanimously, on a beer coaster: "We resolve to enjoy a start-up beer". Together, they then developed the company name "sepago".
What was needed was a word that was short and memorable but still unoccupied. The word creation "sepago" seemed suitable especially as the Google search for it yielded only a single hit: On Ebay UK, an old postcard of "Lake Sepago" was up for auction, which finally went for 10 Pound Sterling to sepago.
In this case, it emerged that it actually related to Lake Sebago (north of Portland/USA), i.e., it had been a typo – even better as this meant that sepago was really a unique name. The postcard motif of the baths on the American lake has since been used by sepago as various croppings in Internet and print media. In its entirety, the motif can be seen as a wall picture at the "headquarters" set up in 2002 on the Dillenburger Straße, where sepago started with an office room, a desk, an old chair from Marius' grandmother and a nevertheless fully equipped server rack.
Today, sepago is registered worldwide as a brand, the headquarters have grown to cover two floors, and both the furnishings and the IT equipment are clearly more extensive and have been adapted multiple times to the technological progress. Only the image of Lake Sepago and the founding coaster still radiate in their old glory
As specialists for server-based IT and Citrix Solution Provider, sepago was in demand right from the start and in 2002, there were already seven staff employed. In its search for new collaborators, the company also made use of unusual avenues, such as the initiatives of the BILD newspaper, Monster.de and Deutsche Telekom, who wanted to place 1,000 unemployed into paid jobs at Easter 2002.
Carsten Brüggerhoff promptly put his hand up, scheduled an interview and hired the first applicant only a few days after the start of the initiative. In large fonts, BILD's editors appointed him Germany's Fastest Decisionmaker for this.
Apart from recruiting experienced staff, sepago already banked on its own training of IT consultants from an early stage. For this purpose, the company developed a program whose German name roughly translates as "reach for the stars". It offers two graduates entry into IT consulting twice a year: After a multi-month intensive settling-in period, they gain their own technical experience in customer projects in close cooperation with the established consultants and can continuously build their consultancy competencies. All staff are supported in further development through vendor certifications.
This lets sepago point to a very high certification level among its staff today and lets us celebrate various staff members who made their way to the stars and are now senior consultants at sepago.
Nevertheless, the company is still growing today and is still looking for IT experts at different levels. sepago offers them challenging projects and a unique collegial working climate: With over 50 staff, sepago was able to participate in the audit of the renowned Great Place to Work initiative for the first time 2010 and was promptly awarded the coveted label "Germany's Best Employer". sepago was able to repeat this success in 2011, and the company intends to build on this in the future, too.
Let's call it the "sepago spirit", a basic mood that makes for a positive working climate in the company and that has been lived across all levels from the first days on. What are the ingredients? First, it is the opportunity to work on exciting projects, to size up and grow professionally.
This also includes the ability for personal engagement in the IT community. For this purpose, sepago offers its staff a lot of trust, flat hierarchies and the opportunity to participate in shaping things. On the other hand, the special sepago spirit grows from an explicitly respectful interaction and mutual collegial support.
The team spirit is promoted through various smaller and larger events, among them the "traditional" events such as the sepago Hiking Day, the sepago Day at the Beach and the Christmas Party as much as the occasional barbecue without special occasion, the lunchtime football or tennis tournaments organised by staff, city runs and much more.
sepago is open for a lot and open to show what the curious and applicants can expect at sepago: As part of the home page, the section "Blogs & Co." was created to communicate the lively work and social life at sepago. This isn't just where the much visited "sepagoBlogs" are located, where sepago staff have been writing on various IT topics and sharing their expertise since 2007, but also everything about the stuff that happens backstage. For sepago, this is not only not a problem, but explicitly wanted, as the company is convinced that sharing means everyone profits at the end of the day.
IT consultants of sepago are on the road a lot. After all, services such as concept implementations, project management and operational support require the close cooperation with the customers in the data center on site. This is one of the reasons, for example, why company cars are practically a permanent part of our consultants' kits.
Since the founding of the company ten years ago, sepago consultants have been active in a multitude of projects all across Germany out of the HQ in Cologne. When an additional continuous focus of activity developed in North Germany over the last few years, sepago took this as an occasion to open a branch office in Hamburg.
After careful organization, office search and setup, the day finally arrived at the beginning of 2012: sepago opened its doors in Paul-Dessau-Straße 1 in Hamburg-Barenfeld. A core team of five experienced "naturalized northern light" IT consultants for Citrix, Microsoft and VMware solutions has since been permanently stationed in the Hanse city. When needed, the team is provided with project support from Cologne.
As practical as the second presence may be for the sepago customers and consultants in Northern Germany, it does mix up the social order in the HQ, though: If the only previous source of e-mails with image attachment advertising cake in the kitchen was Cologne, these appetizer mails now also arrive from Hamburg to make the colleagues at the other site yearn in vain... are we facing a cake battle?
As an IT consultancy house, sepago has been specializing in efficient application provisioning in large infrastructures since its early days. Its customers include authorities, health insurers and financial service providers operating across sites. From the passionate engagement with diverse requirements at the customers' sites and the discussion of optimal solutions among the colleagues arose sepago's special ambition to solve recurring problems in an automated fashion with its own scripts, tools or software.
An example for this is sepagoPROFILE. sepago analyzed the problem that silo environments regularly saw some settings made by the user not being saved in the user profile. The system mandated that every opened application created a local copy of the central roaming profile on the application server. When a session was terminated, this copy was written back to the central storage location, overwriting the last version saved there.
It quickly became clear that the problem was known but that there was no satisfactory and technically clean remedy available. sepago thus began developing its own solution via reverse engineering. This was eventually created in the form of an intelligent synchronization mechanism which only writes the most recent profile changes actually undertaken back to the centrally stored profile: In doing so, sepagoPROFILE simultaneously reduced the number of write operations in the network and significantly accelerated the startup routine of applications.
Beyond sepago's own circle of customers, the innovative solution convinced large enterprises and organizations and was sold internationally as far away as the United States. This eventually alerted Citrix to the solution of its PlatinumPartner from Germany and led to their purchase of the software from sepago in 2007. Along with the acquisition, Citrix agreed on the cooperation with the sepago developers to integrate sepagoPROFILE into its own product range. The sale of sepagoPROFILE therefore marks the birth of sepago Research & Development as an independent business unit.
At the beginning of 2010, the cooperation with Citrix on the implementation of sepagoPROFILE into the Citrix product range was completed successfully. For sepago Research & Development (R&D), it was like the award of a knighthood by one of the most significant international technology vendors: the recognition for excellent know-how and a leading position in the area of user profile handling.
The time for a new software project had come, which once again was going to revolve around the topic of profile management. Against the background of server and client migrations onto the new operating systems Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows 7 and the associated introduction of 64-bit technology, it became apparent that profile settings could no longer be transferred by simple copy of the respective files.
Not migrating the user profiles is not a sensible option either, however. The restoration of the settings – often with assistance of the user help desk – takes up productive working time and increases the cost of a migration project drastically. Moreover, the missing personal configurations often lead to a negative personal experience as the users start on the new system; the migration project is not perceived as a success.
Profile Migrator is sepago's all-round solution to this problem. The handling of the "old" V1 profiles and the "new" V2 profiles by Windows was analyzed and decoded for the software from as early as 2009. This allowed the development of a process for the collection, adaptation and transfer of the profile data between practically all Windows systems. As a result, Profile Migrator permits the cross-platform transfer of arbitrary local application settings on clients and servers while simultaneously cleansing the user profiles from all non-migrated application settings in the new profile.
Sepago R&D started marketing Profile Migrator in 2010 via the web portal www.profilemigrator.com. In the following year, an important functionality was added with the implementation of the "Cloud Mode". Since then, Cloud Service Providers are also able to import the profiles and data of their new customers into the cloud infrastructure at the push of a button. You thus simplify the conversion into the cloud for your customers and ensure a positive user experience of the changeover into the cloud. Profile migration as a competitive advantage – sepago makes it possible.
Recurring complex requirements for the IT administration have always been one of sepago's favorite topics. Automation of the processes does not only save time and money here. Quality assurance also gains from the automated execution of the tasks. And IT consultants can of course contribute all their technical knowledge in the development and implementation of the scripts and demonstrate a special problem solving competency.
Soon after its formation, sepago thus began to develop its own automation solutions. An early example is the "sepagoINSTALLER" as a solution for desktop and application deployment, which was deployed in various large infrastructures. The most recent completed project from this series concerns the automated setup of servers and farms and has been on the market since 2012 as "sepagoLogix".
sepagoLogix is deployed as a unique framework for the Citrix XenApp 6.x servers. Once integrated into the respective infrastructure, sepagoLogix lets you install and configure both individual servers as well as entire farms at the push of a button. The provisioning of new servers as well as the disaster recovery of existing servers thus becomes child's play. sepago's automation solution neither depends on the target environment nor on the deployment software in this context.
Apart from its own automation solutions such as sepagoLogix, which are offered standardized under all-inclusive conditions, sepago also develops customized solutions at customer request. With their assistance, the IT department can dispense with classic demands much more quickly and can respond flexibly to new demand requirements. With sepago's automation solutions, a lot happens almost by itself.
The aspect of "partnerships" represents an important building block in sepago's successful concept. There are the partnerships with all the leading technology vendors, first and foremost those with Citrix, Microsoft and VMware. This benefits in particular the customers as a corresponding certification documents that the required skills and the technical know-how actually exist at the external IT consultant.
While the technology vendors specify exact standards for the achievement of a certain partner level, sepago has always placed value on exceeding the required evidence. Apart from the personal motivation of staff, their technical qualification is without doubt the prerequisite for exceptional results. To this day, sepago can point to an above average grade of certifications in the industry: the roughly 50 consultants hold 140 Citrix, 152 Microsoft and 9 VMware certificates (as of February 2012).
The partnership and qualification concept led to fruition. Having earned its customers' trust and having performed in some of Europe's largest infrastructure projects, sepago in turn became an attractive partner for the technology vendors. As early as 2005, only three years after sepago's founding, it was appointed "Platinum Solutions Advisor" by Citrix. For Citrix, this represents the highest partner status, awarded only to a very few selected partners and subject to annual review.
Up to the present day, sepago is a Citrix Platinum Partner and on top of this a Microsoft Certified Gold Partner in the areas of virtualization and servers, as well as a Silver Partner in the area of desktops. sepago is also a VMware Partner Professional. sepago didn't use its special access to the vendors just to extend the joint business in consulting and operations work. With its own developments sepagoProfile and Profile Migrator (which we have already presented in this series), sepago also contributed much to the enrichment of the partner technologies, with new solutions based on sepago's ideas and knowlegde about the challenges faced by customers.
This trusted and committed cooperation with staff, customers and technology partners documents the value-oriented holistic understanding of partnership at sepago.
Every month, over 30,000 visitors find their way to sepago's home page. To give them a current impression and present ourselves in the best light, an extensive update of the home page was on the menu for 2010. The company had continued to develop and had a new structure: In addition to the "Professional IT Services" business division with the subareas "Consulting Services" and "Operation Services", "Research and Development" (R&D for short) had grown into a department in its own right. Moreover, the knowledge built up over the years was going to be better embedded into the context in the form of blog contributions, making it easier to find for visitors.
As the revision of texts, layout and back end progressed, the idea matured to integrate videos into the new site as well. Specifically, sepago consultants were meant to explain which services they provide in various areas and which benefit these give to the customers. A production company was thus contracted, texts were drafted and given to the consultants who had been prepared to take part. Then came shooting day. Camera and lights were installed in the conference room, and finally the moment arrived: Camera live and… action!
Does this sound familiar? You know your topic inside out, were able to come across perfectly with your message in various rehearsals, and all of a sudden nothing works anymore! Stage fright? Whatever… our clear insight at the end of the day: We're IT consultants, not actors. So the home page video project became a movie of a quite different kind. The best clips from the material produced were compiled: those sequences documenting the serious but ultimately futile acting efforts of the colleagues.
The out-takes video "debuted" at the sepago Christmas party – amid frenetic cheers. As even the participating "actors" were able to laugh about themselves, it was finally decided to publish this video on the new web site, as it is "somehow typically sepago" and reminds us that we're not a bunch of actors.
The last ten years have been eventful ones. Sepago has grown from a small team into a medium-size enterprise with around 60 staff. We have implemented exciting projects and have helped our customers save time, resources and money. Our ideas have given rise to own software solutions that convinced even the "really big" technology leaders, such as Citrix. With our blogs, we have made a name for ourselves in the large international IT community. For the last two years, we have been among the best employers in Germany and Europe – and of course there would be many more big and small stories from the last ten years to be told here.
But as our small series looking back comes to an end, there's a natural question: What's next, how will it continue? The answer is pretty simple: After the number 10 comes number 11! And in carnival-mad Cologne, the number 11 has a higher significance anyway ;-). In our eleventh year, we also want to grow further, gently but continuously. The large acceptance we find among our customers with our special sepago way forms the basis for this. That's why we'll retain our way and our independence into the future when we launch ourselves body & soul into new challenging IT projects - faithful to our mission to optimize complex IT infrastructures and automate processes. This is because that’s exactly what we want to do over the next ten years, too. Together with you!