Spotlight on the Cloud Solution Architecture Team: Q&A with Chris Smith

Chris Smith CSA Spotlight

Unitas Global is transforming the consumption of IT by providing the most innovative, secure, and simple to use solutions. Behind each Unitas Global cloud infrastructure, connectivity, and managed services solution is a knowledgeable and dedicated solution engineer. An infrastructure expert with years of experience in Unitas engineering and architecture under his belt, Chris Smith is now leading the Cloud Solution Architecture team. We spoke with Chris to get more insights into the work his team is doing, how he’s leading the team, and how the team supports enterprise clients and channel partners. Read on for the full Q&A.

Chris, tell us about your role.

Chris: I manage the Cloud Solution Architecture (CSA) team for Unitas Global. What that means is my team and I are the technical experts involved in pre-sales conversations all the way through architecting infrastructure solutions that the operations team delivers and manages. Unitas sales executives and channel partners bring in the CSAs to listen to the stories of prospective clients and the problems they’re looking to solve.

From there, the CSAs ask more questions in order to design infrastructure solutions that solve challenges and remove bottlenecks. We also answer a wide range of questions from prospective clients, things like: how can we improve our network performance? Can we improve performance and lower our costs? Which public cloud provider has the best advanced analytics capabilities? We can answer all of these questions, and they’re specific to each client’s needs and goals.

The CSA team also works with our strategic suppliers to understand our joint solutions so when we are brought into an opportunity, we are expert enough to understand and qualify when a particular technology solution will fit well with a client. Conversely, we know which technology will be the right fit for a prospective customer when they come our way.

This team plays a critical role in understanding client needs and the drivers behind those needs so we can build solutions that add value and benefit a client’s business as a whole. Personally, I’m a problem solver. I like to listen to what ails the client and then figure out how we’re going to fix that problem together. I love building relationships. I’m passionate about being a relational person in my life in general, and I bring that to Unitas Global. I bring the ability to be very personal with our clients. It’s not just ‘I’m offering a service.’ It’s not just ‘I’m meeting a need.’ I’m really getting to know who our clients are so we can not only solve the problems of today, but we have the longstanding relationship to solve for future problems as well.

What are your specific responsibilities as the leader of the CSA team?

Chris: I’m in a player/coach role. I manage the team of CSAs, matching skills and knowledge with each opportunity.  I also motivate the team to be continuously learning. As I’ve watched the demand for public cloud grow, I’ve pursued certifications on Microsoft Azure to have the knowledge to provide value to my customers. Other members of my team have done the same with AWS and so forth. My ongoing responsibilities are to grow and coach the team; to deeply understand the Unitas offerings; to deeply understand our partner offerings; and to build outstanding client solutions. I’m well positioned to lead this team because play in this space as a cloud solution architect as well.

Since studying communications and computer science in college, I’ve spent 12 years of my career in engineering. I have a number of certifications including four in Microsoft Azure. I’ve gained a deep expertise in the technical side of cloud which, coupled with my communications training, positions me well for working with the CSAs and also with our clients.

What is your vision for the future of the CSA team?

Chris: Our solution architects are individuals with strong experience both on the technical side and in pre-sales. They’ve held operations roles, they’ve touched the hardware, they’ve built out these environments, so we have the skillsets to create excellent, high quality solution designs for our operations team to implement. We look forward to growing the department this year with more equally talented individuals.

The ongoing purpose of my team is to be a true partner to our clients throughout their buying journey. We’ll clarify, refine, and document the clients’ needs to benefit them and act as a true bridge between them and our operations team.

How do you work with our channel partners?

Chris: My team’s role with our channel partners is to define and describe our solutions as an extended sales team supporting a joint sale. We are the go-to technical resource not only for the Unitas sales team, but also for our channel partners when it comes to qualifying, nurturing, and closing joint opportunities. We are the experts that architect the right solutions for each of our partner’s customers.