Running your business News

CJ Fairfield

You’ve got to be part of everything from the original business case, through implementing and making sure that we’re getting our return on investment. That’s what Trace3 does well. They are engaged in writing the business case, why do we need this, what it’s going to resolve, what it’s going to replace or improve,’ says Jack Swearhart, vice president of global software operations and managed services at Xylem.


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With a potential recession ahead, most organizations in the IT industry are looking for ways to drive efficiency and cut costs. Jack Swearhart and Xylem are no different.

Swearhart is the vice president of global software operations and managed services at Washington, DC-based Xylem, a global provider of sustainable water technologies that improve the way water is used, managed, conserved and reused. The company, which is a customer of Irvine, Calif.-based solution provider Trace3also provides services for other utilities such as gas and electricity.

“There’s a big drive towards efficiency,” he said. “If you don’t have a solution and a single pane of glass where you can view all this—whether it’s automation, monitoring or security—it’s incredibly hard.”

Swearhart was the 2022 winner of the Trace3 Outlier Award, which honors individuals who deliver innovation and outstanding leadership in the IT industry. The award winner is chosen by a panel of judges and is announced at Trace3’s annual Evolve conference and gala.

Xylem has been a Trace3 customer for about 10 years, but Swearhart never thought he’d be the recipient of the award. He was proud to win it for his team.

“My team started so small,” he told CRN. “The team that I work with, they’re all really committed to the mission and really committed to what our products do. I wanted to win it for my family and I wanted to win it for the organization.”

CRN recently spoke to Swearhart about what he likes about Trace3, what he wants to see more of from both solution providers and vendors, and how he wants them to help his company in tough economic times.

What do you like about Trace3’s services?

Our big push is you’re coming in to help build the business case for the product. Don’t just come in and shop me any tool or any piece because we’re not an IT shop, we’re a service provider. You’ve got to be part of everything from the original business case, through implementing and making sure that we’re getting our return on investment. That’s what Trace3 does well. They are engaged in writing the business case, why do we need this, what it’s going to resolve, what it’s going to replace or improve… so that’s the big part. I think Trace3 has the best engineers. From day one when we started working with them, Trace3 and their commitment to getting the best engineers they can hire makes a difference.

Where did most of your IT spend go in 2022?

If you’re looking at our two biggest expenses, without a doubt it’s cloud and security. That’s what it will be in 2023 as well. When you think of the biggest challenge since we are in multiple clouds all over the world, and then a big private cloud presence here in the US and Canada, it’s how you develop a single pane of glass from the security side that gives you visibility in every public and every private cloud that you’ve deployed. When we’re thinking about what we want to focus on in the next couple of years, it’s that. We need a lot more visibility into the private cloud portion, not just public cloud.

What do you want more of from your solution provider?

I’d like them to be out in front finding the leading-edge new technology and bringing it in and understanding my business and explaining how it could add value. When we’re delivering the service we don’t always have time to be researching what’s going on and identifying trends and maybe suggesting new products. What I want more of from Trace3 is continuing to watch what’s developing out in the market and then bring these things to me with a business case on how they can improve my operations. They have to know my business inside and out.

Have you doubled down on cyber insurance?

Yes. Right now it’s out of control. If we look at cybersecurity insurance five years ago, it was pretty reasonable. Now, in the same things we talked about being great that were multiple clouds that were all over the world, there are all these new products that are opening up. … So cyber insurance and everything that’s going on there, I think it’s going to explode. It’s a bit of a worry as a service provider because it’s not necessarily a cost that we’ve accounted for.

What do you want more of from your vendors?

We’re huge AWS customers. The value in sticking with AWS is the more you’re in, you’re going to increase your credits. … But I don’t want it to be just about that part. I want it to be about a smart spend and about making sure that our solutions are as efficient as they can be. Supportability. A big piece also is to be able to, at times, complement the resources. A lot of these skill sets develop pretty quickly. With AWS and everyone else, I expect them to help us run as efficiently as possible and then be able to jump in with some additional skills from their side if needed if we come up short.

When it comes to your IT operations, what are your pain points?

It has to be around security. We’re deployed around the world and everything in this industry changes fast. Security changes faster than any part of anything else. So the reality is, it’s relentless. You have to continue to stay on top of everything.

How are you preparing for an economic downturn?

We’re lucky enough, if you think about what we provide even in a recession—water, gas and electricity—you’re going to need those. But that being said, there’s been a big focus to be as efficient as we possibly can. Even though our customer base is expanding, saying we’re going to add heads is not that easy. There’s a big drive towards efficiency and we talked about the multi-cloud piece, if you don’t have a solution and a single pane of glass where you can view all this—whether it’s automation, monitoring or security—it’s incredibly hard. Any spend is going to have that huge business case like I talked about. That’s what we’re going to continue to push—to be more efficient with what we have. We just can’t go out and add all the people that we need so we have to figure out how to make things more efficient. The answer isn’t just to squeeze more out of the people. The answer is to squeeze more out of the tools.


  Learn About CJ Fairfield

CJ Fairfield

CJ Fairfield is an associate editor at CRN covering solution providers, MSPs and distributors. Prior to joining CRN, she worked at daily newspapers, including The Press of Atlantic City in New Jersey and The Frederick News-Post in Maryland. She can be reached at cfairfield@thechannelcompany.com.


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