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Astel Systems scoops Microsoft award

The stage is set for Microsoft’s 2017 partner awards. (Chris Anderson)

At a cloud-focused partner awards ceremony, the Durban-based cloud platform company scooped the Managing Director’s award, for its fundamental role in enabling Microsoft’s ecosystem.

Cloud is undoubtedly a big focus for Microsoft, in fact it’s betting its future on it. With two of its hyperscale datacentres due to open their virtual doors in South Africa next year, it’s unsurprising that Microsoft’s 2017 partner awards had a big focus on the cloud.

Held at the Sandton Convention Centre on November 14, the event saw 17 awards handed out to a host of partners. Unlike the other awards that are decided upon by a panel of Microsoft employees, the final award of the evening – the Microsoft Managing Director’s award – is awarded solely at the discretion of the MD.

True to the event’s ‘head in the cloud’ theme, the MD’s award winner Astel Systems is truly focused on enabling the cloud. Astel’s platform enables Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Providers (CSPs) by offering complete customer lifecycle management, which encompasses CRM, provisioning, rating, billing, collection, servicing and support.

The Astel Systems team. Alkesh Singh, founder, is thrd from left. (Chris Anderson) The Astel Systems team. Alkesh Singh, founder, is thrd from left. (Chris Anderson)
Speaking on the sidelines of the event, Microsoft South Africa MD Zoaib Hoosen, says: “I looked to the ecosystem to find a partner that had great potential in the cloud space and was doing something different. The foresight Astel Systems had back in 2005 by getting into the cloud, before the cloud was even the cloud, means it’s starting to monetise and reap the benefits. In the past three years it has grown its revenue by over 550%.”

“Working together with Microsoft, the Astel team provides a strategic value to us and enables our ecosystem in a big way. While Astel itself might not be a big consumer of cloud, the software it has developed is a key component in our go to market in this country. There are probably a bunch of other partners generating more revenue with us currently, but when I look at the kind of partner we want going forward, Astel typifies that.”

Hoosen cites the fact that Astel is a home-grown company with South African IP, rather than repackaging an OEM solution as a key reason for his selection of it. Astel was also part of Microsoft’s equity equivalent programme, joining in 2014. “The key tenet of the equity equivalent programme is to find small black-owned companies that had developed their own IP, and that Microsoft could help them package and take to an international stage.”

Alkesh Singh, founder and MD of Astel Systems, says: “We've had plans in the pipeline for international expansion for a while, but with this award we can now fast-track the international growth. Microsoft’s CSP programme is the same the world over, so the platform we’ve developed can easily be scaled.”

“The award is a validation for us of our belief in the product that we started building a few years back. I think the credibility (the award brings) is massive for us, because we're fairly small in the scheme of things. But, this puts us on a different level to go and look at those international opportunities.”

Other winners of the 2017 awards include BUI, which won awards for the Cloud Platform category, as well as Datacentre Partner of the Year and Enterprise Mobility and Security Partner of the Year; Karabina won the Re-inventing Productivity category and was named the Data Analytics Partner of the Year; and First Technology was named the Software Asset Management Partner of the Year and Licence Solution Provider of the Year.

The winners

Cloud Solutions Aggregator (Indirect): Axiz

Cloud Solutions Reseller: XContent

Cloud Platform: BUI

Application Development: Tangent Solutions

Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement: Mint Management Technologies

Dynamics 365 Operations, GP and NAV: Chase Software

Reinventing Productivity: Karabina (Information Systems Partners)

Learning Solutions: Torque IT Computer Training

Software Asset Management (SAM): First Technology

Microsoft Consulting Services: Business Connexion

Datacentre: BUI

Data Analytics: Karabina (Information Systems Partners)

Enterprise Mobility & Security: BUI

Consumer Distributor: Rectron

License Solution Provider (LSP): First Technology

Education Partner: CTU Training Solutions

Managing Director: Astel Systems

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