Axis seeing future boom in demand for tech services

axisPORTSMOUTH — Leaders of Axis Business Solutions in Portsmouth say the days of viewing information technology employees as single-faceted mechanics — valued primarily for how well they set up a network or maintain a server — are ending, if not already over.

Joe Paquet, Axis’ director of strategic alliances, said last week that the new IT model requires an ability to provide companies with an array of services, ranging from data analysis and information storage to document management, business intelligence and more.

“We enable organizations to leverage technology to grow their business and mitigate security and financial risks,” Paquet said.

Business has been good.

Axis President Peter Estes said the company, which he founded 13 years ago with a single employee, saw 30 percent growth in 2014 and is expecting 50 percent growth next year. Axis now has 35 employees in New Hampshire and southern Maine, has compiled $28 million in tech service sales and expects to reach $40 million in 2015. Estes called Axis “the fastest-growing tech service provider in northern New England.”

Estes and Paquet talked about Axis’ growth Thursday while sitting in the company’s 6,500-square-foot office, nestled among construction sites in a developing section of downtown Portsmouth known as the Northern Tier.

Across the parking lot, the upscale, mixed-use 233 Vaughan Street project is taking shape. On the other side of nearby railroad tracks is a large parking lot that’s also slated for development, potentially of a hotel, convention center and commercial space.

Axis shares its building with QA Café, a software company that provides IP testing solutions and analysis tools for home networks, broadband access and more.

Estes said the tech services industry is revving up on the Seacoast and across New Hampshire.

“You see a lot of really high-end technology talent that’s coming here — it’s a really innovative place for technology,” Estes said.

Axis recently announced the hire of Chris Harney as director of emerging technologies. Harney is a “cloud architect” with 26 years of IT experience and previously worked as a systems engineer for L.L. Bean, according to an Axis news release.

Estes said staying on top of new trends and technologies is vital to Axis’ success.

“I think it’s companies that are adding intelligence to technology that are succeeding right now,” Estes said. “The key to it is that we have all-star engineering staff that can design and implement these systems for clients.”

Paquet cited two of Axis’ roughly 900 clients in describing what the company does. He said Axis has helped a law firm with seven locations in Maine utilize data-aware storage software to streamline its research, and enabled a mid-sized New Hampshire medical center to combine and consolidate several IT functions into “one physical, logical stack.”

“These solutions that we offer are not just pure IT solutions — they’re organizational solutions,” Estes said.

Such convergence can reduce recurring costs for functions such as information backup, recovery and storage. Many companies, Paquet said, are “bound to vendors” such as Dell and HP for such functions, despite emerging technologies elsewhere that could better meet a particular company’s needs.

“Don’t let the obsolescence or maintenance of something force your buying patterns,” Paquet said.

He said some Axis clients “are seeing about a 35-to-45 to 1 compression ratio on their data.” In simpler terms, Paquet said, that means, “Before, I had 35 filing cabinets in this room — now I have one.”

Estes said Axis works closely with regional innovators such as DataGravity, a Nashua company that provides data management and storage services. He also cited SimpliVity, a Massachusetts company that provides “hyper-converged” IT infrastructure services.

Jeff Boehm, DataGravity’s vice president of marketing, praised the relationship.

“Axis Business Solutions is a highly valued partner of DataGravity, as the company has been a member of the DataGravity Partner Network since the beginning, signing on as one of our first partners in our early-access program,” Boehm said. “What sets the company apart is its ability to identify the best technologies possible that will deliver the greatest value to its customers. The company is committed to working with emerging technology companies that are set to disrupt the status quo for midsize organizations, and in turn provide its customers with solutions that give them a competitive advantage in their markets.”

Paquet said leaders of DataGravity, SimpliVity and other tech companies spoke at Axis’ annual customer summit, a gathering of 60 to 70 key clients that this year was held in September in York, Maine.

Paquet said Axis frequently hosts events to bring industry minds together. A luncheon seminar on stress-free data protection, for example, is scheduled for Dec. 9 at the Hanover Street Chophouse in Manchester. Information can be found through the “events” link at axisbusiness.com.

Both Paquet and Estes said the surge in emerging tech-related, data-management services is unlike anything the industry has seen for the past decade.

“The last 12 to 18 months, and I would say the next 24 to 36, are going to be pretty dynamic,” Paquet said. “I could see, in 2015, a lot of these ecosystem partners joining up, and joining with us.”

Estes was similarly bullish about the development of “disruptive technologies” such as data-aware storage and hyper-converged infrastructure.

“These emerging technologies … are going to mature a lot in 2015,” Estes said. “We expect incredible growth around those.”