Who Says Times Are Tough?

Here's one integrator that's making its parents proud.

Its been a quiet but very busy 12 months for Avanade. The joint venture between Accenture and Microsoft, which aims to drive Windows 2000 technology into enterprise accounts, turns one year old next week. And while the company hasnt been particularly vocal about its work, theres been plenty of activity nonetheless.

Avanade recently passed the 1,000-employee milestone, more than doubling its head count since last November. The company has opened 15 offices worldwide and plans to add two more by the end of the first quarter.

Even more important, Avanades client base is growing, as well. The company is at work on just more than 90 engagements with 83 customers.

The turbulence among Internet professional-services firms has somewhat eased the "raw work" of staffing at Avanade, says Adam Warby, the companys VP of marketing and sales. "The marketplace has changed and its a little bit easier to recruit," he says.

Translation: Expect the rapid hiring pace to continue. At its launch last year, company officials set a goal of reaching the 3,000 employee mark by March 2002. Today, it expects to more than double in size over the next few years.

Whats driving that kind of growth at a time many e-integrators are suffering? Warby says he sees client demand in such areas as technology infrastructure build outs and e-business enablement.

But Avanades lineage certainly plays a role in its rapid ascent. Microsoft and Accenture provide a potent marketing channel and currently generate the majority of the companys business.

A wider corporate acceptance of Windows 2000 also is in the companys favor, says Martin Zook, editor of Global IT Consulting Report.

Indeed, Avanades charter is to get "Microsoft products and solutions and applications into large [Fortune 100/Global 1000] companies and increase the market share of mission-critical applications running on the Microsoft platform," says Kevin Adams, director of technology alliances at Avanade.

To that end, the company has amassed an organization of Microsoft architects and engineers.

Still, thats only a first step in the companys overall grand design. Its now seeking partnerships that extend beyond Microsoft. Avanade last month signed an alliance with Unisys Corp. to focus on Unisys Enterprise Server ES 7000, Microsofts Windows 2000 Datacenter Server and Microsofts .Net Enterprise.

Overall, Avanade aims to cultivate a small number of global alliances with storage providers, CRM packages and content management software.

But can it win business without the help of its proud parents?