Convergent Computing (CCO)

It's not just what we do, it's how we do it...

Our History - In Business Since 1986!

A Bit of our History...

CCO has transitioned from Retail Computer Sales, to small business consulting, to being a global hardware and software reseller, to a network integrator, to being a cloud services and strategy consulting firm.  It is this versatility of "shifting" the business to meet the evolving nature of the technology industry that has kept CCO operating well into its 3rd decade in business...

The Early Years
Convergent Computing was founded as Computer Options Inc on September 15, 1986 by Rand Morimoto, Chris Amaris, Scott Tachiki, Allen Perez, Ed Hahn, and Victor Rivas (pictured below L to R: Victor, Ed, Allen, Rand, Scott, and Chris).
 
Computer Options, which later changed its name to California Computer Options, was a computer retail store in Downtown Berkeley open 7-days a week to walk-in customers looking to purchase IBM, Compaq, and IBM clone computer systems for home or for small business use.

The founders of Computer Options were still going to school (UC Berkeley) so it wasn't unusual to occasionally see a sign on the front door "Closed, will be back after class is over". However the first couple years, like with any small business, were difficult as the business established its reputation in the very young computer industry. Many of the same business principles that are core to Convergent Computing today were developed during these early years. California Computer Options (CCO) stood by customer satisfaction. If there was ever a customer complaint, it would be immediately escalated and resolved to provide the client with a personalized touch for any concern or issue. CCO also did things then that no one else offered at the time such as 24x7 technical support, onsite delivery and installation, and full end to end consulting assistance.

It was also during these early days that "annual events" were established such as an annual company Tahoe trip in the winter, an annual "camping trip" during the summer, and a yearend party to celebrate the year!

In 1986, CCO was one of the first in the world to start installing these things called "networks" and an acquaintance of Rand (Morimoto, CCO founder) named Bill Gates had a software company called Microsoft that came out with MS-Net that allowed computers to talk to each other.

At about the same time Rand met a guy at Comdex who was starting a company in Utah called Novell that was coming out with a new network operating system that was supposedly better than Microsoft's MS-Net. So Rand told Ray Noorda to send him his "better" network operating system. The software came on over 40 5-1/4" floppy diskettes with no manuals. One night Rand and Chris (Amaris, CCO founder) sat in front of a faxed copy of installation instructions handwritten by Ray and pieced together a Novell network. CCO was now in the Local Area Network design and installation business. CCO later became one of the first Novell Platinum Authorized resellers in the country.



The Move to Oakland (1991)
After 5-years in Berkeley, the company moved to its current location in Oakland to have closer and easier access to the freeway and to have a parking lot as CCO was now doing more work throughout the entire Bay Area (plus after being in the old Berkeley un-reinforced brick building during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake where the building swayed from side to side, they were convinced it was time to move...)

The first couple years after the move proved to be very challenging for the company with changes in local walk-in retail business and the start of a recession, so things were tight. The company refocused itself on a broader corporate product sales and support services market (instead of its legacy of being a retail sales business to consumers and small businesses)

In 1991, CCO leveraged its experience with networks as not only being one of the premier Novell Platinum integrators in the country, but also leveraged its history with Microsoft and became one of the only Microsoft LanManager integrators in the Western United States. At about this same time, a pet project of the DoD and NSF called the Internet opened up to public access, so CCO faxed in a request to get a domain name (cco.com). CCO now had Internet email, although having Internet email to talk to customers in 1991 was probably like Alexander Graham Bell sitting around with the telephone getting tired of calling only Watson. However CCO had established itself as a pioneer at connecting businesses to the Internet.

It was in 1992 that CCO joined forces with Inacomp Computer Center out of Troy Michigan and became an independent franchise operation of this predominantly Great Lakes and East Coast computer hardware and software national reseller and service organization. Within a year, Inacomp merged with Valcom Computer Centers to form Inacom Corporation that was headquartered out of Omaha, Nebraska. CCO was one of the only locations in California that was considered the "Far West" for Inacom.

CCO found a niche with large corporations looking for a service provider that knew Microsoft LanManager, Novell Netware, IBM OS/2, Banyan Vines, 3Com 3+ Share, and WAN/Internet technology, and CCO supported customers like Citibank, Panasonic, Taco Bell, Toyota, ConAgra Foods, Safeway, and the like.


The Inacom Oakland Era
While surfing in San Diego in 1993, Rand ran in to a guy who was a great surfer but also happened to be the head of contracts and procurement for Sprint Communications who was on vacation from Kansas City. He encouraged Rand to bid on Sprint's business (which Rand did), and weeks later, CCO received notice that it had won a two-year $12.5-million a year contract under a special minority business vendor arrangement to provide Sprint with over 1,000 configured and tested desktops, laptops, and servers to Sprint locations across the Country each month for the next 24-months. Because of its much publicized "win" with Sprint Communications, soon afterward CCO was awarded the worldwide product sales contract with Levi Strauss. CCO went from a company doing $8-million a year to $25-million a year overnight and changed its name from California Computer Options to Inacom Oakland because of its now international fulfillment services.

From 1994 to 1996, Inacom Oakland was splashed on the front cover of magazines like Computer Reseller News, VAR Magazine, Fortune, and Businessweek with its phenomenal success as a global product reseller. It was during this time that Microsoft re-entered the marketplace with a replacement to LanManager with a new product called Windows NT (version 3.1) that later rev'd to NT3.50 and then to a version that finally worked, Windows NT v3.51. When Microsoft talked about a new messaging system called Exchange, Rand, Chris, and Sophie went to Redmond to learn how this new email system might work (although even the developers couldn't get the product to work in the training lab, but we saw "hope" for this product and stuck with it for another couple years until Exchange v4.0 shipped).
 
Being the first Microsoft Exchange experienced provider in the country, Rand and Chris conducted the first seminar in Northern California on Microsoft Exchange in 1996 to over 450 attendees. This was the start of our monthly seminars to the public. For the next two years, Rand and Chris were flying around the world speaking at conferences and conventions on Microsoft Exchange, and in 1997 Rand was contracted by McGraw-Hill Publishing to write his first published book (with Chris as the contracted technical editor).

Between 1995 and 1996, Rand was working with a number of his international public speaking tour colleagues and started to speak on this brand new things called the World Wide Web. Rand's flagship keynote address demonstrated the way we've been using the Internet for the past decade using tools like gopher and finger, and contrasted it with new www-based "web pages." In his early presentations, Rand postulated that "some day" companies would be selling CDs and books on the Web and we wouldn't have to go into a busy shopping mall to do our shopping. Two years later, Rand had updated his keynote presentation deck to include screenshots of some pioneer startups on the Web like this tiny company with a funny name called Amazon.com, or even funnier Yahoo!.

In 1997, during one of his keynote addresses to the Federal government, Rand was in the speaker ready room talking with another presenter for the conference, Vice President Al Gore. Over the next few months, Rand carried on several conversations with the Vice President on the Web as well as another looming topic called Y2K. Rand was asked to be 1 of 12 advisors to the White House on Y2K and spent the last few years of the millennium working with the Federal government as well as government agencies across the country and around the world understand Y2K (Rand's stance was that Y2K wasn't going to cause the world to end, and that companies just had to understand and prepare for the impact, so Rand's voice countered most of his counterparts in that Rand felt less needed to be done than more around preparedness). Rand held his breath as January 1, 2000 rolled along and no airplanes fell out of the sky, and the power grid didn't crash confirming what he was advising the President and other government and corporate leaders around the globe.


The Change to Convergent Computing
In 2000, Convergent Computing had clearly shifted away from being a product sales organization so its ties and interworkings with Inacom Corporation were greatly diminishing. Inacom Oakland made the change to establish its own name in the marketplace and became Convergent Computing. With past successes with book writing, public speaking awareness, business development generated by seminars, and strong key vendor relationships, Convergent Computing (also known as CCO) today continues it's successful business practices.

With an extensive history with Microsoft, CCO worked with all of Microsoft's technologies 2-3 years before their release. Not only having access to beta code for things like Windows 2008 or Exchange 2007 or SQL 2008 years before the product releases, but actually helping customers implement these technologies in full production environments upwards of a year to 18-months before the product release. By having months and months of early adopter experience, CCO's consultants knew the products better than anyone else in the world and wrote and continues to write dozens of bestselling books on topics with the book titles releasing at the same time the product is released to the public. So while the rest of the world is just hearing about the release of a technology, CCO's consultants have dozens of customer references and a 1000+ page book out on the technology. And just as a new product is released out of Redmond, CCO is already working on the next release, so the consultants at CCO already have a sneak peek at what's coming up over the next 5-7 years.

As CCO has grown both in size as well as in it's level of expertise from its competitive advantage in working with technologies years in advance, CCO's top consultants have become experts in their own rights. Instead of just Rand (Morimoto) and Chris (Amaris) as world renown experts, CCO's Partner Consultants Michael (Noel), Andrew (Abbate), and Colin (Spence) ALL speak at conferences and conventions around the world and are known as worldwide experts in information technologies. Along with a couple dozen Senior Consultants that work directly with the partners, CCO's breadth and depth of expertise sets CCO apart from other consulting firms.

To hedge its bets in other market areas other than Microsoft technologies, Rand continues to speak at LinuxWorld, Sun's JavaOne Conference, IBM's SHARE Conference, Networld-Interop, and the RSA Conference somewhere in the world every year on topics ranging from server and application virtualization, Service of Authority (SOA), application platform optimization, storage area network integration, voice telephony and data system convergence, cyber-security, and the like. In fact it's not unusual for Rand to be presenting the latest in Microsoft technologies from his Apple Mac Laptop, or driving a PowerPoint presentation on Microsoft's cloud technologies from an Android Tablet...

More recently, Rand has been keynoting conferences on 6 continents (a few times on 4 continents in a single week!) on the topic of Cloud Computing and Software as a Service (SaaS). As IT, the evolution of computing, and technological advances continue to develop, Rand continues to keep his eye out for the "next" big thing, while keeping his feet planted in the day to day technologies organizations are implementing today.

So while CCO has "evolved" from being a retail sales company for consumers and small businesses to being a technology services consulting firm for medium and large businesses, a lot of things have not changed over the years. CCO is still dedicated to high quality work, customer satisfaction, exceptional employee services, and keeps its eye to the future to always stay one (or two) steps ahead of the market and the competition.


The Move to Walnut Creek
After over a quarter century in Alameda County (Berkeley and Oakland), CCO moved to Walnut Creek in February 2012. The move was a combination of an expiring lease in Oakland and the time to fit into an office setup that was more appropriate for the business (the Oakland location was acquired in the early 1990s when CCO was doing retail sales, however the past decade+, CCO does exclusively consulting work, so the need for a retail location no longer makes sense)

After the move, CCO continued to do the same type of work, with much of the focus in the industry being directed around "the cloud". In the summer of 2011, CCO was selected (from over 200,000 Microsoft consulting firms) as Microsoft's "Partner of the Year for the Private Cloud"! This was a HUGE recognition for CCO on a global scale that supported the work CCO does day in and day out helping global organizations plan, implement, migrate, and support their networking and application environments!  And in 2014, CCO was once again named Microsoft's "Partner of the Year," a repeat in an era of evolution as technologies are now clearly shifting toward cloud services with Hybrid environments (some technology remaining on-premise, some technology hosted in the cloud) as being the norm.

CCO continues to work with technologies 2-3 years before the official product release, giving the consultants at CCO hands-on experience working with early adopter organizations in implementing the future technologies so that when the technologies are publicly available, CCO has easily several years of real world experience and already written a 1500-page book based on best practices on the topic. CCO regularly competes against some of the largest consulting and integration firms in the world, and CCO usually "wins" the business because while other firms may have 2000+ consultants, having just a handful of the right experts who literally "wrote the book" on the technologies with years of real world early adopter experience is more important in getting the job done!

Everyone at CCO looks forward to continuing another quarter century of expert professional assistance, small business hands on customer service, and a "can do" attitude of exceptional work ethic driven services that CCO has provided to customers since its very beginning.