Calvin Engen – F12.net Inc.
Outdated servers. Software updates. Cloud versus on-premises. Data management and storage. And what’s a “phish” and why is it spelled that way?
All these and more can be vexing questions and issues for small and mid-sized business owners who need technology to succeed but don’t always have the time or expertise to make certain they have the right technology.
Calvin Engen and F12.net Inc. feel their pain, but instead of offering tech solutions that could well be obsolete in a couple of years, Engen says his company provides an IT platform that evolves and adapts over time.
The solution is F12 Infinite, a subscription service designed for small and mid-sized businesses that either lack their own IT departments or want to increase the focus and capacity of their internal team, says Engen, F12.net’s chief technology officer.
“The company accomplished the goal of taking the complexities out of managed IT services for one of the largest and most underserved markets,” Engen says. “We provide a complete business IT platform, including the hardware, software, and services to bridge the skill gap, manage the risk and support growth.”
Building on success
Launched in spring 2021, F12 Infinite isn’t the first iteration of the company’s subscription-based IT services. Engen, who celebrated his 15th anniversary with the Edmonton, Alberta, company in June 2021, says it’s the sixth generation of the IT platform. The first, Service Plus, was introduced in 2001, according to the company website.
“Twenty years ago, IT was about connecting office computers to collaborate,” Engen says. “Now, it’s infinitely more complex and riskier, because it’s globally connected, always on, and always accessible.”
Though F12 Infinite is often used by medical and professional services, such as law and accounting, as well as manufacturing and health care, Engen says it can be applied to any business and industry.
F12.net has also expanded its services areas by acquiring managed service providers. In 2021 it added My Blue Umbrella and Xylotek Solutions. Those followed the 2019 addition of Level4 Technologies, which opened new markets in British Columbia and southern Ontario, including Toronto, Engen says.
F12 Infinite provides the network infrastructure, application hosting, remote desktop access, cloud servers, and data management that grows with the business. There’s also 24/7 network support—accessed by hitting the F12 key, of course.
“It’s like buying a smartphone and the back end cellular infrastructure and data plans are simply part of the service,” Engen says. “It’s almost unlimited and customers don’t have to worry about things like next infrastructure upgrades, availability, or capacity.”
Built by a team
Engen led the development of F12 Infinite beginning in 2019, working with leaders and administrators in the sales, support, and tech teams to reimagine what business IT support should look like—and how they should be marketed.
That work continued as the COVID-19 pandemic arrived and teams began working remotely. They learned how to leverage Microsoft Teams to collaborate and found “a regular cadence” for weekly meetings, Engen says. As he led the development team and oversaw testing of F12 Infinite’s tools by a third-party, he says sales and business teams were also writing new user agreements and developing sales strategies.
Throughout the project, Engen says the business was guided by four principles—simplicity, safety, security and scalability. The premise of providing subscribers IT services for a monthly fee is simple enough, building off the traditional service plans the company offers.
“F12 Infinite leverages the latest cloud collaboration solutions built on the Microsoft 365 stack,” Engen says. “For many organizations this is an easy leap into innovating their workforce.”
He adds it includes next-gen Wi-Fi, advanced endpoint security, identity management, productivity reporting capabilities, and proprietary service automation.
“F12 Infinite has a number of different facets,” Engen says. “It’s not just in cloud or on-premises. It’s to provide solutions across the spectrum as an aggregator.”
New standards for cybersecurity
F12 meets SOC II cybersecurity standards and is also the first managed service provider to be certified by Cybersecure Canada, the federal program created to protect small and medium-sized organizations. Earning the certification requires implementing security controls, registering for the program, getting accredited and passing an audit, according to the CyberSecure Canada website.
“Cybersecurity is dynamic and always changing,” Engen says. “We have the approach that ensures continuous upgraded protection without charging customers for more.”
F12.net’s customers don’t need to take separate security measures when they subscribe to F12 Infinite. However, they do have to participate in data management workshops when they sign up, as Engen says it identifies what’s vital for customers while also tailoring encryption, security and recovery solutions for them.
“It’s all part of protection by default,” Engen says. “It assures the Canadian supply chain is protected and means subscribers do business with a certified company for the assurance of safety.”
At home at F12.net
Born in British Columbia, Engen first learned about computing sitting on his grandfather’s lap as a young boy—his grandfather was an entrepreneur who used a PC for business. When Engen was in high school in 1998, he dipped into his college saving and bought a computer—from F12.net, of course.
While he’s largely self taught, he also attended Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in 2004. After a stint as a tech support specialist for Dell in 2006, Engen joined F12.net as a technician in June of that year. He rose from the technician role to become a consultant and was named director of IT in February 2012. He became CTO in November 2019.
As F12 Infinite’s subscribers expand, Engen says he is proud to be part of a company that’s vowed to set its annual minimum salary at $70,000 by the end of 2022.
“We needed to get out of talking to the customers about gigabytes, megabytes, and CPUs,” he says. “Instead, we help them to focus on business outcomes while we take care of the technology.”
View this feature in the Winter II 2022 Edition here.
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