FAST 50: Cloud Nine Tech leverages 8(a) to drive growth

Cloud Nine Technologies has used the 8(a) program as a starting point for its story of growth as it leverages analytics and predictive modeling capabilities to capture new customers.

Based on its name alone, the federal government IT contractor about to be described in this story should feel good about the place it finds itself in even though its story is far from complete.

Cloud Nine Technologies took the most significant step of its journey so far in year eight -- 2010 to be exact -- when the Herndon, Va.-based company received an 8(a) small business certification from the Small Business Administration.

Then the company started to bring in its first batch of prime contracts the following year, or year nine, Cloud Nine President Ranjeev Pamnani told Washington Technology. At least 95 percent of Cloud Nine’s work today is under prime contracts, Pamnani said.

But that initial move to get 8(a) certified “has been instrumental in helping us market ourselves and growing in the federal marketplace,” Pamnani said. “We were working as a subcontractor until 2010.

“We started to market our caps and reach out to customers more” after 2010, he said.

Cloud Nine Technologies comes in at No. 32 in the 2017 Washington Technology Fast 50 list of the fastest-growing small business contractors. The company recorded $9.1 million in revenue last year and has registered a 59.4-percent compound annual growth rate over the past five years.

Born in India, Pamnani moved to the U.S. in 1996 and started his career as a mainframe developer. He later took a software engineering job at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, an agency that would later factor in Cloud Nine’s story.

In a later role at Computer Sciences Corp., Pamnani started “seeing a lot of room for SBs to participate in federal contracts” and began to look at opportunities to start his own company.

“We made the conscious decision to go start (Cloud Nine) in 2003 and started to get access to the federal marketplace,” Pamnani said. “We knew about the technologies and domains being used at HUD.”

Fast forward to today and Cloud Nine’s four major prime contracting customers are HUD, the Federal Aviation Administration, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the National Institutes of Health. In addition, Pamnani told WT the company also does data analytics work for the Securities and Exchange Commission as a subcontractor.

The company’s three primary focus areas are data analytics support, contact center services and cloud technology implementations. The contact center-related work centers around the software development lifecycle and much if its cloud projects for federal agencies involve the Salesforce platform, he said.

Cloud Nine’s work at HUD in particular has given the company a growth platform for its data analytics portfolio. Pamnani told WT the company has seen increased demand in HUD for its statistical research modeling services to help the department’s policy research and development group.

“We not only look at current market trends at housing, we focus on future predictive modeling to see how data can be used to forecast or see early warnings in any risk area at the agency,” Pamnani said.

For CMS, the company is one of dozens with positions on the agency’s potential 10-year, $25 billion SPARC IT services vehicle. Cloud Nine is on the vehicle’s 8(a)-specific and general small business pools.

However, it is Cloud Nine’s work with NIH’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute that might be the most all-encompassing in the portfolio. Cloud Nine primarily focuses on helping the NHLBI implement a Salesforce platform and manage data with it.

“The government is big on open data and digitizing the information we have,” Pamnani said. To answer that trend, Pamnani said Cloud Nine is working with the institute to adopt new analytics technologies to help share both data and analytic capabilities with the public.

So with all the success so far, where does Cloud Nine go from here? Pamnani cited more government-wide contracts as tools in the company’s toolbox to grow. Footprints in the departments of Defense and Homeland Security are key, Pamnani said, as the White House has planned for increased spending at both agencies.

“Many agencies like DoD have a lot of contracts on those vehicles,” Pamnani said. “There are others we have bid on and we’re looking forward to bid on a couple IDIQ vehicles.”

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