The Orasi Story
As an early advocate for technology innovation and automation, Orasi evolved from being a leading provider of test automation solutions and consulting to a recognized force in strategic solutions that accelerate DevOps delivery pipelines. Well before either, the early experiences of Orasi President and CEO Nick Kavadellas and his team molded the foundation for its current success. Here, Nick shares the history of his company and its founding, as well as the values that have driven Orasi and its personnel then, and now.
The Orasi Story
Driving Innovation in Software Delivery
By Nick Kavadellas
Orasi Founder, President and CEO
Why the name Orasi?
Orasi is a Greek word that means “vision.” Today, we strive for a visionary attitude as we work to help clients produce better software. Despite these goals, the impetus for our name was much simpler. I wanted it to reflect my Greek heritage but be easy to pronounce.
We knew immediately Orasi was perfect, because the meaning supports our philosophy of taking a farsighted approach in all we do.
Spring of 2020 has become an unprecedented time, as the world grappled with the reality that it would be deeply impacted by COVID-19 – better known as the Coronavirus. With everyone working from home for the first time in the history of Orasi, it gave me time to reflect on the last 18 years.
When someone asks me, “How did Orasi get to where it is today?” I think, “Got a few hours?” Unlike technology firms born of a single inspiration, Orasi’s story is one of many people and iterations. Today, we are a DevOps strategy and solutions firm, but our origins lie in the early days of modern software innovation.
Orasi’s history began in the late 1980s after I graduated Georgia Tech. I was coaching Middle School Football at Sprayberry High School when Jim Peeler, the father of one of my players, said “You should get into the software business.” He invited me to his house the following weekend to educate me on the software industry and prep me for an interview with his company. His coaching was excellent, because I was hired after my first interview.
Back then, I had no idea Orasi would blaze new trails in DevOps delivery. I was a young man employed at Computer Associates, where I met Orasi’s future Sr. VP and CTO Jim Azar and Sr. VP of Sales and Marketing Mark Lewis. Although we went separate ways shortly thereafter, the bond that connected us never wavered. Over the next few years, I would meet and work with an array of technology pros, all of whom became pivotal to Orasi’s lasting success.
In 1991 I went to Knowledgeware, where Mark Lewis joined me and our team scored the largest deal in the firm’s history. While there, we met and started working with several talented IT pros who were later involved with Orasi’s founding and success. Orasi’s future AVP of Operations Gary Janos and AVP of Emerging Technology Joe Schulz both worked there, as did future (now retired) Orasi Senior Director of Software Services Development Larry Boldt.
More than coworkers, we all became friends. After the company experienced a downturn, Joe, Larry, Mark and I left in 1994 to form a new company, Technology Builders, Inc. (TBI) along with future Orasi CTO Jim Azar. Karl Rubin, future Orasi COO, joined TBI in September 1997 to add depth to our management team.
TBI initially partnered with firms to resell their software, but we saw a market to create add-on development and testing solutions. Our efforts resulted in CaliberRM, a software requirements management tool that became one of our most lasting achievements at TBI. It and other achievements fueled the growth of the firm, which eventually consisted of a sizeable team – many of whom would later join us at Orasi.
Caliber would become (and still is) a Micro Focus offering. It joined the product line when Micro Focus acquired Borland, which had initially purchased rights to the product. More importantly for Orasi, Caliber got us started down the road to software innovation and our biggest idea yet. After Caliber, we decided to pivot back to selling automated testing tools, realizing that the combination of our expertise and the market environment would give us an edge with them. The inspiration for Orasi was born.
After raising startup funds from friends and family, and recruiting fellow TBI’ers Bill Hayden and Richard Galloway and software testing expert Brad Purcell, we launched Orasi on May 1, 2002. Mark Lewis joined us later that month, and we reengaged with our TBI client base and expanded reseller partnerships and alliances. Our strategy was to help clients identify and leverage the right toolsets to achieve their software goals.
Our team and our revenue grew, as many former members of the TBI team rejoined us at Orasi. David Rumley (current VP of Support) and Caleb Billingsley were founding members, coming aboard in September 2002. In 2003, we welcomed Jim Arnold (March), Rick Huffman (August), and Jenna Stam (September).
One of my personal mantras then and now was, “If you do what you say you will, you’ll eliminate 80% of the competition.” Soon, that tactic paid off. In 2004, Mercury Interactive named us Solutions Partner of the Year. That same year, we welcomed back Joey Biddy, (March) Kimberly Humphrey (April) and Karen Spencer (July). Larry Boldt rejoined the Orasi team in September 2004, as did Karl Rubin. Karl’s return also marked a personal milestone for me. Karl and I had played high school baseball and football together and have been friends since 3rd Grade!
Enlarging Our Footprint
In 2008, we grew Orasi’s scope with our Greensboro, NC, facility, providing client consulting, training and quality assurance in a rural sourcing model that provided our customers with an offshoring alternative. We later expanded our training offerings with an online software training center, Orasi University.
Over the next two years, the first signs of our future market shift emerged. In 2011, we began branding and selling HP’s cloud-based, on-demand performance validation solution. Former TBI’er Gary Janos rejoined us in June of that year. In 2012, we welcomed Joe Schulz back to lead the launch of our Mobile Testing Services division.
Despite our successes, Orasi leadership recognized that testing services had become unimaginative – a commodity. Devoted to the leading edge, we knew Orasi was ready for a new chapter. With consumers driving demand for faster delivery of quality software, and legacy approaches causing software failures, DevOps was coming into its own.
In scrum-like fashion, our teams detected critical resistance points and goal impediments, then identified the solutions our clients needed to succeed — from continuous flow and automation/virtualization to app security and the cloud.
A Major Transformation Takes Flight
The next few years kept us busy pursuing great ideas. In 2016, we formed a joint venture, partnering with a leading app security firm to form Saltworks Security. In 2017, we hired DevOps authorities Richard White and Terry Brennan. In 2018, we spun off our global testing services. Leveraging our strong partnerships with automation, performance, and continuous flow solution providers, we roared into DevOps at full speed.
Today, with our purpose of “Ensuring confidence in your DevOps journey,” we continue to expand our DevOps offerings in pursuit of a central goal: helping clients achieve wildly successful outcomes with software teams, tools and technology.
Always Give More than You Take
Companies and their founders don’t succeed in isolation. I started Orasi on the belief that confident, driven people make strong teams, and that those types of people also do great things to help others, a core value here at Orasi. Our senior technology staff regularly mentors passionate young professionals, coaching them to be their best selves.
We also team up with local high school football programs to make a difference in our community. After 15 years coaching, I hung up my whistle, but I continue to serve as President of the Cobb Football League, Treasurer of the Georgia Middle School Athletic Association and Treasurer of the Kell Touchdown Club. Orasi sponsors events like the Cobb County Touchdown Club and the Kell Annual Golf Tournament.
Trust and Relationships Are at the Core of Everything
I’m proud that so many people I have worked with – especially within the TBI team – are still together after all these years, guiding Orasi into a very bright future. That must be a pretty rare achievement in IT, because our colleagues frequently compliment us on the unique strength and longevity of our bonds. We are grateful for it, and for each other.
Whether in professional or personal life, I have always believed that no one achieves greatness on their own. We do it by constantly growing and developing our teams and relationships… and we always will.