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My 25-year journey with Microsoft

Anthony Stevens |

April 28, 2024
My 25-year journey with Microsoft

Audio version

My 25-year journey with Microsoft


Let me take a moment here. This month marks over 25 years of working with Microsoft, starting from my days as a cybersecurity engineer at Dimension Data, to the CEO of 6clicks. My journey has been filled with transformative projects and numerous leaps of faith.

Going back to the beginning

I’m sure many of you will be able to relate a few of the most memorable experiences:

  • Exploring BizTalk in the early 2000s: My venture with implementing BizTalk 2000 included a meeting with Scott Guthrie back when he was leading the product. This encounter offered invaluable insights and shaped my approach to technology integration and distributed networks.
  • Early days of Project Red Dog: Diving into the beginnings of what would become Azure was thrilling, though it came with the typical early-stage uncertainties—overestimating the long-term while being underwhelmed at the start. I vividly recall feeling ready to rewrite the IT playbook once the penny dropped on what we now know as cloud computing.
  • The Managed Operating Environment (MOE): The team embarked on what was effectively a joint venture between Lenovo and Microsoft aimed at streamlining the deployment of devices worldwide. The simple idea that you could receive a PC, turn it on, log in, and have it work seamlessly turned a dream into reality.
  • Pioneering with Office 365: As an early adopter of Office 365, back when it was known as Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), we tackled massive global deployments that brought new capabilities along with unexpected glitches. My team had the Redmond crew on speed dial.
  • Deploying early versions of Teams: Engaging with Microsoft Teams when it was still Office Communicator offered a fresh way to communicate, though the early issues and stability made for an interesting ride.

Cloud born on Azure

When we founded 6clicks, the choice of technology stack was straightforward. Our target market was enterprise customers, advisors, and managed service providers, and the Microsoft brand and integration approach made the most sense. 6clicks was cloud-first—not just hosted in Azure, but built on Azure services. It’s given us scale and efficiency benefits galore.

AI and NLP

In 2020, soon after founding 6clicks, we were buried in machine learning and natural language processing. This time marked the birth of Hailey (our AI engine) using a further stack of what was then Azure capabilities. This wasn't just adopting new technology—it was about embracing the future as it unfolded. We launched Hailey, transforming how cyber, risk and compliance professionals cut through complexity.

Read more about Hailey backstory here.

Introducing Hailey GPT

We were an early adopter of OpenAI's generative AI capability with Hailey GPT and did a heap of work thinking through the practical application of this technology to our platform. However, this move wasn't just about leveraging new technology; it was about making cyber, risk and compliance much more intuitive and approachable.

Learn more about Hailey GPT’s impact

Unveiling Hailey Assist: the biggest opportunity I see

Over the past 18 months, a large amount of my time has been devoted to the strategy behind Hailey Assist, a new capability we launched earlier this year. For the technologists, it combines cutting-edge retrieval-augmented generation technology with Azure Search and a mashup of data and classification engines. For the geek inside – very cool. More recently, I’ve been working through where this will go and exploring some emerging models that will 10x the capability (it will all remain secret for now).

See Hailey Assist in action here

6clicks Fabric: a game-changer

As mentioned, we went ‘straight to the cloud’ with 6clicks. We now run more than a dozen instances of 6clicks around the world to cater for data sovereignty and jurisdictional requirements. To make this easier, we orchestrated the whole platform as code (infrastructure-as-code). This means now, we offer our bigger customers the ability to run 6clicks on their own private Azure cloud anywhere from New York to Tokyo—local compliance, global reach, all on their terms. And now, it’s all available via the Azure Marketplace which means deployment and configuration takes just hours.

Understand the possibilities for GSI's with 6clicks Fabric

Thanks and gratitude

My thanks and gratitude for the opportunity to work with many fine leaders at Microsoft over the years. The technology landscape will continue to evolve, and I look forward to more innovations, collaborations, and impactful moments. Here’s to the next chapter! 🚀🎉

Anthony Stevens

Written by Anthony Stevens

Ant Stevens is a luminary in the enterprise software industry, renowned as the CEO and Founder of 6clicks, where he spearheads the integration of artificial intelligence into their cybersecurity, risk and compliance platform. Ant has been instrumental developing software to support advisor and MSPs. Away from the complexities of cybersecurity and AI, Ant revels in the simplicity of nature. An avid camper, he cherishes time spent in the great outdoors with his family and beloved dog, Jack, exploring serene landscapes and disconnecting from the digital tether.