Smart CEOs Have their Heads in the Cloud

Saran Mandair, VP of Production Operations & Site Reliability, YapStone
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Saran Mandair, VP of Production Operations & Site Reliability, YapStone

Ever since Edward Snowden leaked the details of the U.S. government’s privacy breach, the country has been obsessed with security–particularly individuals who work in tech. A CEO’s worst nightmare is a data breach and Apple’s recent battle with the FBI illustrates just how real that is.

This kind unwavering commitment to privacy is why so many companies wouldn’t dream of using the public cloud a year ago. However, when Netflix announced closing its data centers and moving entirely to the public cloud, tech companies big and small sat up and took note.  A year later, leading-edge companies are ditching their private-only cloud strategies for a more robust hybrid solution, consisting of both the private and public cloud.  

This is evoking an array of positive trends across a multitude of industries--allowing users to operate at unprecedented levels of speed and efficiency. Companies that understand emerging cloud trends are leveraging them as an unfair advantage over their competitors, but it’s a bit of a process. In fact, it took Netflix almost eight years to finish the migration, as they wanted to move all of their movies and internal IT support services to the cloud. Their dedication and perseverance was tested multiple times throughout this journey whenever an AWS outage impacted their availability and ignited a negative roar from the critics. Netflix’s cloud engineering team rightly gauged the long-term benefits of the public cloud and generated 1,000 times their monthly streaming hours.

‚Äč  Providing agility to internal and external customers is a need and leveraging cloud enables this capability 

Explosive growth is certainly an incentive to switching to the public cloud, but here are some other trends you should be also aware of:

Enterprise Agility

Any enterprise, big or small, needs to provide agility to their business in very short innovation cycles. Not all ideas will be home runs, but a technology platform or framework needs to be enabled for very rapid innovation. During my Paypal days, it would take lot of paperwork and attending multiple meetings for a minor change. The cloud now enables scaling up or down for thousands of servers without comprising any logging needs for PCI/SOC or other compliance needs. Providing agility to internal and external customers is a need and leveraging cloud enables this capability.

Increased Innovation

Large technology firms like Google, Amazon and Microsoft are among the biggest R&D spenders due to increased adoption of the public cloud, according to a new study by Strategy&. Spending money on custom solutions is expensive upfront, requires a lot of man hours to maintain, and will be obsolete very rapidly. An investment by the major cloud providers, however, presents an opportunity for innovative companies to leverage the more powerful public cloud features for their business’ agility and availability.

Tighter Security

There has been a significant investment in making the public cloud secure, since it now serves a wide spectrum of customers. In my informal conversations with CIOs, I’ve learned that some of the major public technology firms in Silicon Valley already have public cloud projects in flight or are planning to in very near future. One of them is a very well known security company that is finalizing their execution to move the majority of their workloads from internal private cloud to a public cloud.

TCO (Total Cost of Ownership)

Budget leaders have the fiscal responsibility to ensure the business gets the optimal bang for the buck. One of the reliable cost efficiency enablers, Moore’s Law, for the IT enterprises might be coming to an end; the increased competition among the public cloud has just started and will continue in the short-midterm. The key to exploiting the cost efficiencies will be architecting cloud strategy in a way that various cloud providers can be leveraged without impacting the availability and agility that the business needs. This provides an excellent opportunity for innovative companies to roll out new products, while reducing their costs on a daily basis.

Talent

The work required in future will be less on racking, stacking and imaging computers. It will shift to higher value services like scaling the public cloud up and down to meet the business needs, while optimizing the expense of the allocated cloud budget.  

In this world, the demand for talent will shift from deep System Administration skills to Cloud Administrators or DevOps that work with the application/product teams in enabling value add to the enterprise. The skill set also will shift from fixing a single computer at a time to disposable computing where one “dead” machine will be migrated to another machine from the available capacity. The future cloud talent force will be constantly learning new applications/services or automation frameworks that will evolve rapidly and in this ever changing landscape.

In the future, leaders will need to distinguish from commodity services to value added services. Netflix rightfully demonstrated that their decision on outsourcing the data center to the public cloud and having their team focus on the value added services. This was obviously the right focus and it provided significant dividends to their business growth. The public clouds are not fad and have proven to accelerate the innovation and the agility that businesses need.

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