Why I'm joining Cloudsoft

The second most important reason why I'm joining Cloudsoft is the alignment of the planets that represent cloud computing, the Second Machine Age, the Third Platform, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, DevOps, infrastructure as code, more automation, businesses moving up the stack away from undifferentiated heavy lifting

There’s something big happening, and fast.

In my humble opinion, Cloudsoft operates in the middle of this change. It has a unique mix of product, services, people, direction and velocity to help a wide range of organizations not just cope with the change, but aggressively exploit change, from startups to global multinationals.

By help I don’t just mean cope with these trends and events, I mean aggressively exploit them.

Over the past five years, I’ve witnessed and been inside of a number of industry events that have created a what I visualize as cloud flywheel. This cloud flywheel is getting faster and more irresistible over time, increasing in speed (CAGR of 30%+) and size ($400bn by 2020).

Article: Bernard Golden on the growth of AMG (Amazon, Microsoft, Google).

Cloud and change don't have to be scary. It has been said:

“A rising tide lifts all boats.”

but there is a cheeky corollary for those not "on the cloud bus" (but might soon be under it):

“When the tide goes out we find out who was wearing trunks.”

All of these industry changes are complications for business. Complications can impact different people and organizations in different ways, measured in: time, money, errors, barriers, opportunities, success, failure, frustration, pain and anguish. There are emerging practices and patterns that are smoothing these out for those willing to learn and adapt.

For example, hybrid cloud as a term has been around (and abused) for years, but today I and others see two perspectives of hybrid cloud based on the root and direction of cloud control and dominance --- is the root out-of-the-cloud or in-the-cloud?

  1. Old school: The familiar hybrid cloud model of on-premises (you buy stuff for your datacenter) as the root of an organization’s cloud, with public clouds as elastic leaf nodes. Control systems live on-premises.
  2. New school: The emerging hybrid cloud model of public cloud (you rent someone else’s stuff in their data centre) as the root of an organization’s cloud and on-premises makes up the leaf nodes. Control systems live in the cloud.

Whichever side of the cloud fence you sit on (past vs. now/future), Cloudsoft can help with both of these models of hybrid cloud. How Cloudsoft achieve this is by blueprinting and coding from the perspective of application down, not infrastructure up.

If you are building from infrastructure up, like from hypervisors or specific clouds, then you become specific to those and will struggle to "horizontally adapt" across the variable and moving landscape. You likely use cloud-specific tools, or maybe cross-cloud tools like Ansible, Terraform and other infrastructure-as-code tools and now want to move them "up the stack" to manage applications.

We at Cloudsoft think it's better doing it business-centric, not provider centric, and application down, not infrastructure up. Getting this right unlocks big gains in productivity, and it changes how you work. This is a non-trivial problem that everyone is going to have in the cloud.

How? Cloudsoft favours human-readable blueprints and intelligent automation and integrations from the application-down to manage this problem. Under the covers, the projects and products that deploy, monitor and manage your applications in this complex and moving world are Apache jclouds, Apache Brooklyn and Cloudsoft AMP.

But is all of this needed, or is it a nice to have?

I’ve enjoyed working with a range of companies on cloud projects from small ten person startups to global multinationals including the United Nations, and I see this as a growing need. I've learned about this need by helping customers overcome barriers.

Here are typical barriers to the cloud that I know Cloudsoft can help customers overcome:

  1. How can our applications consume clouds easier? Cloud is complex, where do I find the expertise?
  2. How do we build and deploy our applications faster, and experiment?
  3. How do I help non-cloud humans, like security, understand how our applications work on the clouds?
  4. How do we do the grown-up cloud stuff, like monitoring, managing, billing, security?
  5. How do we do this across multiple-clouds, including hybrid to on-premises?

A specific example of overcoming these barriers is the need for organizations to provide “cloud guardrails”: how do lesser-trained users consume cloud without hurting themselves and the organization? The internet is awash with bad cloud experience stories, where it's the human element that has caused the problem.

Data scientists shouldn't have to be AWS, Azure or Google Certified Professionals to help Genome sequencers find cures for cancer.

Modern service catalogues can help, but they need a blueprinting engine like Cloudsoft AMP to work in the complex cloud.

In a cloudy nutshell, I can have more fun and help more customers exploit cloud and other megatrends by being at Cloudsoft. That isn't complicated.

Why the COO role?

I’ve always enjoyed roles where I’ve had one foot at HQ and one foot on the front line where the customers are, passing learnings to-and-fro.

That's my history as a "bridging" consulting engineer, a professional services consultant, as a presales manager and a CTO. I love helping customers, even (perhaps preferring?) the challenging ones! This bridging role is my wheelhouse, and taking on the COO role and being a leading customer advocate at Cloudsoft is exactly that role.

This brings me to the primary reason that I wanted to join Cloudsoft: the people.

I can't help anyone or fix anything by myself. In the past, I've done best when working with a great team and I need a great team now. At Cloudsoft I get the opportunity to work with a top class engineering team, customers and partners to get the most from Cloudsoft AMP and to help shape a new and complimentary proposition to help SMEs move their applications to the cloud.

I am particularly looking forward to working with Cloudsoft’s leadership team: CEO Ross Gray, CTO and co-Founder Alex Heneveld, VP Engineering Aled Sage and FD Anél Jansen.

Why now?

I’ve explained the industry events that are like planets aligning, but at the end of the day, there are personal reasons why now is an ideal time for me to join Cloudsoft.

Joining Cloudsoft now is unique opportunity to do a job I enjoy, with people I respect, in an industry I know, in a city I love.

But before I end, this announcement wouldn’t be complete without a mention for my previous employer, Strategic Blue, who in my view is up there with the best.

CEO James Mitchell, and COO, Mike Smith, two people who have taught me even more as to what customer obsession and leadership integrity is. CTO, Paul Wilson, who is one of the brightest and funniest people I know, to Carolyn the amazing finance veep, and the Dev Team of Cloud Procurement analysts like “double macchiato” Tom and the Oxford super-brain Priya, Ali G :) and my fellow Rake-mate Mike, and Peter and Aleda. There are no passengers at Strategic Blue: all are excellent people and I predict a huge future them because they are doing something unique in the industry around cloud finance and operations.

And best wishes to Frank Contrepois who will be replacing me at Strategic Blue. Frank is a special individual! Like me, he’s a lifelong learner and he’s full of energy. He’s a brilliant hire for Strategic Blue, and it’s a great place for him to move forward.