Build products not data centres

Build products not data centres

Darragh Kennedy is no stranger to cloud transformation. At his previous post at Lonely Planet and in his current role as the Platform Engineering Manager at Zendesk, he has seen how cloud technology has completely transformed the speed, scale and scope of how businesses operate.

As he says: three months is the new three years.

Case-in-point: Instagram. Instagram has grown from one million users in 2010 to 150 million users in 2013. They became a one billion dollar company with only thirteen employees.

Cloud allows companies to amplify their business quickly. On the flipside it means that if a business wants to be competitive, then they need to ensure that they have an agile mindset. Kennedy notes that the cycle time is a crucial metric because customer expectations are becoming more demanding. He argues, that if you can’t keep up with the cycle, then you risk becoming static.

To put this into perspective, 1958, the lifetime of a company averaged 60 years, now that lifetime is merely 18 years.

So how do cloud systems ensure that your company can continue to evolve to meet these demands?

Kennedy establishes that cloud systems can play a crucial role in several key ways:

1. Infrastructure as a service journey

As Kennedy notes, ‘(cloud) software is eating the infrastructure, so that infrastructure is becoming the development process.’  This architecture, should be ideally designed with the following in mind:

  • design for failure (so that nothing fails)
  • design for dynamicism
  • harness the economies of scale
  • leverage a variety of storage options

2. Corporate IT

This refers to the way IT can now deliver good, intuitive usable software (which has never been really possible before). The market is seeing a hugely varied suite of SAAS products that can be quickly rolled to users. The systems are so nimble that they can be easily combined to create uniquely tailored ecosystems for business.

3. The transformation of the sales process

Kennedy remembers what a nightmare the technology sales process was before cloud. It was a very convoluted, sales-heavy negotiation that often involved several salespeople and a lot of back and forth, with limited clarity and transparency. Now a user can trial the system and do the research before engaging with the sales person. The business has a much better sense of the licensing model and they have a very good idea of the capability and the limitations of the product before signing on.

4. Training as a service

There are many training services affiliated with cloud software (and as Kennedy notes, these services are often free). By offering this training to your team, you can allow them to develop an area of expertise with relatively little investment.

Cloud investment: What are its capabilities?

Investment in cloud technology is on the rise. Last year Amazon spent $4 billion in one quarter. Big companies are building their own power stations and cloud submarine cables. This investment, argues Kennedy, has a big ramification for businesses: They demonstrates the what the possibility of the technology is, and secondly they dare smaller businesses to think laterally and become disruptors themselves.

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