Ahead of AWS re:Invent, Information Age spoke to the CEO of Cloudreach, Brooks Borcherding, about the company and its ambitions, his role and how he views the state of the cloud industry following the disruption caused by Covid-19.
Can you introduce the Information Age audience to Cloudreach?
Cloudreach, founded in the UK, is the world’s leading independent cloud services company. We’ve been around since 2009, since the origination of cloud in its early days and were one of the first AWS professional services delivery companies. Since then, we’ve also built practices around Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure — we’re now a multi-cloud services company.
Cloudreach has a comprehensive suite of services that range from upfront advisory and consulting services helping companies chart their path to the cloud, all the way through to platform development and migration.
We also have significant skills in cloud modernisation, which is focused around data analytics, machine learning and application modernisation, while also possessing a managed services capability to provide the ongoing support for cloud services on a 24/7 basis.
What is the current state of the cloud industry?
The cloud industry is at an inflection point, from the first generation of cloud adoption to the second generation of cloud adoption.
The focus of the first generation was mostly about shifting workloads from fixed infrastructure and data centres to this variable agile infrastructure in the cloud, and this drove much of the cloud migration work. However, there’s been a persistent question around the real value that’s been delivered for the customers.
As we move to the second generation of cloud, it’s really about delivering on the promise of the cloud. We’re able to achieve this for customers because we are cloud native by our nature. We can deploy the emerging innovations that are being brought rapidly to market by the platform providers, capture those new capabilities and deploy them on behalf of our customers to extract real value from the underlying platform.
This will be the driver for the second generation of cloud, which is where we’re seeing the real mass adoption starting to accelerate as we go through the next 10 years.
Has the pandemic accelerated cloud adoption?
Covid-19 has definitively accelerated cloud adoption and cemented a “cloud first” mentality across industries. Why? Companies slow to adopt cloud are constrained by the limitations of their fixed infrastructure including restricted access to data centres, ubiquitous access to applications and the ability to support their entire workforce from home. These companies hey now recognise that they cannot be caught in this situation again and are accelerating their cloud migration plans.We’re just starting to see this acceleration transpire and cloud adoption will continue at a very quick pace.
How important is it for organisation’s to adopt a multi-cloud strategy?
As the cloud industry matures, multi-cloud becomes the practical reality for many companies.
In many regards a common deployment scenario is that a company will initially deploy the bulk of their core workloads to AWS, who has the lion’s share of the marketplace. But then they may find that for specific workloads, Google Cloud or Microsoft Azure may delivers more optimal or efficient support for those particular workloads.
Every customer environment is unique. Thus the adoption of a multi-cloud strategy should be done on a customer by customer assessment of their particular infrastructure and needs.
What innovations are you expecting in the cloud marketplace?
I’m expecting to see a lot of innovations at the edge. In particular, I expect that AWS will continue to drive efficiencies for networking, security and database modernisation that will be embedded into the platform itself.
We expect our customers to enthusiastically embrace many of those innovations to drive efficiencies, agility and performance. Here’s my big bet for 2021 – this will be the year when companies commit to migration away from legacy Oracle databases to cloud native offerings at scale, which I predict will be a major theme of this year’s AWS reInvent conference.
We view the emergence of Snowflake as a fourth platform in this regard. Snowflake’s rapid adoption is a good case in point for the maturity of the cloud, especially from the perspectives of CTOs and CEOs, when they’re looking at how to best optimise the availability of the multiple services across the platforms for their particular needs.
Can you elaborate on the challenges of your role as CEO, especially in the context of the pandemic?
I’ve been running Cloudreach for just over a year. Looking back at when I joined in October 2019 the set of challenges has been far different to what I expected.
Covid-19 created a lot of complexity regarding our growth strategy because it created so much uncertainty in the marketplace. As a result, we have seen some of our traditional large customers pause and reflect upon what the economy means to them – they had to do some
financial belt tightening, for example, while we saw other industries rapidly drive cloud adoption or deploy new initiatives for connectivity for remote workers.
We also had to accommodate and care for our 650 employees. The good news was that we were already cloud native and had ubiquitous access to support remote employees. It was relatively seamless in terms of our ability to pivot and continue to deploy 100% of services to all of our customers.
At the same time, I and we as a company had to think about the personal impact of Covid-19 and find ways to help our employees adapt to the ‘new normal’. We had to recognise the stress of personal and work life balance, and accommodate accordingly.
We did this in a number of ways. First, we recognised the challenge of continuing to be effective and productive, while ensuring our employees’ mental wellbeing is not severely affected by the situation. We’ve taken that a step further with a comprehensive Covid response initiative at Cloudreach, which focuses on the three pillars of mental, physical and social wellbeing. These are being led by strong individual leaders within the organisation.
As an example, from the social wellbeing side, we had a ‘bring your kids to work’ day. Even though everyone was working from home, it was spectacular because it was a recognition that we were going to embrace this new normal. We put a whole schedule out of activities for children of different ages, to host them with their working parents for that day. It had a really meaningful impact because it left the kids with this impression of normalcy.
Finally, can you outline Cloudreach’s strategy for 2021?
We’re continuing to invest heavily in growth.
We do find ourselves in a very strong position right now and our commitment is to deliver the promise of cloud. We want to continue to leverage our cloud native capabilities and focus on delivering extraordinary value to our customers to differentiate ourselves in the marketplace.
We’re also seeing our focus on modernisation really stand out and be very well regarded in the market. This means we’ll be focusing on bringing automation to bear to make those much more efficient and rapid processes — things like automated data lake formations and templating, as well as extracting the value of machine learning capabilities, which are inherent in the platforms now to drive insights for companies. And per my prediction stated above, watch this space for dramatic acceleration of legacy database modernization.
Finally, from an employee perspective, we have and continue to create a culture and environment that allows people to be their true selves and fulfil their own aspirations. This is a way for us to attract and retain absolutely the best people in the industry.