In a conversation on the Technology Association of Georgia’s “Tech Talk” program, Lume CEO Kyle Verzello discusses some of the trends in IT infrastructure and the challenges that CIOs face when selecting the right type of cloud infrastructure and provider.
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A transcript of the conversation is included below. Some questions and answers have been edited or modified for clarity.
Q: (Frank Baia) Can you give us a general perspective on cloud infrastructure and technology. Where is it at now and where is it going?
A: (Kyle Verzello) I think we’re certainly in an era where cloud is generally accepted as a go-to strategy. We’re in a ‘cloud-first’ world. I think one of the challenges with that though for the majority of businesses, particularly when you think about traditional industries, medical, legal, financial services, is how do we really get there? There’s still a lot of what we call legacy applications and workloads that run on premise and data centers that aren’t really built to live in that cloud world. The way we view the market today is there’s still a lot of transitions happening and a lot of companies trying to define what ‘cloud’ means for them. How do they get to the cloud to take advantage of what we call consumption-based IT.
You mentioned legacy applications and legacy infrastructure. For companies that are happy with their legacy systems (hosted on premise) can they survive without migrating those workloads to the cloud?
The reality is that their business would probably be okay. But for how long, is really the question. And what are the opportunity costs from not making that change?
I think one of the things that has evolved for IT is not being an isolated expertise, which is really the origin story of IT. Now, it’s a much more integrated part of the organization and of the strategy and has financial impact, operational impact, as well as compliance, and security. And so viewing it as a more holistic piece of the business is a challenge of IT leaders and IT operators today. It’s cliché to say that IT has always been viewed as a cost earner, but really, it can be a great enabler of the user experience that a company is trying to generate.
I think it’s advantageous for IT leadership and operators to look at how they can increase that value. Sometimes, that can be a little intimidating or new or unwanted. But I think it’s gonna be necessary for businesses going forward.
“For a business, there’s no competitive advantage to doing what a good provider can do for you. So spend your money on internal IT resources that make you unique, that really add value to your business and give you a competitive advantage in the marketplace.”
The position of the CIO has evolved. They’re responsible for so much now. Can they do it alone? I would think they would need relationships, trust, and subject matter experts to help them deal with the various aspects of their position and make the recommendations on infrastructure and technology that will have a major impact on the business and plan for the future. How do CIOs stand the test of time?
To your point, it comes down to, what are the goals and objectives of the business and how does IT play into that? And I think what we’re seeing in the evolution of in-house IT is away from what you might call ‘mundane tasks’. It’s servers, storage, networking. Really, it’s about applications and user experience and that’s really what CIOs today are being asked to do.
They’re being asked to focus on those applications, whether they’re for productivity, in-house employees, or user experience to end users and customers – and the things that are really the value add, revenue driving activities in the company.
I really think that’s how cloud has started to take a place in the relationship with businesses. It’s allowing internal teams to be focused on what is unique to their business and let the things that aren’t unique, patching, hardware replacement, power to the data center be outsourced to a provider. For business, there’s no competitive advantage to doing what a good provider can do for you. So spend your money on internal IT resources that make you unique, that really add value to your business and give you a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Regarding the inevitable commoditization of some infrastructures (i.e. public clouds), what are some of the trends that you see that CIOs and others will have to be sensitive to and address regarding cloud and data center infrastructures, over the next two to five years?
I think, to your point about commodity, if public clouds and elastic clouds have taught us anything, is that infrastructure really is a commodity.
If we’re in a conversation with a potential customer and we’re talking to their CEO, he doesn’t talk about the server or the storage. His conversation is going to be around applications. And again, going back to my earlier point, if that’s what’s unique to their business, then that’s what they care about.
A basic example would be email. I think about receiving my communication. As an everyday user, I don’t think about the server that’s supplying that. And that is what makes infrastructure a commodity. It really is the medium upon which applications and data are delivered. And so, where does that take us in the marketplace? And we have the large public cloud providers, Amazon and Microsoft and Google, but not everybody is built for that world. Not all applications are created for that type of architecture.
So, how do we move to that application-oriented, data-focused world and consume infrastructure as a commodity? There are other options than just public clouds. That’s where we view the market, is that there are other infrastructure options available in a consumption model that can be more customized or more specific to that business’s needs that can be consumed in the marketplace.
The market’s going to adjust to providing what businesses need. And 10, 20 years from now, will all applications be rewritten to be in a fully elastic model? I don’t know, but from what we know from edge computing and Internet of things and these other high network, demanding technologies, is that there’s still a lot of evolution to take place.
There’s also the aspect of speed of adaptation. I’m sure some businesses are more quick, or hesitant, to migrate to the cloud. I would assume that some might experiment with one application or area first. Is that correct?
Yeah, absolutely. We see most businesses do it step by step. They might move a workload or a specific application and leave other things running as is. And that’s the beauty of this model, it’s not an all-or-nothing. It’s okay to move a little bit or move a specific part of the business into that cloud model and test it.
What we tell clients is that it’s not necessarily one right answer for everything. One application, or one function, may work with one infrastructure, and another one with a different infrastructure. And so the challenge for today is, how can you consume those different architectures, different models, but maintain overall management and not have that be overly burdensome? That’s all part of our Cloud Anyware™ solution model.
From the outside looking in, it seems that a step by step approach is really ideal. Do you provide any migration strategies or assistance for your customers that are looking to move to the cloud?
We do. At Lume, we’ve developed what we call a Cloud Fit Model™. It’s a set of questions that allow for the analysis of the applications and workloads that a company. Based on that criteria, we can suggest which infrastructure types are used for which application and workload. And cloud is just one of the ways that infrastructure can be utilized.
It requires triangulating on the cost model that the company wants to consume. That’s things like:
- Do they have capital that they want to buy equipment with, or are they looking for an operating expense model month to month?
- Are there any compliance or security constraints?
- Are there performance requirements?
- What are the operational capabilities or capacities of the company?
Once you can triangulate in on some of those questions, you can really understand what the right infrastructure option is for you. It may be Microsoft Azure or it may be a private cloud. We see often clients find colocation as the right option: you own the equipment, but you’re outsourcing it into the data center and we manage it. The reality is that small businesses have the same challenges that large businesses do. The spend is not as large, but they still are application and technology dependent and need a cost-effective way to operate that and have reliability and security, top of mind.
There are a number of companies that provide similar services as Lume. What are you doing that you think helps you compete in the marketplace and come out successful on the other side?
Good question. For us, successful clients means successful Lume. We really focus our conversations on what the company that we’re working with needs. And the concept of our model that we call Cloud Anyware™ is that there isn’t one right answer for every company or every situation.
Our portfolio services and edge data center location have been built with the specific purpose of opening up a full range of infrastructure options, colocation, private cloud, public cloud, and helping from an architectural and planning perspective. Helping our customers be successful by identifying and then creating a solution around which one or many of those need to be combined for their situation.
We do have lots of good competitors in the marketplace and there are lots of options. And as that infrastructure continues to become a commodity, companies are gonna look to augment their internal capabilities and experience, and as they become more focused on applications. They’re going to need a good partner who they can count on and who can couple with them to manage or co-manage their environments. We feel we’re well-positioned to do that through taking the time to listen and evaluate that situation with them and then allow them not just one solution, but access to all the solutions that may make up the right architecture for them.
Can you give us a little insight on what the future holds for Lume? And how a person can contact you if they want to learn more?
The future is bright for Lume. We’re continuing to add data center locations. We believe that the edge is really critical, whether that’s for compliance, security, performance, and giving the marketplace options for where their applications and data live. This year, we’re expanding in Phoenix, Arizona, Dallas, Texas, and in the Northeast, in the Tri-state area, on top of our existing global footprint. The future’s bright for us, and this is a proven model that companies are looking to take advantage of, to augment their internal capabilities, and to become more focused. But if you wanna learn more, you can reach us at lumecloud.com and we’re always happy to help.
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