Recently I had a chance to read the book, “Hey! You! Get Onto my Cloud.” Written by Mike Lingo, the CTO and SVP of Field Operations at Astadia, the book is a fast and informative read that makes some very strong arguments for cloud computing. Today most organizations are no longer just experimenting with the cloud, but instead many companies, even the U.S. government, have a “Cloud First” policy. I’ve written before about how we’ve reached a cloud tipping point (I’ve heard some people actually call it a “ripping point” when it comes to on-premise applications and platforms!) as well as the need for “cloud control” in IT, so I followed up with Mike to get an update on what’s changed since his book was published in 2010.
Q: Mike, why did you write the book, “Hey! You! Get Onto My Cloud”?
Mike Lingo: “Hey! You! Get Onto My Cloud” was written to facilitate business conversations around the explosion of cloud solutions. About 18 months ago, we spent time documenting many different Astadia experiences in the field working with clients during the strategy and implementation phases of projects. We noticed several similarities within our client base – things really resonated with our clients as they started to make the fundamental transformation switch from on-premise customer homegrown built or packaged off-the-shelf applications to cloud-delivered solutions.
Ultimately, it’s about understanding where IT, the business and cloud intersect and triangulate in a place where a lot of the old visages of project delivery and thought process, mindset and methodology get stripped away to focus on the real value of solutions for businesses. That fundamental shift and change is what really has driven Astadia and our success over the last 10 years. We wanted to share those stories in a simple communication style to get the message across that the cloud isn’t something that’s unattainable, challenging or impossible, but does involve turning your head and looking at your business, technology and the style you used to implement projects, applications and solutions.
Q: What has changed since you wrote it?
Mike Lingo: Surprisingly one of the biggest changes is that we’ve seen a slower adoption on the IT side than I thought two years ago; however, ultimately that adoption is happening. From the IT perspective, cloud solutions are not scary, foreign or threatening to IT shops but really just another tool in their toolkit around how to deliver high value solutions that are well adopted.
The CIOs that have the most success delivering cloud have the most success in completely transforming their IT shape and nuances of their IT delivery mechanism and their IT support strategy into something that’s more of an innovation center that’s focused on the kind of innovation that drives serious revenue enhancement and cost avoidance. Those are the things that CIOs are demanding of the modern IT organization. It’s really crafted with more of business intent than IT has ever had.
After almost 25 years of working in IT, consulting and software, it’s a fundamental shift that’s genuine – the response from business to IT to cloud solutions is truly being embraced in a heartfelt manner to deliver solutions that they are fundamentally proud of and excited to get their teams focused around. This includes learning new skills, adapting to new paradigms, offering new innovative solutions to their teams and ultimately driving different kinds of business scenarios that weren’t even possible to think about five or 10 years ago.
Q: How important is data integration to cloud computing?
Mike Lingo: Fundamentally, we like to call data-driven process optimization the backbone of all the cloud solutions that we implement at Astadia. When it comes to dealing with the quality of data, if it isn’t integrated timely and accurately then processes really can’t be enabled or optimized. When you’re able to create a data-driven process backbone that’s optimized for your business objectives, then you can ultimately accelerate even more the timeliness and speed to market of cloud solutions and rapidly integrate teams, systems and business processes in ways that are faster than ever before.
The key around data is the classic fundamental concepts of integration and quality. When we look to our partner solutions like Informatica Cloud, they are the bread and butter of our go-to-market strategy on using the tried and true tools that we know are capable of delivering that successfully into each of our engagements.
Q: What’s your advice for CIOs who haven’t yet embraced the cloud?
Mike Lingo: First, immerse yourself in education. Talk to your peers that have had success. Find out where they were able to find opportunities within their business to successfully deploy cloud solutions and gain strategic advantage with some of their competitors, as well as manage some of the challenges on the cost side. You have to look at it as a fundamental overarching change management story across your whole IT team.
The landscape is changing. If you’re an IT organization that’s fundamentally sitting down and looking at a budget every year that’s 75 percent based on support of keeping the lights on and a group of applications that aren’t well adopted or supported by your business end users, then you’re on the wrong side of success. That means you need to have the mindset that you can create an entirely different perspective on the speed at which your team delivers solutions:
- The way they sit shoulder to shoulder and work with the business
- The speed to market at which you deliver
- The maintenance and governance aspects
- The freshness and utility of the modern tools and technology that the team knows how to deploy to solve business problems.
It’s not a silver bullet. You have to focus on people, change, strategy and business needs; but when you couple those with a sharp focus on the cloud, you get unparalleled success that we’ve seen from our best and brightest CIOs that have been our customers for years.
Q: What’s your advice for enterprise software companies who are mostly “cloud washing” their solutions today?
Mike Lingo: Ultimately, you need a strategy that supports a true cloud solution. Vendors are always going to try and build confusion in the market when they don’t have a strong technological story, especially when it comes to a cloud offering. Here’s how we’ve seen the smartest enterprise software vendors do it: With the cloud in mind, they’ve started from scratch building from the ground up. Those that have done that have seen the most success with Astadia in terms of the ability to integrate and deploy their solutions.
From an enterprise applications perspective, those vendors that have gone down a path trying to create hybrid or other approaches are those that we’ve chosen not to partner with because the challenge of watching them morph existing on-premise apps to hybrid or simply hosted solutions has been challenging for end customers. It’s challenging for enterprise software companies to cannibalize their product lines. The old adage “it’s better to cannibalize yourself before someone else does” comes into play for me – I think that’s the mentality that enterprise software companies need to have when it comes to building cloud solutions.
Q: What are you focusing on in 2012?
Mike Lingo: There are a number of things that Astadia is focusing on this year. First, we’ve seen an amazing increase in the subscription billing space. We’ve partnered heavily with Zuora to create some go-to-market strategies and intellectual property around that subject area. This has a lot of data integration and process behind it, which is needed to be successful and customers are hungry for that. We are focused more than ever on analytics, data integration and Big Data solutions. Data is king again for customers that have realized the pain of not paying attention to data over the last decade.
Additionally, we’re continuing to build out the intellectual property that Astadia brings to engagements with the robustness of our methodology around strategy, data, implementation, and change management and adoption. Those four pillars really represent the success we’ve experienced over the last decade, and we’re continuing to focus energy and time with clients on educating them on the larger deployment strategies. These strategies start with a business objective and end with an adoption and change management approach – the key to having unparalleled success.
And finally, we’ve continued to scale in the enterprise and work with larger clients and projects that scale to a global systems integrator level – those things are something that we are fundamentally proud of. As a specialized consultancy that’s focused on cloud, we’re able to go toe-to-toe with the largest system integrators in the world at an account level. That’s due to the investment and the hard work that we put into training our people, building out world-class methodologies and being insatiable about client success. When we focus on those three things, we find that in this space we can compete with anyone in the world.
Q: Thanks Mike! Best of luck in 2012. What’s the best way to get a copy of your book?
Mike Lingo: Thank you! Just visit Astadia.com or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Darren Cunningham is Vice President of Marketing at Informatica Cloud.