by Divina Paredes

In the cloud; busting the status quo, controlling the disruption

Jun 30, 2016
Big DataCareersCloud Computing

Startups can start with a clean sheet of paper. Enterprises forget it is actually within their power to do the same thing.Glenn Gore, AWS

The cloud will allow CIOs to challenge the status quo of the business they work in and control the disruption that is happening across industries, says Glenn Gore, head of technology, Amazon Web Services (AWS),Asia Pacific.

“When you move to the cloud and you are reinventing and transforming, it is a wonderful opportunity to challenge the status quo and actually ask, ‘why do we do it this way’?

“Just because you have been doing it for the last decade, does not mean you have to do it in the next decade,” says Gore, who delivered this message to more than 2000 customers and partners at the 2016 AWS Summit in Auckland.

“As a CIO, it is really important as you look to move and transform the IT organisation [that] you control the disruption,” he states.

“The cloud platform really empowers you to drive that change and have a big impact on the businesses you are working in.

“Often with organisations, processes, rules and standards have been built up over many decades,” he points out.

Startups do not have this technical debt to carry forward, he states. “They can start with a clean sheet of paper.Enterprises forget it is actually within their power to do the same thing in their own organisation.”

It is in the cloud though, where he sees the potential for CIOs to create opportunities for their organisations.

“The cloud is not slowing down. We have been seeing 64 per cent year on year growth,” declares Gore. “Cloud is really the new normal.”

Tim Dacombe-Bird – Regional Sales Director, AWS

Pretty much every conceivable workload is being uploaded to AWS.Tim Dacombe-Bird, AWS

Tim Dacombe-Bird, regional sales director, AWS,told the conference: “We have accelerated the pace of adoption, there are now tens of thousands of customers across Australia and New Zealand.”

AWS customers come from every market and every size, he says. “Pretty much every conceivable workload is being uploaded to AWS.”

Gore, meanwhile, notes AWS is one of the fastest growing companies, hitting $10 billion worth of revenue “in a disruptive market”.

“We have over one million active customers per month, with AWS having 10 times the compute capacity in use of 14 other cloud providers combined, says Gore .

“There is no compression algorithm for experience this type of scale brings learnings.”

He points out the cloud drive innovation across any industry, from health to airlines.

He cites Bristol-Myers Squibb that achieved 98 per cent reduction in time for clinic trials, while Qantas reduced flight planning from four months to four hours.

Gore invited some of AWS customers to talk about their organisations’ shift to the public cloud.

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It was a technology leap of faith.Robert Raines, New Zealand Defence Force

First on stage was Robert Raines, ERP architect at the New Zealand Defence Force.

Raines talked about moving the NZDF“mature ERP” to AWS public cloud, and the challenges and opportunities around the shift.

“We had exposure to AWS in the past,” he explains. Part of its HR team trained on ERP platform in the cloud.

“We removed all master data transactional data deemed sensitive, populated enough information to support the HR information and exported the whole thing to AWS,” he explains.

“It was a technology leap of faith. We saw the benefits of that capability to leverage this change in the organisation.”

Raines sums up the business case for the move to the cloud this way: “Being agile and responsive requires thinking and delivering on alternatives while reducing costs, addressing scalability and flexibility within a controlled environment.”

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The move to AWS and DevOps model increases the rate of innovation within the Xero product team and drives them into new areas like machine learningDuncan Ritchie, Xero

Duncan Ritchie, chief platform officer at Xero, says among the main drivers for its shift to the cloud were “aggressive goals” around platform agility, reliability, performance, security and cost, as well as the move to a DevOps model.

He says Xero looked at a bunch of public cloud providers and decided AWS “offered high breadth of infrastructure offerings that suited our aspirations for agility and flexibility”.

He says among the advantages they gained on the agility front, were reducing the time to provision servers from weeks to 20 minutes, and reducing the time to release new services from months to weeks.

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The company has also moved from hand-built servers to automate builds.

“These changes simplified our troubleshooting, he says. “They made it easy for us to make consistent changes and have a better view of what has changed, so if we have issues we can see what has changed.”

He says Xero is completing its migration to AWS in the next couple of months. The next step is optimisation of the cloud platform.

The move to AWS and DevOps model increases the rate of innovation within the Xero product team and drives them into new areas like machine learning, where teams can play with large sets of data cost effectively, says Ritchie.

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We did not want to spend our time on undifferentiated heavy lifting.Michael Koziarski, Vend

For Michael Koziarski, vice president, architecture at Vend, the company’s move to AWS was prompted by the realisation they were spending their time on “undifferentiated heavy lifting”.

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Consumer banking is one of the most disrupted sectors.Melissa Macfarlane, Westpac NZ

”We needed some CPU, but the provider could not provide a disk larger than one terabyte maximum or was offering an expensive option,” he states.

When they presented the business case that the move to the cloud would save Vend up to 50 per cent on its current systems, what was seen as a technology project became a key corporate initiative, he states.

The 200-year-old startup

Melissa MacFarlane, chief digital officer of Westpac, talks about how the cloud has allowed the bank to act like a “200-year-old startup”.

Consumer banking is one of the most disrupted sectors, she says.

The cloud is levelling the playing field, she says. Before, it would cost millions to set up a bank. Data plus connectivity is driving new business models, she states.

She says Westpac’s new business model has a two-pronged approach – great digital experiences and empowering conversations with customers.

She says they did this by investing agility into the organisation. They were also able to partner with New York based startup Moven, which they would not have been able to do if they were not with AWS.

AWS’s Glenn Gore says the cloud lowers the cost of failure, which increases innovation.

“If you can have an idea and test it in the cloud and it costs you a few dollars give it a go,” he states.

He contrasts this with the “old world” set up of needing $10,000 to $20,000 worth of equipment, which will require weeks to install and to wait for management “just to test an idea”.

Today, he says, AWS is the platform of choice for customers, whether a startup, enterprise, private sector, education and government.

Governments wants to have better ways to engage with citizens, he told those attending the AWS Summit.

The cloud is one of the ways they can get feedback, lower the cost of delivering services and improve relationships with citizens, which makes societies better, he states.

Gartner: Preparing the IT team for public cloud

‘If you can have an idea and test it in the cloud and it costs you a few dollars give it a go’ – Glenn Gore, AWS

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Follow Divina Paredes on Twitter: @divinap

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