Bold steps on the journey to the cloud

CBTS offers deep expertise on cloud strategies

January 25, 2018
Brandon Bowman

Brandon Bowman is the Vice President and Principle of Cloud Services for CBTS, where he leads an organization that is helping customers develop and execute strategies that leverage both private and public cloud environments to drive business outcomes. Brandon has more than 20 years of experience working with large, global organizations in areas that include commercial software development, cyber security, identity and access management, compute operations, and platform hosting.

Immediately prior to joining CBTS, Brandon was an executive IT leader holding leadership positions at General Electric for eight years. Today, Brandon regularly meets with customers to better understand their cloud and computing needs. Brandon’s team designs both traditional and emerging based technologies solutions to fit customer needs tied to business outcomes. Brandon’s team has expertise in private cloud environments, and also with the three major public providers: Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and the Google Cloud Platform.

At a high level, why are enterprise organizations embracing the cloud?

First, organizations want to focus internal resources on their core business. Managing data centers is not a strategic priority for most companies. They want somebody else to manage that piece for them – hopefully at a lower cost, and with less commitment and burden to them as an organization.

Second, organizations want to minimize or eliminate large capital expenditures and long-term commitments to hardware. It is risky to spend $5 million on hardware based on what you think you’ll need in the future. That’s the old way of doing IT. Companies want a model where they only pay for what they consume.

Finally, businesses are focused on outcomes. They want their internal IT resources to focus on innovation. They want visibility into the relationship between the cost of applications and outcomes such as customer attraction, revenue, and cost savings.  In many cases, private clouds give them the necessary flexibility, agility, and speed to accomplish these goals.

Do you see common themes as you talk to customers about the cloud?

Customers will always have infrastructure that’s on-premises or in a private cloud. Let’s say you’re a jet engine manufacturer, and you’ve got servers on the shop floor that support applications like running a drill press. That scenario is not a good candidate for the public cloud.

What customers want are strategies that leverage the public cloud when it makes sense. Maybe you’re a financial institution and are analyzing Big Data for annuity projections. That project is a good candidate for the cloud, because you don’t need the same physical proximity and on-prem infrastructure that a manufacturer needs to build the jet engine.  Also, customers might have applications that are only used at specific points of the year or season, another example where the public cloud may make the best sense for a customer.

Customers understand that their legacy infrastructure can be like owning a van if you only have one person to drive around – you are paying for more resources than you need. In a public cloud environment, you only pay for what you use.

What are some high-level benefits of a company moving app development into the cloud?

Again, businesses are focused on outcomes. So let’s say a company wants to develop an app that it believes will drive additional revenue. In the old world, that company would first have to find an available server, which might take weeks or even months. Once the app was built, the environment might only support releasing new code for the app once a month.

Today, that business can spin up an environment in a well-designed private or public cloud environment in hours or minutes. The business can start building and testing the app right away. Once the app is released, the business can update the code that supports the app every day. And, it knows exactly what that app costs. This is a critical problem for many traditional organizations, which struggle to articulate an exact cost of an application on a monthly basis.

Suppose the app doesn’t deliver the expected value relative to its cost. The customer can spin down the environment immediately and move on to the next project. The customer isn’t tied to a lease, and didn’t purchase an expensive piece of hardware.

How is CBTS helping customers develop a cloud strategy?

We help customers assess what they have, develop a strategy for where they want to go, and define a roadmap for getting there.

Nobody snaps their fingers and says, ‘I’m closing all of my data centers tomorrow and moving everything to the public cloud.’ The majority of customers will always some infrastructure that’s on-prem. This process requires a tremendous amount of expertise.  This is where CBTS can help.

CBTS is agnostic in the sense that we can help customers run applications on-prem, in a data center, or in a public cloud, or we can help them do all of those things. Today we have a series of customers in this exact situation.

And we can help customers move applications that had been on-prem into the cloud. That’s a complex networking challenge, and networking is of course a core competency at CBTS.

Why don’t large organizations handle this work themselves? Why are they partnering with CBTS?

Doing it yourself is like going into Home Depot and saying, ‘I want to build a house.’ Home Depot has everything you need to build a house, but no one person can do it themselves.

CBTS is like a general contractor for both private and public cloud environments.  And, we have the ability to manage on prem; we have the ability to manage in the cloud; we have the ability to manage the network in between; and we have other resources that can help with the applications that consume the underlying compute power.

The ongoing challenges are complex. It’s a decision tree. We help clients assess their environment, and then make recommendations based on everything from financial goals to desired outcomes and strategic initiatives.

Can you share an example of how CBTS is helping a customer navigate this space?

We have a customer with 1,600 servers in two data centers. The customer’s leadership team wanted to shut the data centers down and selected CBTS for the project. We shut down the majority of the customer’s aging and legacy hardware and infrastructure, and got them out of the responsibility of having to run two data centers. We put everything they need to keep into AWS, and enabled a level of disaster recovery and BCP framework which was previously not available. This is helping them in ways they previously did not consider, and creating new opportunities for them based on industry requirements they now meet.

Here are the outcomes: The customer closed its data centers; reduced the risk associated with owning data centers; rationalized its applications and reduced that number from 500 to 200; and is moving into a monthly consumption model with AWS.

That’s the spirit of what we want the practice to accomplish:  Assist the customer by allowing them to focus on their strategic outcomes while driving up efficiencies, reducing their dependency on legacy infrastructure, and eliminating support areas within their business where no real value was added to their outcomes.

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