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A Look into Cloud’s Present & Future

Richard Pilling

Principal, Technology Consulting

Miha Kralj

VP, Cloud
Interview

Richard Pilling and Miha Kralj recently joined the EPAM Cloud practice to build out a world-class team and help drive our clients’ digital transformations.

Together, they bring experience from Accenture, Microsoft, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and CloudReach, and have helped transform global Fortune 1000 organizations.

In this conversation, they discuss the top three things to consider for cloud strategy, their predictions for the future of cloud and their tech idols.

What are the top three considerations for organizations when building out their cloud strategy?

Richard: When considering cloud strategy, it must link into the overall business strategy for the company. For example, is the move to cloud helping to alleviate pain points or open new revenue streams for the company? Once everything is aligned, then you get into the more pragmatic side of the potential for cultural and organizational change presented by moving from a “hard-to-change and investment-heavy” traditional IT infrastructure to an environment that allows the business to experiment and try new things rapidly and with low risk. Treating the cloud as just another data center is the wrong way to think of it—start thinking services, stop thinking servers.

Miha: A successful cloud strategy needs to be aligned with the broader digital transformation strategy of the enterprise. It needs to take into account the historical context of the starting point, the boldness of the ideal future state and the appetite for change. To understand the starting point, enterprises begin with broad assessments across talent, infrastructure, financials, security and operations. The idealized vision of the new “cloudified” future helps enterprises to understand what good would look like—do they want to add cloud services to augment the existing IT landscape, do they prefer to move specific capabilities entirely to the cloud (like analytics, AI and CRM), or do they want to become a fully cloud-native enterprise like Netflix, Uber or Airbnb? The starting point and envisioned future will then inform the cloud strategy roadmap with specific, actionable items to define the upcoming cloud direction and velocity.

Where do you think cloud will be in five years?

Richard: Let me look into my cloudy crystal ball! From what we are seeing, multi-cloud will be the norm and putting a workload on the most appropriate cloud will become standard practice. The move toward a hybrid cloud model will be well underway (i.e., a workload spanning across multiple clouds, combining resources from them all together for a single goal).

Where we are today with the major cloud service providers (CSPs) vying for market share reminds me of the UNIX wars where the major players end up attaining feature parity with each other, and they ended up commoditizing their marketplace—meaning that service price will become the dominant factor in choosing cloud providers in the future.

Miha: In the last few years, cloud has eclipsed all aspects of the IT industry and is now considered a default platform for nearly every digital use case across enterprises. As leading cloud providers grow their global footprints, their relentless innovation investments ensure a constant stream of new services and solutions. From 5G and AI to new coding languages and quantum computing, every new IT innovation will be cloud-based, cloud-supported and cloud-enabled. Cloud providers are also strong supporters of democratized “citizen development” movements, investing in low-code or no-code solutions. On top of all that, cloud service providers are aggressively expanding into business domains, offering more and more business-focused SaaS solutions on top of their technology platforms.

Who is your tech idol, and why?

Richard: This is a tricky question, but I think it would either be Scott McNealy or Steve Jobs. At Sun Microsystems, Scott built an amazing company, where I was fortunate enough to work. Sun had the right balance of interesting work, hard innovation and fun, community spirit. People would practically bounce into work, be highly motivated and create amazing things.

Steve was a visionary leader who looked at the whole picture, not just from a perspective of “what can I sell to the market today?” I was lucky enough to be in the room when he launched the iPhone; I looked down at my Blackberry Pearl and saw just how much the world had changed in the blink of an eye. It deeply ingrained a belief in me that if you’re navel-gazing and not innovating, your business is falling behind its competition.

The success of both Sun and Apple is based on the design and integration of software and hardware as a whole—which is exactly the same for cloud when used to its fullest potential.

Miha: There are two people in our industry that have my utmost admiration: Bob Kahn and Vint Gray Cerf. They invented the Internet protocol (IP) in 1973 that is still used after nearly 50 years, almost unmodified. Bob and Vint were part of one of the most famous collaborations in the history of computer science that led to the most significant inventions of human mankind: the internet. In stark contrast with rock-star personalities of technology titans of recent years, Bob and Vint are the personification of super-smart, humble and hard-working electrical engineers that solved a specific problem with a brilliant innovation that is now powering the global digital economy. The two “fathers of the internet” stayed active throughout their careers and are an inspiration to multiple generations of computer professionals.

 

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