How Important are Micro-Services, Containerization + Orchestration for the Modern Enterprise?

The reason I really like my conversation with Barry Libenson, CIO of Global Technology at Experian, is that I love learning from the best and biggest CIOs in the world. My experience is that what the big CIOs are doing will be relevant to you in the very near future. As technologies commoditize, they become more accessible to the mid-market CIO.

With a Global organization, Barry says it becomes critically important to get everybody moving in the same direction and that the architectural part of the organization is really responsible for pulling people together. The organization needs to determine what ‘Platform as a Service’ environment they want to standardize within the enterprise – all the way down to what authentication technology they want to use and what servers they are going to utilize for their workloads?

Listen to this shortened segment of my interview with Barry where he explains Micro-Services, Containerization and Orchestration and the importance for a business to decide on standards.

The full transcript of this clip can be found below:


Bill:         As you know, my show is listened to by CIOs and CTOs and CISOs around the world. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about what your major role is at Experian; and when you said you’re listening to your customers, what products and services does your company produce that you support?

Barry:     Yes, I run Global Technology for Experian, we’re the world’s largest credit bureau provider, but we also have a number of other businesses. We have a fairly diverse portfolio, so we also play heavily in the healthcare space, we’re involved in the automotive space as well, so we have products that do any number of different things.

I would say we’re specialists in big data analytics. By looking at very large, complex analytical models on behalf of clients to draw inferences, and we provide large data sets to clients that are trying to make analytical decisions themselves. We also provide a number of products in the fraud detection space. These are all products that are relatively high volume. They require very high availability, so four nines of reliability or better, and we operate globally, so we provide the same set of services around the world, largest markets being the United States, the United Kingdom, and specifically Brazil in South America, but we also operate throughout Asia and other parts of Spanish Latin America.

The products are varied. A lot of them involve what we call PII data, or heavily, very confidential information, so the need to protect that information is extremely, is incredibly important. It’s typically the information that would be used in making a decision about mortgage rates, or something of that nature, or a car loan. Our clients are the largest financial institutions in the world on the B2B side of things. But, we also deal directly with consumers to provide similar sets of services, whether it’s identity management, or identity protection, whether it’s credit reporting information, we provide similar services to end users.

Barry:     That’s why the need, and to be able to run in multiple compute environments is so important, because we have certain financial services clients that, obviously, are very concerned about where their data may reside, and even some of the large automotive manufacturers and some of the companies that we deal with in the automotive space, as well as the healthcare space, have similar concerns about the use of the public cloud. Not all of them, it’s a mix, but our goal is obviously to be able to provide those products and those services in any way that the customer wants to consume them. If you’re going to do that, they have to be built in a way that’s not cost prohibitive in order to support those multiple models, and that’s where the use of micro services and containerization and orchestration from a deployment standpoint are so critically important for what we do.

Bill:         When you’re thinking strategy at the CIO level, are you depending on your architects and business analysts to come up with different problems to solve, and then you’re creating a portfolio of ranking of how, and then, are you trying to think about what’s the 20% of the orchestration of the data such that I can get 80% value? How do you think about it from the structure of a global organization?

Barry:     It’s a good question. The way we operate is my team in my organization is responsible for global architecture as well as global operations. As such, we work very, very closely on a global basis with the different development organizations to make sure that products are being designed with flexibility and around a common set of standards in order to drive the highest possible amount of reuse that we can get. We also sort of facilitate what I would call the cross pollination of ideas and development around the globe.

The architects in my organization are really responsible for making sure that when we build something it’s not only fit for purpose in a particular region, but that it has all of the necessary components to make it reusable in another part of the world in the event that we wanted to take that technology and reuse it in another geography. Those are the same architects that generally sit down with the business units at the very beginning of the process of designing a new product, or whether we’re going to innovations workshops or blue sky sessions, there will almost always be somebody from my organization present to work with the business units as we’re designing products.

The global architecture group tends to have the most regional knowledge of what’s happening across our product portfolio, so these individuals actually have a global responsibility, they’re not regionally focused. So, if we’re building, for example, an analytical sandbox to service the United States, how do we make sure that when we design that, that it also would be reusable or could be deployed into the United Kingdom or into the Brazilian market. So, those individuals are responsible for sort of understanding all of the regional nuances so that we don’t end up having to make changes down the road as we design and build new technology and new products.

They’re also the group that’s responsible really for helping to drive standards, and as most people in the technology space know, that’s a little tougher than most people realize. I mean, everybody loves standards as long as you pick theirs. The great thing about standards is there are so many to choose from.

We run a large organization, we have thousands of software developers and engineers inside the company, and not in a negative way, but sort of left to their own devices, engineers are no different from anyone else, they’ll pick whatever technology they’re most comfortable with or most familiar with or they believe is the most productive, and if there’s not someone or some part of the organization coordinating those efforts, you’re going to end up with people developing in Java, and you’re going to end up with people developing in Python, and you’re going to end up with people developing on every possible platform as a service environment because they’re going to gravitate to what they’re most familiar with.

That’s actually okay in a small organization where you’re not looking to achieve a great degree of synergies through cross pollination, but as an organization grows, which we have quite a bit over the last several years, it really becomes critically important to basically get everybody moving in the same direction, and that architectural part of the organization is really responsible for pulling people together and saying, what platform as a service environment do we want to standardize the enterprise on?

What authentication technology do we want to use as an enterprise? What servers are we going to put our workloads on? And so, we’ve spent a lot of effort and a lot of time over the last several years making sure that everybody was moving in lockstep and driving to a common set of standards.

Bill:         That’s great. Thank you Barry.

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Bill Murphy hosts a popular RedZone Podcast, where he interviews leaders who inspire him in the areas of Exponential Technologies, Business Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Thought Leadership, Enterprise IT Security, Neuroscience, and more.

As the CEO of RedZone Technologies Bill is responsible for the vision and direction of the company and has guided the company to a leadership position in Enterprise Cybersecurity and IT Managed Services. In this quickly evolving environment, his leadership has made RedZone Technologies an avenue for innovative solutions, while remaining a dependable and reliable partner in the face of rapidly changing technologies and threats. The success of this vision has also meant consistently delivering on promises made, and earning customers’ lifelong loyalty.

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