Is “Cloud First” a Strategy or a Tactic? | Innovative Thoughts

In this interview, I loved listening to my guest Barry Libenson, CIO of Global Technology at Experian, talk about how he approaches Cloud Strategy versus Tactics. His approach will definitely accelerate your thinking as an IT leader as you build applications and infrastructure solutions for your business.

Listen to this great clip cut from the larger interview – it’s worth 3:55 minutes of your time.

The full transcript of this interview can be found below:

Barry L:    Every time you open up a tech pub or something like that, you see we’re moving to the cloud, we’re cloud first. It’s just been fascinating to me, as somebody who’s sort of been in tech for close to 40 years now, to kind of watch this, because we have a very different strategy. We believe that the cloud is an incredibly important vehicle in terms of deployment, but there are multiple vehicles for deployment. I, for the life of me, cannot understand why companies are coming out and firmly stating a cloud first strategy instead of saying, “We’re completely agnostic about where workloads are run, and we actually let the customer determine that and run the workloads where it makes the most sense for the business and for the client.”

So, that may be a public cloud, that may be a private cloud, that may be on-prem, it may be in a co-lo, it may be in someone else’s data center. But the thing that’s been really fascinating to me to watch is sort of everybody jumping on this cloud bandwagon, including us, but as sort of this infallible and intractable strategy.

That’s one that is totally, because I do lot of investor relation conversations, and what I try to explain to the investor community is, “Look, our approach is completely platform agnostic, we deploy in containers that allows us to put our workload in the Amazon cloud, in the Google cloud, in a private cloud, or run it any way we want.” That, to us, is a much more important strategy. So, that’s one area that I think is really interesting to delve into.

Barry L:    The other is obviously sort of the continued challenges around security. We, as a company, obviously take security incredibly seriously, it’s one of our highest priorities, if not the highest priority. The threat levels, if anything, they’re getting higher, they’re not going down. It really sort of creates an interesting question about where do we think security is going to be over the next several years, never mind in the next decade, because the bad guys continue to be pretty aggressive, and some of them are nation state sponsored, and every CIO I think is sort of wondering, where is security headed and how are we going to ultimately get ahead of all of this. Those are a couple of things that are sort of top of mind, obviously.

Bill M:    You and I were talking prior to this about it being such an issue, and that you’re tired of hearing people having cloud first strategy. I want to just ask you, I’m not even sure if cloud first is a strategy. That’s just a tactic, isn’t it?

Barry L:    Yes, but it’s become one of the most… it’s an expression that you hear an awful lot in the industry. You’re right, I think I would agree, it’s more of sort of a tactical deployment approach than so much of a strategy, or you could argue that it’s a deployment strategy. We are very agnostic, our approach is to be able to run in a public cloud, anyone’s public cloud, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, as long as it will run a containerized workload using OpenShift, where we’re good.

So, that can be in our data center, it could be in a customer’s data center, it could be in a public cloud, it could be in a private cloud, but it’s sort of that portability and transport-ability that we think is incredibly important. We have clients that are adamant that they do not want their data put into the public cloud, and so a public-cloud-only strategy for us is really not viable. We create our workloads so that they can be deployed pretty much anywhere.

To me, that’s a strategy, and that’s really more important than the marketing angle of being able to say “cloud first.” That’s kind of been where we’re going.