Small teams, code-driven outcomes key to helping enterprises manage cloud, says AWS partner

Pictured above: Jon Spinks, Sourced Group CEO.


Not unlike that one friend who got a tattoo 10 years ago and now wants it covered up, some enterprises have been experiencing a similar phenomenon when it comes to the cloud services they’ve shifted workloads to.

Paul Bertoni, managing director for Sourced Group, North America, sees it all the time. Sourced Group is a global cloud consulting firm headquartered in Toronto with more than 50 AWS certifications, in addition to deep partnerships with Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft. In January it achieved AWS DevOps Competency.

“In Canada, when we enter the picture, 80 to 90 per cent of the time it’s usually because of misguided consumption,” he explains.

It’s a consistent problem. Research from Gartner and Dimension Research shows that more than 50 per cent of cloud migrations exceed budget, exceed migration windows or cause unexpected business disruptions. For nearly 10 years, Sourced Group has been the guard rails for the most security-conscious organizations moving to the cloud, such as government agencies and financial institutions. Founded in Australia in 2010, the firm has grown 50 per cent year-over-year. Its first big win was the launch of the first public facing retail bank app on AWS in Australia, a feat which they repeated with a leading Canadian bank in 2017. Since then, they’ve also helped three additional banks in Canada with their cloud strategies, making the region the company’s most profitable one.

But almost every customer, says Bertoni, no matter which part of the world they reside in, has a difficult time answering one basic question: Why move to cloud in the first place? Cloud starts off as a big driver of cost savings, but unexpected costs and resource sprawl can lead to an empty wallet fast. Bertoni says Sourced Group has found success by viewing the three main cloud platforms as a bucket of lego bricks and assembling them in a standardized, repeatable pattern. “AWS will sell you the bricks. We end up selling a car made out of those bricks,” he explains.

But the work often doesn’t stop there, and deeper customer engagement is often necessary to keep them up and running. For example, help determine and maintain encryption needs at various levels of the organization and manage user access and permissions. Sourced Group’s global headcount is just over 100 and growing, but Jon Spinks, CEO, is adamant that “it’s not a numbers game.”

“It’s about getting highly skilled people who can automate via code and help deliver code-driven outcomes,” he says. “There are 1,001 ways to do something, but only five you want to do in the enterprise.”

Time to go serverless

Jeff Kratz, AWS’ general manager and regional head of Latin America, Canada and the Caribbean, says he’s noticed more customers moving to serverless computing.

“I’m seeing a lot more customers using Lambda,” says Kratz. AWS Lambda lets customers run code without provisioning or managing servers, and they only pay for the compute time consumed, so there’s no charge when the code isn’t running.

AWS is investing in new tools and frequently refining existing ones to help provision resources and accurately optimize costs for scaling, says Kratz. At this year’s AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas, the company made new announcements around predictive scaling and intelligent tiering. S3 Intelligent Tiering automatically moves objects between two access tiers – one optimized for frequent access and another for infrequent access. The service moves objects that haven’t been accessed for 30 days to the infrequent tier, and if the object is later accessed, it’s moved back to the frequent tier.

AWS Reinvent - partner certification
Terry Wise, vice-president of global alliances, ecosystem, and channels for AWS, says the company is looking to scoop up more Windows workloads.

A report from 451 Research suggests AWS cloud provisioning tools will gain serious momentum among partners and customers if they continue to innovate with machine learning and AI, while making its services more available on a broader range of cloud devices. Giving people opportunities to plan ahead and allocate resources efficiently on its platform prevents sloppy spending from customers. It earns their respect, the report says, and more importantly, a recurring business model with long term pay off.

“By the company’s own reckoning, it has lost half a billion dollars in revenue as a result of its Trusted Advisor,” the report noted, referring to AWS’ online tool that helps customers find opportunities to save money, improve system performance or close security gaps. “But the company is playing the long game; it knows that short-term losses in revenue will equate to greater trust, better relationships and greater revenue growth in the long term.”

AWS also has its crosshairs on Windows workloads, thanks to end-of-support dates approaching for some key parts of the Microsoft on-premises stack, including SQL Server 2008 on July 9, 2019 and Windows Server 2008. A logical move for AWS, since there appears to be plenty of Windows workloads in AWS clouds today. According to an estimate from analyst firm IDC, AWS hosts 58 per cent of Windows workloads in the public cloud, followed by Azure at about 31 per cent.

Sourced Group is a global platform partner for AWS, but it’s also well-versed in Azure and GCP. Spinks says he’s been impressed with Microsoft’s own transformation as a major cloud vendor, pushing a unified cloud experience across public and private clouds through its huge incumbent user base. Microsoft even added a number of AWS-style pricing models to its platform, according to 451 Research.

“They’ve learned to pivot into platform sales,” he says.

But what’s perhaps more impressive, he adds, is the sudden growing interest in Canada among major cloud providers despite a slow start when it comes to adoption, and the AI ecosystem that flourished in its wake.

“In a three-year span we went from no cloud providers to all three. That’s unheard of globally,” he says, adding Canada’s AI talent pool and investment from major vendors in that particular space can’t be ignored. “We went from a ghost town to essentially the AI capital of the world. If that’s not going to impact the Canadian marketplace I don’t know what will.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Alex Coop
Alex Coop
Former Editorial Director for IT World Canada and its sister publications.

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