Podcast Episode

Voices in Cloud – Episode 17: A Conversation with Avinash Thakur

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David Linthicum speaks with guest Avinash about his path through the Cloud and the challenges of advancing businesses through the cloud-laden tech industry.

Today's leading minds talk Cloud with host David Linthicum

Guest

Avinash Thakur heads the Cloud and Digital Business Consulting practice at RapidValue. With over 19 years of experience in delivering cutting-edge IT solutions, Avinash has competencies across Digital Strategy and Transformation Consulting, IT Application Maintenance & Support (AMS) , Solution Architect, Account Delivery Manager, Architecture and Development. He also oversees all innovation strategy, business development, solution creation and global technology partnerships for Cloud, IoT, Fintech, AI and RPA. He is passionate about collaborating with clients in addressing the disruption of traditional business and leveraging digital technologies to increase revenue & business agility and enhance customer experience & business efficiency. He is also an AWS Certified Solution Architect.

Transcript

David Linthicum: Hey, guys, welcome to GigaOm’s Voices in Cloud podcast. This is the one place where you will hear from industry thought leaders providing no-nonsense advice on how to succeed with cloud computing, IoT, edge computing, and cognitive computing. I'm Dave Linthicum, best-selling author, speaker, executive, and B-list geek. Joining me today is my special guest, Avinash, is it Thakur?

Avinash Thakur: Yes, it's Thakur.

Give us a Thakur story, where'd you come from, how you came to be working at Rapid Solutions, and what you're doing currently.

Sure, so at RapidValue I'm heading their Cloud and Digital Transformation Services. Overall, I have been in the industry for the last 20 years. I started my career way back in 1997 developing Y2K solutions for CTI. If I look back 20 years, at the time my workstation had 64KB of memory. Now, we have at least 18 gigabytes on my mobile. At RapidValue, it has been an interesting journey. Before RapidValue, I was with CSC, heading their mobility and digital offering. RapidValue, at their architecture, they were doing the shift in strategy from being a mobile application development company to moving towards driving digital excellence. That's where I came in, started the practice, a little bit of consulting. It has been a good ride.

Tell me about RapidValue. How were they founded? What are their core beliefs? What do they do in the industry, and [what about] a typical client you guys would have in the industry?

Sure. RapidValue was founded in 2009 by three founders. They had experience of working in consulting companies, for Deloitte, IBM, and Infosys. Primarily, what they saw was that as the mobile revolution was starting around 2009 with the whole iPhone, the smart phone, – that formed the need, and the gap they saw there. The initial strategy for the initial five years was developing the mobile application, coming up with the mobile strategy for the organization. That's what happened for five years.

Around 2014, when the upswing of the digital and the cloud started coming up, that's where we did a shift from driving mobility to driving digital excellence.Our client base ranges from Fortune 100 companies to start-ups. We position ourself as an agile boutique digital transformation services provider. Currently, we have nearly 450 consultants spread across three continents of Asia, Europe, and North America. Our key differentiator is implementing the cloud first with the transformation by liberating the two platforms of AWS and Azure.

Just to give you a sample of the kind of codes we have done in the last five years is that when I joined in 2015, we had only one project on the cloud. Now, I think nearly 90% of our projects are on the cloud in the [past] year. We have been working with the largest insurance provider in taking their underwriting solutions to the cloud. We are working with one of the start-up fintech companies in developing their platform on AWS. We are working with – in terms of developing the Smartsheet solutions on the Azure AD platform – in effect, working across the full spectrum of organizations from big to small, and that’s what the cloud democratization is.

What are you guys seeing as far as some of the technological issues that are shaping the marketing coming up in the end of this year, even go to 2020, and 2021 if you dare?

In terms of technology, I would say more than the issue, I would say the opportunities. As I was saying in my previous response is that once the cloud is done, that it has democratized, that the same level of technologies available from Fortune 10, 100,000 companies to the start-ups. The adoption, which was there around 6 to 7 years back which was primarily only on the IOS, now it is across all the business cases. The business cases which was not viable three to four years back is viable now.

The kind of consult the clients had earlier in terms of adoption is that – in terms of security or compliance, they are embracing it. Finally, whenever I have been having conversations with a client the last three years, and also in terms of discussing with them what they're planning for next year, three to four years, I see that typically the three or four recurring topics which comes in my conversation is that ‘hey I’m not here. We do have this large application portfolio, but I'm not going to take to the cloud in a big bang approach.’ I will need to have a hybrid approach, or a multi-cloud approach in the bigger organization because they will be having application portfolios or data centers across cities or across countries.

That is the top challenge they have is that how I can have both maintenance of the system and transform the systems going simultaneously having this hybrid cloud strategy in place. That challenge I see, which they are grappling with this, and also the piece with which they want to do the transformation, putting the feet on two main tracks; that is number one.

Number two, it's always the supply and demand of the resource and the skill set. If we go on the client side also, they have started implementing clouds in only last three to four years. Most of their internal IT staff is more conversant with the old way of doing things with the maintenance and support. Now, they have to wear the innovation hat that is to work in an agile way. The same is happening on the business demands also. They cannot wait for six months or one year to see the impact of any change happening. That kind of a governance culture change also they are grappling with.

Last, I will say, security and compliance, that is always there. Although all the major leading cloud platforms, AWS and Azure, have addressed the security and compliance at different levels. There's an network level, other authentication level, or even domain-specific where there's HIPPA compliance or financial service regulation. All the tools are there, but ultimately, it boils down to individuals on the services side, on the client side, they're conversant with how to use the tools to have that wall of security compliance. Those are the broad, I would say three-challenges issues we can start with there.

What are some of the downsides you see in companies moving to the cloud? I think people can misfire on the types of workloads if they're moving into the cloud. Have you seen some mistakes that people can avoid, and some advice you can give the listeners on how to avoid those mistakes?

Definitely. I think that one of the most important key things is that they should just not jump into the cloud and start dabbling with it. The key thing is that it always should boil down from the business objectives and the business codes. It should not be the tail driving the head. That is the few areas of the client, which I have seen they are very gung ho about adopting. Sometimes they go and do the first few few things of the business case. If it doesn't meet the outcome of the ROI, then they go slow down.

The key thing is that to take a step back, do an analysis of business objectives and tactics, and then see that okay, hey, all the services which I have through the leading cloud provider, how I can leverage that? For example, I will give you that we are having a conversation with one of the Smartsheet providers. They have been in the industry for last 50 years. They want to come up with a more digital solution because they have been seeing a shift in the client demand. [Those are] the driving factors they have is that they want to have a customer satisfaction, customer experience enhancement and also an ultimate three or four generating revenues.

It should always be about business driving the technology strategy. Also, as I was mentioning in the previous response is that having the governance and the skillset in place. Also, what kind of partners [do] you have to implement that strategy? These three factors drive that. You're implementing the change, but do you have the right foundation in place to go down in the cloud or not?

What kind of traction do you think the cloud is getting now? Will it change in 2020? Ultimately, do you think we'll reach a saturation point where through the low-hanging fruit, workloads are able to move into the cloud, or will it start accelerating because we're getting into the groove of things, and getting some talent, and some capabilities in the organization that haven't been there before?

I would say it's only going to accelerate. The other day, I was reading the Gartner Report where they had a simplified chart. Currently, the organizations have more than 30% of their data centers in the cloud. By 2025 there will be only 10% of the data centers which still will be managed by the organization. That kind of gap, I would say, the opportunity is still out there. Also, as I was saying, that the business cases, it was not viable. Earlier, they had become viable. To give an example: IoT itself.

Three years back with the IoT platforms coming up with AWS or Azure, they were at the initial stage. Now, it has become so much matured, now the organizations are actually implementing the solutions. They are now doing the POCs, whether it's manufacturing or the plan-based pump providers, or the turbines, or the Smartsheets, or the cranes. They're actually building the enterprise IoT platforms on top of that. That's where I see that the cloud is not only about IS, but it's about all the business cases, whether it's analytics, whether it's a simple web application. We want to do a cloud native development, whether we want to do the AI angle, whether we want to do the analytics. All the business cases are there. My take and belief is that it's only going to accelerate. The saturation world I still don't see on the horizon.

What would be the core advice you'd give to the Global 2000, ultimately, if they're looking at digital enablement? Should they focus really on the last mile stuff, or should they focus on some of the basic enablement stuff such as moving into the cloud? Should we start increasing the investment in how we do digital enablement based on what people are spending today, which seems to be on average about 1% of their revenue?

My belief will be that they have to increase the share of the discretionary spend towards the cloud. When we see in terms of the digitalization, the scope of digitalization can be driven by the business goals is that if they want to increase their customer touchpoint, or the customer experience, then they should be investing on the web, or the mobile channel part of it and live within the cloud.

If the initial goal is only in the low-hanging cost savings, then they can go for the simple containerization of the IS aspect of it. If their goal is that coming up with a more SOA-based or the vector based across their different organization talents they have, then they can invest it there. My answer will be that, yes, definitely they have to increase their discretionary spend much more beyond 1%. Again, it will be driven by whether they want to invest it more on the customer-fitting side, or on the invert enterprise-fitting side.

What's a typical day in the life of your consultants? What kind of problems are they typically working on?

At RapidValue, our core offering is around cloud native application development developing the AWS and Azure, all their IoT services. As I was giving an example is that we are working that the Smartsheet solution on top of the Azure IoTplatform. Our typical day is that we start a conversation with our client, and they say, "Hey, this is where we are. We have heard about the cloud. This is where the business we want to go with. How we can liberate the cloud? I do know that the cloud gives you all these possibilities. Here are the CTOs. This is my engineering team. Can you analyze our current solution and architecture and then tell me the gap analysis that I need to take it there, work that needs to be done, and how much time and the cost it will take, what kind of a skillset it will take?"

That is where the conversation starts. What we do is we analyze their current infrastructure and the technology and start giving them the options. That is, I would say, in a week, at least, I will have a conversation of that kind of a definite scale.

Where can we find more information about RapidValue Solutions on the web? How can we find you on the web as well?

Oh, definitely, so for RapidValue, our website has all the information about our services. There's lots of materials in the blogs and articles in the cloud. Our URL is www.rapidvaluesolutions.com. For me, LinkedIn is where I'm most active.

Great. This is a great conversation. I hope people check out your services and check out yourself on the web. As we are starting to digital enable everything, and moving into cloud, it's helpful having smart people to leverage and smart people to work with.

Please pick up a copy of my book, Cloud Computing and SOA Convergence available on Amazon and all places books are sold. Also make sure to follow me on Twitter at @DavidLinthicum, as well as LinkedIn where I have several cloud computing courses on LinkedIn Learning.

Anyway, I wanted to thank our guest, and thank you guys for listening. We'll talk to you again. Take care.

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