TBMC20 Recap: Getting the Most from Your Cloud Journey

Hearing first-hand from TBM and FinOps experts can be just the jumpstart you need to help you make the next step on your cloud journey. This is why we’ve rounded up some highlights from Apptio customers who shared their expert advice at TBMC20. This EMEA roundtable, and all TBMC20 sessions, can be viewed on demand by registering here. 

Challenges in the cloud journey

The panelists in this roundtable are all from the travel and entertainment industry, but their advice is valuable for any IT leader who is considering a migration or is currently migrating to the public cloud. These leaders are in varying stages in the journey, so we have something for everyone. Panelists include Brian Ellis, director of cloud transformation at Booking.com; Ben de Mora, SRE manager OTT platform at Sky; and David Andrews, senior tech manager of cloud operations at Just Eat. The session was moderated by Alex Hullah, director of cloud at Apptio.

Here are some of the challenges our panelists discussed:

  • Due to the way that cloud is purchased, provisioned, and charged, the buying centers and the controls for where and how we spend money tend to be naturally siloed away from our traditional centralized finance and central IT control processes.
  • There is a great deal of pressure – from within your organization and from wider industry trends — driving increased cloud adoption.
  • The increase in cloud utilization will require greater visibility, control, and governance.
  • When you move into public cloud, you also wrestle with the fact that the traditional fixed-cost base, where it’s easy to predict and easy to forecast for each platform, has changed into variable consumption-based spending that can change from minute to minute and hour to hour.

Q&A snippet from the panel

These challenges are driving IT leaders toward a new operating model focused specifically on enabling cloud-centric IT. Let’s get some real-life stories of how our panelists are addressing the move to the cloud. 

Alex Hullah: What was the driving force to move to cloud and where you are today?

Brian Ellis: Booking.com is fairly early in its public cloud journey. We have primarily been an on-prem data center type model for a number of years. The real drivers for moving to public cloud were developer velocity (the need to build and release capabilities more quickly), modern capabilities (as it relates to building products, operating data centers), and the opportunity to change our cost model … not so much cost savings but really being able to change our cost model from a CapEx to an OpEx model and tie infrastructure costs more closely to revenue.

Ben de Mora: My journey to the cloud began in the data center world as principle  engineer with Oracle supporting internal data centers. [I then spent] time with a consultancy based out of Edinburgh. There we were talking with customers at different stages of their cloud journey and seeing some people who are quite advanced and on their third or fourth cloud go live, and others who were just kind of putting a foot in the water and seeing how things were going there.

From then to April of this year, I was involved in probably the most exciting part of my career to date, the cloud environment that we have at Sky, building out the Peacock TV platform for NBC Universal in America. The scale and the pace at which we’ve been able to build that environment is just mind blowing.

David Andrews: I’m going to talk about the legacy platform at Just Eat today. We have merged with Takeaway, but we’re running two independent platforms, so obviously our journey is very different.

So, our story was really about growth. We moved to the cloud back in 2013. We’ve been cloud native since then; we don’t own any infrastructure at all.  

But at the time, we were one location, six to 10  teams doing about five releases a week. Today, we’re across eight locations, three countries — and that’s not including Takeaway — doing 4,000 to 5,000 releases a week and we really wouldn’t have gotten there without the cloud. 

The reason we moved initially was to access that infinite capacity. We were going through heavy growth back in 2013 and having capacity liability issues. But also, we recognized our business is very peaky: We sell our takeaways on Saturday night, Wednesday lunch time, and Sunday at 4 a.m. The cloud allowed us to optimize around that in terms of cost and focus. In terms of focus, it allowed us to have an abstraction way of managing the infrastructure, but also [allowed us to have] the kind of breadth of the managed services. AWS software allowed us to get faster, because ultimately, what we were trying to do is grow as a business.

With that discussion, it’s clear that all three organizations had very different ways of approaching a move to the cloud. These three methodologies will have varying benefits and outcomes.

Benefits of ditching the data center

Hullah: You all represent organizations that have traditionally been very heavily on-premises. Was there a particular factor or a particular kind of push event where you had to start moving to public cloud? What were the factors that had been holding you back?

Andrews: Just Eat’s move to the cloud was before my time, but I have talked to people there and it was the right time, right place. Just Eat in the UK started in 2006, which was the same time as AWS, so it wasn’t really an option when we started out. And actually, when we realized we were growing [exponentially], we looked at the business challenges with the technical solutions that could meet that need. There was a heavy appetite for growth, which has continued, and I don’t think we could have been able to do that successfully in a data center. 

de Mora: From my experience talking to customers prior to where I am now, as well as, with Sky, it’s pace to market, time to delivery, and time to innovation. [Cloud] is just absolutely key. 

Within Sky and the Peacock TV platform, the goal was to go live in time for the Olympics this year, which obviously thanks to COVID didn’t happen. We were under the under the target of a date that we couldn’t move. And to scale out and build a platform that could cope with the level of demand that we were anticipating across all the multiple events – that level of innovation, that level of building, that pace, just was not possible in any other environment than public cloud. There, you can build as quickly as you can code.

Hullah: That’s really interesting because the use case — that folks are so focused heavily on speed and the speed of innovation in public cloud — is an under-appreciated factor. I tend to hear people looking at cloud purely as a cost saving option. Do you think speed is something we value enough when evaluating the advantages and benefits of cloud and its flexibility?

de Mora: I think if you’re aware of the scalability and elasticity of [the cloud], then you take advantage of that. But if you’re going to [the cloud] purely with a view of bringing a lot of those costs down, you may or may not find any success in that experience because it’s not about getting a cheaper IT spend. It’s about getting more value from your IT spend and being able to show that every dollar you spend is proving valuable.

Ellis: At Booking, speed was a big consideration as to why we’re making the move to the public cloud. Currently, our application stack is fairly monolithic, and so we have longer development and release cycles. We view the move to the public cloud as an opportunity to re-architect and refactor a lot of those services to be more loosely coupled, built using more modern tools, languages, and capabilities. We’re looking for the ability to get some elasticity out of our infrastructure and avoid the stair-step cost model of an on-prem data center model.

Later the panelists dig into topics like why a move from CapEx to OpEx was important for Booking, the role revenue variability played, and what the move meant for the future of the company. They highlight net new behaviors and processes you’ll need to employ on your journey to the cloud and how to get alignment when the boundaries blur. Finally, they discuss preparations you need to make to avoid the inevitable “bill shock event” and how to handle it when it happens. Register for TBMC20 to watch the entire roundtable: Driving Business Growth at the Speed of Cloud.

To help organizations address these challenges, Apptio is the proud sponsor of the FinOps Foundation and the FinOps community. This community is dedicated to helping define and enable practitioners on the processes, governance, and capabilities needed to operate in the public cloud in the most efficient and effective way.

Stay tuned for more leadership and success stories from TBMC20. You can hear those stories firsthand — just register today for TBMC20 and you’ll have access to more than 100 customer sessions, roundtables, and product demos.

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