AWS: Tales from the Enterprise

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” -Seneca

September marked the end of my tenure as the CIO of Dow Jones. This month I am thrilled to start the next chapter of my career with Amazon Web Services as the Head of Enterprise Strategy.

Computing is constantly evolving. The adoption of the Internet and Internet-enabled devices — desktops, laptops, phones, tablets, watches, sensors — has occurred at breakneck speed over the last several years. I would challenge you to name an industry or established brand that has not been forced to change the way it thinks about its products and service delivery in the wake of this phenomenon.

And it’s only the beginning.

Processors will continue to become more powerful. Devices will continue to cost less. Internet connectivity will continue to become more available… globally. The appetite for consuming content, products, and services across this ecosystem will grow in tandem.

Traditionally, product development cycles have occurred in months and years. Enterprises have dominated their respective industries with their ability to invest in technology that set them apart from their competitors. Having access to capital and in house IT expertise to deal with data centers, servers, power, connectivity, telephony systems, and e-mail have helped make enterprises great and difficult to compete with.

With the rapid evolution of computing, these traditions have been challenged.

Enter cloud computing.

By leveraging economies of scale principles, cloud computing has enabled the industry to provide on-demand, pay-as-you-go, scalable, and fault tolerant global infrastructure and services with little commitment or up front capital.

These building blocks have made countless new businesses possible, and have likely touched each of our lives in some way.

I have spent the last several years as a technology executive at 2 iconic and successful enterprises. Most recently I was the CIO of Dow Jones. Prior to this I spent 11 years at Bloomberg LP holding a variety of leadership positions across their equity and messaging platforms, before founding Bloomberg Sports in 2008, where I served as CTO. I am grateful for having had the opportunity to work with such great brands and the intelligent, driven, people that keep them going.

In 2011, I had the opportunity to develop private cloud infrastructure at Bloomberg for their web properties. While these efforts drove down costs and sped the delivery of infrastructure by several orders of magnitude, it was impossible to keep up with the pace of innovation that AWS has clearly demonstrated. Subsequently, one of the major prongs of the technology strategy I employed at Dow Jones (and by extension News Corp) was to become a cloud-first enterprise. Over the last several years we migrated substantial portions of infrastructure to AWS while enabling new product development to happen much more rapidly with far less investment.

Through these experiences I have seen that cloud computing is among the best, if not the best, opportunity for enterprises to become more agile, drive down costs, and free up resources to focus on their business – the products and services that bring in revenue.

I believe so strongly in this evolution and its inevitability that I decided to dedicate the next chapter of my career to it.

Cloud is inevitable – most organizations will find themselves embracing it in some form or another. Organizations will do this at different paces, sometimes with the luxury of time, sometimes without. It may happen through implementation partners, or by extension through SaaS solutions. But it is here. It is past the point of being on its way. It will impact your business.

Large, established, enterprises may find that changes are required to make the transition to the cloud possible. There is a lot that goes into a disruption of this magnitude. Security, financial management, cost and policy governance, automation, DevOps, and corporate politics are just a few of topics that need to be considered. Many of these disciplines are well established within the enterprise. They require careful change and expectation management.

But it doesn’t have to be hard, and you don’t have to do it alone.

My experience has also taught me that no one in the industry is better positioned to shape the future of cloud computing than AWS. AWS was first to market with public cloud offerings, and has the largest breadth of services to offer. This can be summed up in a quote I’ve heard repeatedly while partnering with AWS: “there is no compression algorithm for experience”.

AWS has shown commitment to evolving their enterprise feature set and business practices. This is evident through the ongoing investments being made in this area. The proliferation of enterprise agreements, recruitment of enterprise technology veterans, and the constant service enhancements being made to cater to the enterprise all speak to this. I was not alone in seeing this mature over the last several years. Dow Jones and News Corp joined many other enterprises — Lionsgate, Suncorp, Bristol Meyer’s Squibb, Nokia, and Samsung, among others – who are utilizing AWS to create value to their businesses.

Using my own experiences and lessons learned in building a cloud-first enterprise, I will be working with enterprise technology executives to help them with this journey. I’ve had to work through the nuances of equipping a staff with new skills, building a DevOps organization, managing the transition of fixed capital expenses to variable operating expenses, influencing the executive team, and cloud design patterns, among others. I’m excited to share everything I’ve learned and I aspire to contribute to our customers’ success.

At the same time, I will be among the growing number of voices inside of AWS advocating for the enterprise. What needs to be built into our services to better serve the enterprise? How do we position services to resonate as well in the enterprise as they do in the developer community? What customers should we bring together to share experiences so they are gaining intelligence from like-minded people they trust?

This blog will be one of my channels. I have a growing list of topics that I hope to post about in the near future. I will try to address some of the topics listed above, celebrate successes, find lessons in failures, and share trends I’m seeing in our customer base.

I also hope to see you at conferences, trade shows, our offices, your offices, speak to you on the phone, or otherwise learn what AWS can do to make it easier for enterprises to thrive in the cloud. All ideas are welcome.

I look forward to working with you.

-Stephen
@stephenorban
orbans@amazon.com
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