Steven Borg: Today, I got the opportunity to talk with Alex Brown and Mark Hanson, both from 10th Magnitude. The CEO and a cloud solution architect. And we talked about the Cloud Migration Center (CMC). A new offering that helps automate the migration of virtual machines to the cloud based on hundreds of thousands of machines that 10th Magnitude has had experience with. And it was a very interesting conversation, where we pulled out not just the importance, and the patterns, and practices, and scripts that do the actual migration, but what were some of the prerequisites that needed to happen prior to being able to effectively migrate to the Cloud.
Steven Borg: I’m sure you’re going to enjoy this podcast, and when you’re done, travel to 10thmagnitude.com/cloudeconomicsassessment to learn more. Now, onto the podcast.
Steven Borg: Alex and Mark thanks for joining me today. Alex, you’re the CEO at 10th Magnitude. Do you mind giving us a little introduction to yourself, a little personal introduction?
Alex Brown: Sure Steve. So my name is Alex Brown. I’m the founder and CEO of 10th Magnitude. I founded the organization eight years ago, to help customers across the country address their Cloud needs.
Steven Borg: Thanks Alex. And Mark, little intro from you as well, if you would.
Mark Hanson: Sure. Hey Steve. Mark Hanson, Cloud solution architect with 10th Magnitude. Been here about two and a half years. Focus mainly on supporting our clients adoption of Azure, mainly in the infrastructure space. I’ve been around the data centers for close to 20 years so I’m helping them along their journey to the Cloud.
Steven Borg: That’s fantastic. I’m really excited be on the phone with both of you for this podcast. One of the things were talking about today is the Cloud Migration Center, and I’m really fascinated in our previous discussions that we’ve had around it, but I want to bring to our listeners why. What are we seeing in the market? What are we seeing that makes us create a Cloud Migration Center?
Alex Brown: You know, it’s interesting Steve. We’ve been working with a variety of customers for the last eight years around their journey into the cloud, and how they are on-boarding and using Azure. One of the things that has clearly occurred over the last 12 months is that the pace of change, and the pace of implementation around digital transformation, which our large corporate customers have been asking for, that pace has increased significantly. They are looking for results very rapidly so that they can continue to address the needs of their organization from a speed, from a competition, from a customer support perspective.
Alex Brown: So in order to address that requirement for speed of results, we bundled up all of the learnings we’ve had from doing hundreds of these migrations. We brought together all the technology, all the automation, all the patterns and practices into one place. That’s the migration center, and now that we have gotten that built, it’s allowing us to address the core migration needs of our customers at a much more rapid pace, and much more quickly, and with a higher degree of success that we’ve never seen before.
Steven Borg: Strong reasons right there. You mentioned the last 12 months. Has this been a pattern, where we’ve seen this accelerated need, where enterprises are being pushed into the cloud? Or is this kind of a sharp transition point?
Alex Brown: Yeah. It’s a great question. There has been a very clear change in the behavior, and we have seen a very clear trend that customers are now wanting to get there as quickly as possible. They’re no longer spending a lot of time asking why questions, they’re now trying to get there and get the results as quickly as possible. That trend is clear. What I’m probably less clear on is, is it because they’re being pushed there because they’re seeing their competitors move more rapidly and get the benefits of their digital transformation, so they are responding to the competition, or have they finally understood what their cloud digital transformation results will be, and they’re wanting to get there themselves? They’re pulling themselves there then as quickly as possible so that they can in turn out compete their competitors.
Steven Borg: Those are good questions. I’m sure our listeners will fall on one side of that fence or the other, or maybe both sides of the fence. Mark, any other thoughts as to why the migration center now?
Mark Hanson: Yeah. I think Alex hit on the main one, right? The speed and agility is really what’s giving a lot of the value and outcome to the customers that we’re seeing competitive advantage, and all those good reasons around that, that they just can’t provide within their internal private clouds today. It’s a different philosophy. We’re also seeing a lot of other reasons though, and we’ll call them triggers I guess. You know you’re going to see things around data center expiration, contract renewals, we see a lot of customers nowadays are on workload refresh, either hardware or licensing or versioning refreshes that are causing them to change. And then I’d say the last few that I call out are probably capacity expansion. People who don’t have the ability to expand where they currently are located, and security, and compliance because there are definitely things that the clouds, the public cloud vendors are providing around security and compliance today, that you just can’t provide within your own centers. So those are some other reasons that we’re definitely seeing across our customer base.
Steven Borg: You mentioned one in particular which is those expiring data centers, data centers have that life cycle. Is it just now that two or three year life cycle, that the clouds been accepted long enough and now we’re seeing those fall off? Is that one of the main drivers, or what would you prioritize as the main two drivers? If you had to pick from those.
Mark Hanson: If I had to pick the first one, it’s definitely the one Alex brought up around speed and agility. I think that the expiration and workload refresh are definitely some of the other ones that we’re seeing. Yeah, the maturity is just growing exponentially. The cloud is changing it seems like every day, every week, every month nowadays. And the pace of change is increasing, but along with that, the maturity for our enterprise customers has come along. So, somebody who would have looked at a refresh in a data center, in our contract renewal of a colo (colocation facility), probably three to five years ago would definitely probably not have thought about moving to the public cloud in the fashion that people are today. But nowadays, it definitely is a clear and viable option for folks to leverage. So that’s definitely the increase in capacity and customers that we’re seeing go that route.
Steven Borg: Those are all excellent reasons. I want to shift gears a little bit. And we hit why the CMC and a couple reasons for just moving to the cloud in general, but what is the Cloud Migration Center? What’s kind of a concise definition of that?
Alex Brown: So, the Cloud Migration Center is essentially the embodiment of all of the experiences, the automation we built, and the patterns we’ve developed through the course of literally hundreds of these cloud migrations. So if you look at what we have learned over the course of migrating hundreds of thousands of servers, machines, workloads to the cloud, we have pulled that all together into one unified space. We have organized it in a way that we can run a top-to-bottom migration process very effectively, to get our customers the benefit of all that experience, technology, and automation in a very rapid time frame.
Steven Borg: I love it. That is a concise definition. And you mentioned hundreds of thousands of machines. There’s this massive amount of data that’s been fed into creating these best practices. How did we do it before? How did anybody do it before?
Alex Brown: Well, essentially what we did in the past is that was primarily a bespoke process. It was an individual process. Certain amounts of that process could be bulked up, delivered in bulk, but in general, each workload was assessed and developed individually. And over the course of that time, you have the very clear patterns, the areas for automation, the best practices, presented themselves to us as we’ve seen in the data from all of these migrations, and we were able to pull those out and cover essentially 90% to 95% of the typical migrations through this process.
Steven Borg: Now, I’m going to challenge you a little bit. You’ve automated this process away. Is it now just kind of an assembly line? I just give you access to my machines, and they appear in the cloud? What do I do?
Alex Brown: Yeah. If only it were that easy. So look, the reality of the migration process is that while much of the kind of plain vanilla technology aspect of the migration can be replicated at scale and at high volume, that is only a portion of what is needed for a successful migration. So, while much of that maybe plain vanilla, the results that customers are looking for and the process they need to deploy—the compliance, the governance, the operational processes—are quite unique to each organization. So yes, while we can tackle the machine migration at a high volume, we need to wrap that with all of the specific, unique custom pieces that are specific to an organization, to one of our customers in order to get them a successful migration outcome.
Steven Borg: So Mark, how do you address that? How do we understand what the customer need is, before we start pulling that trigger? I think that’s for me a little bit of a challenge because you’ve got a bunch of people who are used to living on premises. They’re used to having all their machines, and frankly being able to physically walk in and reboot a box. And now we’re changing that and moving them to the cloud, and we’re doing it in faster way, and some automated ways, but how do we prepare a company for that transition?
Mark Hanson: Yup. Absolutely. And I think that Alex hit on a number of good points. And I think to answer your question simply, just because you’re trying to establish a cloud migration center does not mean that you are not going to go through some sort of transformation. There’s some level of transformation that has to occur, even if you’re just looking at a migration activity. And I think that there’s a number of things that every one of our customers need to have, and need to leverage in order to make the CMC successful. I think that they have to ultimately have some level of assessment. They need to understand what they’re up against, whether that’s just infrastructure assessments, financial assessments, but also application assessments, to know what it’s going to take to move these workloads to the cloud.
Mark Hanson: There’s a level of organizational transformation that has to happen as well. And what I’ll say is maybe digital fluency of their staff and talents in order to support this transition and workload to the cloud, because it is different. And then I think that the core to me, as an architect is some level of cloud strategy for an organization. You know I don’t think that can be focused on enough for organizations that are making this change, even as part of their first pass that maybe focus on a migration activity. They really need to understand the technology tooling, direction roadmap, strategy components of what makes their organization tick and how they’re going to apply it to the cloud. And then the last part I’ll call out is really a foundation. You know, they need to have a good foundation in order to support this path forward, and make the migration successful.
Steven Borg: What do you mean by foundation? What are the key components of that foundation?
Mark Hanson: We like to talk a lot about virtual data centers, and I think a lot of the cloud vendors do as well, especially Microsoft because that there is the key part to make workloads and Azure successful. It’s still a virtual data center, a lot like what you would build out on prem, but you need to have those components in place. And that also encompasses a lot of the governance, operations, patterns, and practices that people will bring to the table. And that’s where we see a lot of our repeatability come out.
Mark Hanson: We’ve done that work for many customers over the years, and we’ve started to replicate that, automate that, make it less custom and more personalized for our customers. It’s not the necessarily clear, only defined factory model that you’re talking about, we’re going to put it through our practices and our automations, but ultimately we’re going to personalize it for our customers.
Steven Borg: Love it. That’s a great way to look at this is that personalization, the tailoring before you put it into this factory, where you’re going to be able to move machines effectively up to Azure. You mentioned assessments because how can I… If I’m moving to the cloud with 10th Magnitude, with anybody, how do I know what workloads go? What should go first? What should go second? What the impacts are going to be? What are the financial piece impact to that? How is that assessment process done? And what are the things that I should be thinking about?
Alex Brown: It’s interesting. It’s an interesting question and as usual, with a transformation like this, there is not a one-size-fits-all answer. So while during the course of our assessment, we will comprehend the workloads, the economic impacts of each workload, the optimization opportunities, the agility impacts. That does not necessarily give us the answer for the order and the process for an organization, because there are number of other criteria that are unique to that organization that are going to have to be taken into account. So, for example, some organizations need to optimize around helping their operation staff begin to learn and adjust to operating in the cloud world, which as you, Mark, pointed out earlier, you know you no longer have servers to reboot so the operational processes will adjust. It sometimes takes time for those people to get comfortable in the model so therefore, we may tune the migration plan to help them come up that learning curve as easily and effectively as possible.
Alex Brown: There are other organizations that need to demonstrate substantial economic gain initially to use that savings to help fund their ongoing migration, and transformation efforts. So in that case, we will tend to slant their plan heavily around the workloads that are going to demonstrate immediate economic benefit, so that they can catalyze the entire process.
Alex Brown: So there are any number of different factors that we need to take into place, as we’re building the plan that is done in conjunction with our customers, and really needs to be quite responsive to the unique needs of each organization. Again back to your question on, “Geez, is this migration center concept kind of a generic process that anyone can use?” To a certain extent, sure, but it ends up delivering quite a unique set of benefits to everyone, and those need to be understood before the migration effort begins in earnest.
Steven Borg: That’s a lot of preparatory work as well as you go into that. Is that something customers need to do before they start looking at a migration at all? Is that an internal process or how do customers walk through that? It sounds complicated.
Alex Brown: Yes. No. That is an absolutely critical … The preparatory work is absolutely critical before anyone undertakes the core migration. Look, at the end of the day, the migration as a technical exercise is not that hard. What is very hard is making sure that the organization understands where they’re going, why they’re going there, and what is going to have to change from a governance perspective, from an operations perspective, from a people perspective in order to get them there.
Alex Brown: The change that needs to happen to the physical servers changing into cloud computing workloads is only one piece in that pie, and if you don’t answer the entire set of questions, your transformation is much more likely to run into problems and to ultimately not be successful. The technology is pretty straightforward. The people and the organization stuff is hard.
Steven Borg: So Mark, if I’m making this migration, and I’ve looked at the cloud and like Alex mentioned early on in the podcast, people aren’t asking why move to the cloud, they’re asking how. And how do I, as someone wanting to move to the cloud, how do I come up with all of those things? Is that something you help me with, that 10th Magnitude helps? Is that something I have to do in isolation in a couple focus groups internally? Who helps me do that?
Mark Hanson: Well, first, 10th Magnitude absolutely can help you with that. And I think that the assessment process that Alex is outlining has a bunch of different facets that he that he mentioned. There’s technical parts to it, and business parts to it, and answering those questions, and collecting that together is really what is going to make your path forward successful. There’s a number of different things that you have to work through, and getting that information and having a methodical approach to it is what we pride ourselves on, and what we kind of focus on. How we help customers realize what is a good or a risky workload to ultimately start to look at, where do you begin, and how do you approach that path forward, and time to market, or ultimately, how you’re going to perceive… Get those values that you’re looking forward to get as outcomes, as part of your cloud transformation.
Mark Hanson: So I think that that’s where it begins. And we mentioned that before on the assessment side. And I think that that’s where it most customers have to start their journey is really to look internally along with a partner, like 10th, and realize how they’re going to establish their plan and strategy going forward. And then from there, the rest of the parts and components are to fall in place, as far as the automations and the cloud migration factory to actually do the technical side of the work.
Steven Borg: So I’m hearing there’s a couple of different areas here that are really important. There’s some pre-work that has to happen. Those assessments, that understanding, and Mark you mentioned, we do pride ourselves on having done that work for eight years, have built a process around that as well. And then second piece, which is something that is newer is the amalgamation of all of these ideas, these best practices, these patterns that we’ve seen again and again and again packaged up so that we can automate the actual migrations. So we have two separate very important components to this. The prerequisite, this assessment package, and then this delivery, which is the execution where we’ve got all of the best practices kind of embedded in this team. The scripting and the approach. Is that correct?
Mark Hanson: Yeah. Absolutely. I think that those two parts are really key to call out. And to me, when we talked about a migration center, it really is a process engine. It’s around taking those patterns and practices that we’ve got really deep experience in, through the repeated efforts that we’ve done, and bringing it all together in a comprehensive package that benefits everyone. You know we don’t need to recreate the wheel and nor do our customers, and we want to have that repeatability brought to our projects so that we can focus more on the strategy part of it. The innovation part of it, that allows us to take a customer through this journey that does include things like the assessment, these patterns and practices, the repeatability of migration. But also start to talk about how we can help them transform their organization to be more strategic, to be more competitive in their markets, to have this type of operating model that is really a good foundation that you can rely upon, and ultimately change their business over a period of time. You know, that’s where we want to get to.
Steven Borg: Mark, you’re speaking my language there, when you start talking the digital transformation and the way that people can then leverage this very dynamic infrastructure and platform that you find in the cloud, and use that as a competitive advantage to drive it. That just ties right back to the pressures that Alex talked about, that he’s saying when he’s talking to those other C-level executives in the industry.
Steven Borg: So let’s say I go through this process, what can I expect to see? What are the benefits of doing this, using the cloud migration center to get me up into Azure? Mark, I’m going to throw that at your direction to start with.
Mark Hanson: I think you’re going to see a number of things as part of this, and we mentioned some of these things in the previous question, but a lot of this will revolve around your speed and agility that Alex mentioned, your time to market. You’re going to be spending more time getting things to the cloud, getting things migrated versus trying to figure out how to do it. And I think that that’s really key because the trial-and-error will go down by using the processes and patterns that we have built out over the period of time. And I think that aligns to truly well-tested best practices. There’s a lot of things that people could toss around best practices, and as an architect, patterns and practices are key because that’s where you get your repeatability down. And I think that those are some of the main benefits and outcomes. Alex, I don’t know if you had some others that you’d want to throw in.
Alex Brown: Yeah. I think Mark, your points are spot on. The need to get to the outcome rapidly for customers has clearly become a major driving force for them. However, the reason for that, as I mentioned earlier, is likely either that they’re under significant competitive pressure from the marketplace and so they need to move quickly, or they’ve seen a big opportunity to outcompete, and they need to get there as rapidly as possible in either instance. In addition to moving quickly, they need to move with certainly and they need to make sure that they are going to get there, and get there with certainty, and with a minimum of risk. Because they can’t afford the time of doing something wrong to have to go back and redo it.
Alex Brown: So one of the things in addition to speed that they get from the migration center is they get that risk mitigation. It’s essentially providing them an insurance package that this is proven, known, understood, and will get them to the outcome that they’re trying to get to quickly and with certainty.
Steven Borg: That is fantastic.
Mark Hanson: I like to refer to that as the quality part of it.
Steven Borg: Now, I want to throw a little bit of a curve ball in here because that just sounds absolutely wonderful. And I do want to move with that insurance in mind, but when I get there to the cloud, I’ve talked with a lot of people that are afraid. They get to the cloud, they’ve done the assessments, they’ve done the understanding, and they get it up to the cloud, and maybe a new workload, and they may not want to manage that cloud infrastructure. They might not have that experience to manage the cloud infrastructure. What happens for people who are new to the cloud, and they might not be ready to manage that cloud infrastructure?
Alex Brown: Well, there’s a few possible scenarios there, and we’ve seen variations on all of these from our customers. So, you have one group of customers who typically… They’re typically very focused on driving value to their customers. They want to improve their cycle times, they want to get new product, new capabilities to market as rapidly as possible. They’re very focused on the value creation aspect of how they’re going to engage with their customers. Oftentimes what you’ll see is that type of organization is less interested in the mundane day to day operations of their cloud platform. In that case, an organization like that will likely ask us to tackle the day to day operations from them through our managed service capabilities so that they can remain focused on driving innovation out into the marketplace, where they’re going to generate substantial returns and add competitive value beyond just the typical day to day stuff that they’d like us to tackle. That’s one instance.
Alex Brown: The second instance is an organization that prefers to contain operations within their four walls. They view that as a core strength of the organization in which case then once they migrated, we may support their learning of their operations team in how to operate in this new cloud environment, in which case we may provide them with a center of excellence through our consulting teams for a period of time. Two months, six months, nine months, whatever the appropriate interval is for that organization, so that they can learn and adapt and adjust to this new paradigm before they take it over solely on their own. That’s the second instance.
Alex Brown: The third instance, and this one is increasingly common, is an organization that has traditionally outsourced most of their core operations to a traditional provider. And what they find when they try to reengage that provider with this new transformed cloud paradigm is that the old processes, and the old approaches that made a traditional provider successful in a static data center environment are now the exact opposite of what they need, in an environment that is predicated not so much on capital preservation and low-cost labor, but that is now predicated on speed, agility, and automation. So those organizations will oftentimes approach us to say, “Geez, we’re not getting the results we want from our traditional provider, 10th Magnitude, can you come in and provide the type of agile managed service that we really need to complement the new cloud transformed platform that we have, so our organization can move forward even faster?”
Alex Brown: So those are the three typical scenarios we see play out with organizations once they have kind of gone through the core transformation.
Steven Borg: Alex, that was a great summary. I think I have a pretty clear understanding, and I hope our listeners do too, of the kind of the drivers and the reasons behind both migrating to Azure, and using something like assessments in the cloud migration factory. Any final thoughts before we wrap?
Alex Brown: So look, this is a significant undertaking for any organization, and typically they are being driven by competitive issues of one aspect or another, whether they need to compete harder and faster, or whether they need, or they are at risk of being out-competed and they need to respond. In either case, this is substantial undertaking. It needs to be approached with the right perspective, the right experience, and the right planning. And so yes, the migration center is a critical piece of being able to do that quickly, but it is just one piece of the overall effort. And so I think it’s important that organizations, go in with the proper perspective of what they’re really going to have to undertake in order to go through this transformation successfully.
Steven Borg: Excellent. Thank you very much. For listeners, you can learn more by going to 10thmagnitude.com/cloudeconomicsassessment for more information. Alex, Mark, thank you very much for you time today.
Alex Brown: Thanks very much Steve.
Mark Hanson: Thank you Steve.
Steven Borg: Thanks for listening to The Art of Digital Disruption. At 10th Magnitude, we’re proud to create the path for organizations to stay competitive and disrupt their industries. And for more information on innovation and how you can disrupt your industry, visit 10thmagnitude.com/agilityquadrant, and download our latest white paper. Thanks for listening.