Public Cloud: The Bullet Train to Growth & Scalability w/ Frank Wander


Public cloud has changed everything. Not only does it help companies get data centers up and running quickly, it also means people with deep expertise can take the lead on setting up, managing, and maintaining what can be an extremely complex environment. Gone are the days where you have to acquire servers, bring in equipment, and configure your data center. The days of speed, scale, and savings are here.

In this episode, Frank Wander, CEO and Founder of PeopleProductive, shares why he’s passionate about public cloud and how it was integral to his company’s success.

We discuss:

  • Using emerging technologies to deliver solutions to the market
  • The advantages of public cloud
  • Why expertise is important for moving to the cloud
  • Designing your infrastructure for scale from the very beginning

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You are listening to applicationmodernization, a show that spotlights the forward thinking, leaders of HighGros software companies from scaling applications and accelerating time tomarket, to avoiding expensive license and costs. we discuss how you caninnovate with new technology in forward thinking. Processes can save some cashin the process, let's get into it. Welcome to the applicationmodernization podcast presented by Shadoof, I'm your host Nick Marker Elli.The goal of this podcast is to explore the journey and experiences oftechnology leaders of high growth software companies. Today, I'm going tospeak to frank, wander the cof people, productive frank will share his passionfor Leveraging Public Cloud and wise decision was an Entebbe part of hisorganizations journey to success. I would like to thank a sponsor red hatfor continuing to support the effort to bring these stories and lessons to thepublic settle in and enjoy the conversation with frank from people.Productive, Hey, frank: How are you doing today? Good Hey neck cover? YouBuddy, appreciate you having me on the show. Thank you yeah. I know I'm soglad that you can join us today, we're just going to jump in here and you nowstart talking about how application modernizations been a big part of yourorganization were excited to have you you know excited to here about yourcompany and how you've made some decisions that have helped you reachyour customers yeah. So why don't? Why? Don't we start with you telling usabout your organization and how you serve your customers today, yeah, youknow. The company that I found is called people productive. We helporganizations use a time, talent and energy, their people most effectively,so we're human performance engineers. We use all the human factors to helpleaders understand how to get the best out of their people. We provide deepinsights, we provide transformation, programs and advisory services andultimately help them link what the people do to higher financial return.Gotcha, I mean that's, that's an exciting area. I think a lot of peoplethat you know myself. I build teams yeah, so what you're providing toorganizations is really insightful. So if I was, if I was going to you know, Imention the streets, and I was like frank tell me, you know tell me howyour organization you know could help us. Tactically, you know. What'ssomething you'd lead was around that, but we could come in and identify whereare human capitalism being used effectively? Human capital is the most.You know it's the largest expense in just about every company. When you lookat it today years ago, companies had large plants, lots of factories atlarge amounts of capital equipment, and that dwarfed the course of the people.Now it's the reverse. You know the factory is the cloud now that has movedout. The people are the ones who actually bring that cloud to life, tocreate the services that customers are going to buy from you, it's all aboutthe people and how effectively they work it used to be. The battle was inthe market place between these products and solutions that came out of thefactory, but really that's reversed. The balance it battles in the talentmarket place and it's what they produce that winds or loses in the market place.So it's everything. Are there any specific verticales that yourorganization really serves the most like what I t be one of them. It is oneof them. We've done, we do work in forma. We also go to market to partners.They have a large hospital on. You know it's typically some form of knowledgework. You know the deciding factor its where people have knowledge. Workershave to collaborate and do things to create value, and that's where this sonshines doces. So so anything that's, I would assume anything. That's process.Heavy has a lot of information. A lot of you know whether it's you knowtaking something from a to B or compliance might be a good fit for someof the productivities solutions. Would that be fair or accurate? Yeahknowledge intensive work done by people, that's where you need the humaninfrastructure working really well, and there are a lot of things that get inthe way of people performing effectively can be. The culture can bethe way they've designed their environment, all sorts of stuff got it.So, let's shift to you understand een, how you embraced a modern approach fordelivering your solutions to the market.

You know, what's you know, yeah therewould be some type of emerging technology may be public cloud. Well, Iyou know when I set up the company, I had been a fortune to fifty Cao acrosscompanies and it was very clear to me, as technology evolved, that when thecloud came around this was it. This was the end point where everything wouldend up. Having you know run had large data centers under me, search for datacenters. You know once you understand the complexity of having your owncompute environment, all the storage data centers, all the different skillsets. You need to really run and manage that it's a big undertaking. I thinkmost people don't understand the true cost of running infrastructure and thefact that we could get that on demand have an environment, multi billiondollar data centers at our finger tips it just. It meant everything. Honestly,it's how you get speed to market. You know you can be up and running very,very quickly. You know if you want to go, do a search for a Colo if you wantto actually build your own data center. These are big undertakings just togeography, solving the geography problem where we going to be. Where isit safe to host this data center? You know as a chance that there could beearthquakes, there's so many factors that go into them. Is it in a majorflight path which you don't want to be under right, there's all sorts ofthings you got to think about, and then you know the building construction, thewhole facilities, peace- these are complex environments and it's best leftto people have deep expertise in that are doing it over and over again, andthat's a cloud get you so basically, your previous experience was the inflection point for decidingto go cloud first, I was a cloud preacher. You know, as cloud wasevolving, I was becoming a cloud preacher as giving talks on the factcloud is it? You know this is really going to change everything and Ibelieved it fully. I believe back then we were heading into work from anywherehigher from anywhere lead from anywhere world. I thought Claud was going tospeed that along as well, and that's in fact where we ended up. You know thisis technology. This is how it's evolved and each generation of technology hasprovided real benefits, and so this generation, like all the predecessorsbefore it, has provided real benefits to the and consumers. Do you have ainteresting- or it's probably not funny, we're talking about inflection points,but an interesting story about your time. You know working with data centers as a strategy thatreally propelled you to go cloud natives, the way to go, maybe somethingfrom your fortune two fifty days yeah. Well, you know the complexity of datacenters. You know, first of all, you're in the cooling and electric business.The amount of electricity that is consumed is enormous. You've got tomake sure you have adequate cooling, you got have everything is redundant,so you know your server infrastructure can never go down. So that's served bythese power distribution units, and essentially you don't want more thanfifty percent of the power on anyone, because if one fails they automaticallyflip to the other one- and you know some of the guys working the datacenter. One time made it a mistake: they weren't fully tracking powerutilization and they had sixty percent on one, and that happened to go downand flip to another one. That power shifted, because these wereinterconnected, petus to the other backup which had sixty percent on itand boom you, you short, the whole thing out: it brought down our you knowsome of our infrastructure. It was a big problem and in these are dangerousenvironments. You're talking very, very high voltage, nothing they've, nothingto kit about, and then you've got all the layers of security. You Got tomaintain so physical security out the front,different security layers to get into different protected areas. So it's areal it's a real discipline. The fact that somebody else can handle all thatis just great yeah. That would make sense. I mean the you know: Having adata center, be a core part of what you do when running to data center is notyour core business seems risky, even crazy these days, but that's these days.I think it's crazy. It was a necessity...

...back then right, you had to do it justlike at one time companies had their own power plants, it couldn't depend onthe grin to deliver electric to them, so they had their own power plants torun their factories. They all went away and you know data centers are goingaway. It's the same thing: Who's no one's in the day to center business,they're out in it out of necessity, not because it's core to them deliveringthe product of service to market. So we should get rid of anything. That's noncore yeah! There's a big movement in Industry today to do that, and I thinkwe'll see that accelerated, especially when you look at you know coming off,hopefully the back end of the pandemic. Yeah a lot of organizations startedmaking these decisions. You know it's hard to get people into the day center.So maybe we should trust one of the big public clouds to help offset that riskin that availability so that they don't have to oh yeah and the fact that theseenvironments are elastic and you can spin up, you know and use large dataanalytics environment pay for it, spin it down and you're no longer paying forit. You know this undemanded of resourcing is really amazing. Plus youhave back up right built into it. You've always got to have a back up foryou. Data Center, so now you've gotten multiples to begin with, because ifthere is a failure of one the power great in one area goes down, you've gotto you know: Bein a different power grid, so you have these geographicdiversity concerns, always when you're designing data center infrastructures.So in this case that's done out of the box. You know you could sit up yourback up right away and there are different levels of services you canget for that. You could spin up your services in another another country aslong as they have. You know, reginal data centers. You know you could spinup in Germany if you need to and have your data host it there for Germancusses, all sorts of things. You could do so tell us a little bit about yourcore application. Today, people, productive, you know what you guys arebuilding out and how you're leveraging some of those maybe cloud nativeservices. In a way. That's interesting. You know, Nick we useo the MicrosoftStack. We happen to run the AZURE environment. We originally ran an awsand we're using all Microsoft services, so they made it tractive for us to moveover. We moved to Azure back in two thousand sixteen seventeen time frame,so we've got visual studio, dot net, we're running that for our webdevelopment and we run Microsoft, Samarin we're using sequel server forthe data. We've got the team foundation, server, T F S, that's really ourdevaste and we use Microsoft teams for collaboration. So you know we use thestack. They've got the tools. That was the expertise we had really worked forus, so it made sense to move to that environment. Honestly. Now that I meanthat integrated kind of Microsoft Stack, you know, works well for so manyorganizations yeah that are focused on maybe not non technology. You knowthings right, you re what you're providing to customers is its insights,but at the end of the day, it's for, for you, know human capital right. Sothat's right, eny, capital transformation and another thing I'lltell you is being in that environment. You can leverage other tools that theyhave. So as your business evolves, you could take advantage of other servicesthat are in that environment. So you know we integrated power bi into ourback end, so that we have a really good analytic solution. I think there's justa tremendous that that seems to be everything these days right and theeverybody's looking for insights- oh my God, yeah talent, analytics predictiveanalytics, I mean predictive analytics, is a big deal and we integrated that inwe didn't have to build. You know a native solution, then there are other. There are otheroptions in the market, but for us it's right there. You know we've got power B.I were running this Microsoft native environment boom, so we integrate thatand that's the opportunity of running in an environment like that. What yeardid you start people productive? Two Thousand Fourteen? We starteddeveloping Software Gotcha, so I assume there were a few things to overcome.Initially, even though you know I'm a... native guy, I believe that's away to go. I believed it back, then I believe it more than ever. Now youstill have to acquire the expertise. You know you still have to have anazure architect. If you're going to be in the ager environment, you know yougot to have people know the way around. It is an expertise. There are skills,you got to understand the security side of it. You know, and you still need allyour developers. You need all those good development practices you got tomanage enterprise risk still. There are risks in any environment, not as manyas owning your own data center. That's for sure is many more. You knowoperational risks and environments like that that exists, but I'm no longerresponsible for managing them, because we're running in Azure, so yeah you'vegot to have expertise. You're building a business is no question, there's noescape so building a team which I think is most organizations one of their bigchallenges. Starting out, I know that's something we do with every day. Addingtalented people you know to help serve. Customers needsthat. I don't think that ever goes away, but initially I guess it's you nowstarted you got to find. You know the right core team and you do you've, gotto evaluate those people so and we do augment with consultant as needed. Imean it makes all the sense in the world like we started using an expertin parabere just to get us up some of the learning curves. I think peoplestarting out with these moving to the cloud. You know they should acquiresome expertise to help on that journey in the beginning, because you don'twant to make bad decisions, you want to make good decisions right out of thebox right now that much as possible. Absolutely that that makes so muchsense. So you know the underlying theme of the PODCAST is speed, scale andsavings. Those are the topics we really like to try to align. You know yourstory around whether it's one or all three do you think you could correlatesome of your journey. Oh Yeah, with your organization with speed, scalesavings. Well, let's just start with savings right off the bat. You knowthese environments generally have a free tier where you can start out. Sowe did begin on the free, Tra ws, and then we were on the free tier for awhile over at Microsoft, Azure and that's a big deal for a company for agroup of people that have an idea that they can use a free tier to start todevelop some stuff test. It out learn some things before they go all in so westarted on the free tier and you know, learn some stuff to get going. I thinkthat's really valuable, be the market. Look, you don't have to build a datacenter. You have to acquire service, you have to look for Colo and bringequipment in and configure it and get it up and running and then maintain it.There's nothing quicker than signing in getting an account and you're on aworking environment. That's quick- and I just can't imagine somebody notdoing that today and going the other way even the government's moving intothese big cloud infrastructures, because they realize that's the endgame and once they're moving in you know, you got department of Defense,CIA NSA and these others moving into those environments that tells you youhave reached a point of maturity and security that they can trust scale. Youknow we can scale to any size very quickly. You know we built an APP. Wecould scale the infrastructure. There's an auto scale feature you can buycapacity and have it on reserve for you. If you want, you worried that one dayyou're going to scale so much, you won't have what you need available, butfor you know a company, that's getting going that ability to auto scale andnot have to go acquire a lot more infrastructure on your own. It's thereit's available, you know that really matters and savings. You know I don'thave to have all of these infrastructure security people on myteam. We need to know about it. We use the tools that are available, but youknow I don't have a data center with a huge perimeter. I don't have securitypeople protecting the building. I don't have multiple buildings, you know andnot upgrading facilities. All the time you know I don't have to worry about.You know the cooling environment, the power environment, you know and up allthe upgrades you know one point:...

You know we estimate a repenting tenpercent of our our budget, upgrading everything, upgrading our equipment, up,grading, the databases, upgrading all the versions of the software very timeconsuming a lot of testing. So we're current. You know we're in environmentsthat have kept current. Those upgrades are happening. That's a big savinghonestly, so I think it's. The whole story be honest with the neck, so youreally hit all three which is great yeah. I think that's why we've owned inon those on those concepts, because you can really relate a lot of those thingsyou may have an initiative. That is a long to speed. You know speed to marketyeah or scale you know being able to like take on more customers at any time,and then you know savings is I mean the whole the whole you knowgetting out of the daacent Er from the savings perspective is really, I don'tthink projected as well as it should be. It's the Oh! I I can't even imaginewhat what the, if I decided that I was going to have even even called adedicated room in my facility yeah. What is what is the amount of cost inplanning and compliance that has to go into something like that, especially ifI'm housing customer data it would be astronomical. It's astronomical and youknow it's. It gets harder and harder to get people to do it, because ifsomebody comes in and they're an infrastructure guy working for yourcompany, where is the career path? You go to work for one of these big placesand there's career pass. They've got the talent yeah, absolutely so thecloud where the best people are going to end up who are in that business byvirtue of the fact, that's the best opportunity for and just to think thatyou don't have to hire out physical security personnel, and you know lockeverything down in the cages and, like the amount of paper work, you know thatall gets managed by the public cloud yeah. You know what a savings there,that's often not tied into the Tso of you, know going cloud first, so oh yeahat first you know I'm a fan strongly recommended. It is the way to go. Nodoubt my mind. So I always like to ask our guests. You know what what's someadvice that you would give to someone who's, maybe starting out thinkingabout or currently you know, fostering and growing a high growth softwarecompany- let's maybe something you've learned in your time. That would beuseful to the general public. That's interested in doing something like that.Well set up your infrastructure right from the beginning. You know make sureit's going to be scalable, so you don't have to worry about it designed forscale from the very beginning and then just let it happen because you do wantenvironment that is going to be scalable. You know think scalabilityfrom the beginning. That's good advice, you know, that's you know,interestingly enough, it shot us off. You know we started in two thousand andeight and we were probably at the time where we could have considered. Youknow hiring a a Colo building, some of that infrastructure. We might need thepublic cloud was kind of on the precipice of what we were doing in it.But we decided to go a cloud native with everything that we have andscaling has been easy are, which has been really nice. Oh absolutely andsmart move. You were early because I give talks on you, know: History,technology and stuff and October twenty third, two thousand and eight was theday that Amazon aws went general release,so you were right there before they even really went general release, whichis amazing, because you can look at the ear as a computing. You know we had theIBM main frame. One thousand nine hundred and sixty four goes on. Salestarts getting delivered that kicked off really the ear of that modernenterprise computing, big data centers in October, twenty third, two thousandand eight that was the beginning of the end for that that went from being acompetitive advantage to an anchor that you had to get out of changedeverything. Yeah absolutely- and you know it was interesting. When I startedmy career, you know the public cloud was not a thing yet and I was workingon the sales team and we were shipping mid range systems to companies. Youknow all over the country, and you know...

...these main frames and the just the up-keep Oh God on that hardware and that software in the cause Tance, you knowrequired. I mean just an unbelievable amount of unbelievable. You knowexpense and they have a diminishing customer base, so the ones remainingeat more and more of the cost of that whole thing. Absolutely because it begot to make a profit right, yeah. Well, you know Hobby's making some bigchanges there, obviously with their acquisition of red at, and you knowgoing towards the you know, moving those legacy, customers and highlyregulated environments. You know leveraging platform is a service andyou know a big part of their strategy these days. So you know yeah, all thetech giants will continue to evolve and push forward, and you know technologyfrom the a s is just not not going to be herefor the the faster you can unravel those things and put them in newenvironments, the better. If you're going to be they're bowl and chain adata center, you know was this big source of competitive advantage? It wasso expensive to build one of these to get all the people. You know toactually get the staff in to do the programming to build the software. Ifyou had that in one thousand nine hundred and sixty five and you werebuilding stuff, you really had something that was a competineadvantage, because most companies couldn't even afford to think about it.The price came down over time, more and more of them got into it. Then we gotinto the distributed environment. The prices came down again and you know when I look at what a ws did.You know that became the on ramp for the digital era. That was it. It kickedoff this world of innovation. It literally is the on ramp. People withideas can get on a free tier and the cost of innovation has never beencheaper or easier than it is to day, which is why you see this incredibleexplosion of startups all over. This is made it possible to turn concepts intoreality like never before. No doubt absolutely and now, jeff basis went tospace so yeah that all that all seem to work outfor them, and we talk about IBM. I remember we had the IBM sales guyscoming in, like two thousand two thousand and one I B M on the man ondemand everything's going on demand, but like what's on demand, how youdoing it and why could you ever get good answer on what was on demand andthen a WS pops up and go that's on demand? There is, I was funny yeah, Imean the whole. The whole idea that you know we use software as a service forsome body, the things that we use as a consumer. You know for most of us,that's email, yeah, pretty much. My whole Pronti Ity Suede is is SAS based.So that's all made possible by the concept of public loud, so really agame changer. Even as a consumer. I said when, when I started the companysaid we will never own a piece of software, we're going to buy everythingby the drink. We could scale up and down. You know and cut the number ofseats, so you can actually turn it into a variable expense, because one of theproblems with the old world of Sophar data centers was the enormous fixedcourse and to move from a fixed course of variable cost. So you can scare yourexpenses up and then, with the business the markets, change we get in adownturn think shrink a little boom. You could trick your expenses a littleright because a lot of it is by the seat by the drink. So it's a verydifferent world and it's the clear winter there's. No doubt everythingabout it makes sense. Absolutely well frank. We thank you for your time today we love, you know, hearing stories, some organizations that are doing greatthings and providing great solutions to their customers. It's been a absolutepleasure talking to you a neck. Likewise, any parting thoughts probablygot a lot of them in, but just in case yeah, Hey look be a cloud native,that's it if you're starting, if you have an idea- and you want to do it,get on the free tier at aws or Azure,...

...and just go at it get in sooner rather than later. Youknow live your dream. You could do it at night with some friends you don'thave to even build a data center is great there. You go innovating Yepcloud native. Let's do this great! Well Frank, innovative, Clo! There we goawlfred thanks, so much talk soon. Absolutely thank you neck appreciateyou having me on yeah. Absolutely the best take care by no application.Modernization is sponsored by Red Hat the world's leading provider ofenterprise, open source solutions, including high performing Linux cloudcontainer and Cubantes technologies. Thanks for listening to application,modernization, a podcast for high growth software companies, don't forgetto subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast player, so you nevermiss an episode and if you use apple podcast, do us a favor and leave aquickrating by tapping. The stars join us on the next episode to learn moreabout modernizing your infrastructure and applications for growth until nexttime. I.

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