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

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

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're listening to application modernization, a show that spotlights the forward thinking leaders of high growth software companies. From scaling applications and accelerating time to market to avoiding expensive license and costs, we discuss how you can innovate with new technology and forward thinking processes and save some cash in the process. Let's get into it. Welcome to the application modernization podcasts, presented by Shadowsoft. I'm your host, Nick Marcarelli. The goal of this podcast is to explore the journey and experiences of technology leaders of high growth software companies. Today I'm going to speak to Frank Wander, the CEO of people productive. Frank will share his passion for Leveraging Public Cloud and wise decision was an integral part of his organization's journey to success. I would like to thank our sponsor, red hat, for continuing to support the effort to bring these stories and lessons to the public. Settle in and enjoy the conversation with frank from people productive. Hey, frank, how you doing today? Good. Hey, neck car, were you, buddy? Cretiate? You having me on the show? Thank you. Yeah, I know, I'm so glad that you could join us today. We're just gonna jump in here and, you know, start talking about how application modernization's been a big part of your organization. Were excited to have you, you know, excited here about your company and how you've made some decisions that have helped you reach your customers. Yeah, so, why don't? Why don't we start with you telling us about your organization and how you serve your customers today. Yeah, you know, the company that I found as cold, people productive. We help organizations use a time, talent and energy their people most effectively. So we're human performance engineers. We use all the human factors to help leaders understand how to get the best out of their people. We provide deep insights, we provide transformation programs and advisory services and ultimately help them link what the people do to hire financial returns. Gotch I mean that's that's an exciting area. I think a lot of people that you know myself, I build teams. Yeah, so what you're providing to organizations is really insightful. So if I was, if I was going to you know, I mentioned the streets and I was like, frank, tell me, you know, tell me how your organization, you know, could help us tactically. You know, what's something you'd lead with around that? Well, we could come in and identify where human capitalism being used effectively. Human capital is the most you know, it's the largest expense in just about every company when you look at it today. Years ago, companies had large plants, lots of factories at large amounts of capital equipment and that dwarfed the Court of the people. Now it's the reverse. You know, the factory is the cloud. Now that is moved out. The people are the ones who actually bring that cloud to life to create the services that customers are going to buy from you. It's all about the people and how effectively they work. It used to be the battle was in the market place between these products and solutions that came out of the factory, but really that's reverse the balance. A battle is in the talent market place and it's what they produce that wins or loses in the market place. So it's everything. Are there any specific verticals that you're organization ation really serves the most? Like? Would it be one of them? It is one of them. We've done we do work in Farma. We also go to market to partners. They have a large hospital on you know, it's typically some form of knowledge work. You know, the deciding factor. It's where people have knowledge. Workers have to collaborate and do things to create value, and that's where this some shines dodges. 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 know, taking something from a to B or compliance, might be a good fit for some of the productivity your solutions. Would that be fair accurate? Yeah, knowledge intensive work done by people. That's where you need the human infrastructure working really well and there are a lot of things that get in the way of people performing effectively. Can Be the culture, can be the way they've designed their environment, all sorts of stuff. Got It. So let's shift to understating how you embraced a modern approach for delivering your solutions to the market. ...

You know what? What's you know? Yeah, there would be some top of emerging technology, maybe public cloud. Well, I you know, when I set up the company I had been a fortune to fifty CEO across companies and it was very clear to me, as technology evolve, that when the cloud came around, this was it. This was the endpoint where everything would end up having, you know, run had large data centers under me, search for data set enters. You know what. You understand the complexity of having your own compute environment, all the storage data centers, all the different skill sets you need to really run and manage that. It's a big undertaking. I think most people don't understand the true cost of running infrastructure and the fact that we could get that on demand, have an environment multi billion dollar data centers at our fingertips. 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 want to actually build your own data center. These are big undertakings. Just the geography, solving the geography problem. Where we going to be? Where is it safe to host this data center? You know as a chance that there could be earthquakes. There's so many factors that go into them. Is it in a major flight path which you don't want to be under? Right? There's all sorts of things you got to think about. And then you know the building construction, the whole facilities piece. These are complex environments and it's best left to people who have deep expertise in that and are doing it over and over again, and that's what cloud gets you. So, basically, your previous experience was the inflection point for deciding to go cloud. First I was a cloud preacher, you know, as cloud was evolving, I was becoming a cloud preacher is giving talks on the fact cloud is it. You know, this is really going to change everything, and I believed it fully. I believe back then we are heading into a work for manywhere, higher from any where, lead from anywhere world. I thought cloud was going to speed that along as well, and that's in fact where we ended up. You know, this is technology, this is how it's evolved and each generation of technology has provided real benefits, and so this generation, like all the predecessions before it, has provided real benefits to the and consumers. Do you have a interesting or it's probably not funny for talking about inflection points, but an interesting story about your time, you know, working with data centers as a strategy that really propelled you to go cloud? Natives of the way to go? Maybe something from your fortune to fifty days? Yeah, well, you know the complexity of data centers. You know, first of all, you're in the cooling and electric business. The amount of electricity that's consumed is enormous. You've got to make sure you have adequate cooling. You got to have everything is redundant. So you know your server infrastructure can never go down. So that served by these power distribution units and essentially you don't want more than fifty percent of the power on anyone because if one fails, they automatically flip to the other one. And you know some of the guys work in the data center one time made in a mistake. They weren't fully tracking power utilization and they had sixty percent on one and that happened to go down and flip to another one. That power shifted, because these were interconnected. PDUS to the other backup which had sixty percent on it, and boom, you short the whole thing out. It brought down our are you know, some of our infrastructure. It was a big problem and these are dangerous environments. You're talking very, very high voltage, nothing to nothing to get about. And then you've got all the layers of security got to maintain. So physical security out in the front, different security layers to get into different protected areas. So it's a real it's a real discipline. The fact that somebody else can handle all that is just great. Yeah, that would make sense. I mean the you know, having a data center be a core part of what you do when running a data center is not your 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. Just like at one time companies had their own power plants. It couldn't depend on the grid to deliver electric to them, so they had their own power plants to run their factories. They all went away and you know, data centers are going away. It's the same thing. WHO's no one's in the data center business. They're at in it out of necessity, not because it's core to them delivering their product or service to market. So you should get rid of anything that's noncore. Yeah, there's a big movement in industry to day to do that and HMM, I think we'll see that accelerating, especially when you look at, you know, coming off, hopefully, the back end of the pandemic. Yeah, a lot of organizations started making these decisions. You know, it's hard to get people into the data center. So maybe we should trust one of the big public clouds to help offset that risk and that availability so they don't have to. Oh yeah, and the fact that these are arments are elastic and you can spin up, you know, and use large data analytics environment, pay for its spin it down and you no longer paying for it. You know, this on demand type of resourcing is really amazing. Plus you have back up right built into it. You've always got to have a backup for your data center. So now you've gotten multiples to begin with, because if there is a failure one the power gride and one area goes down, you've got to, you know, be in a different power grid. So you have these geographic diversity concerns always when you're designing data center for structures. So in this case that's done out of the box. You know, you could set up your back up right away and they're different levels of services you can get for that. You could spin up your services in another another country, as long as they have regional data centers. You know, you could spin up in Germany if you need to and have your data hosted there for German cousins. All sorts of things you could do so. Tell us a little bit about your core application today. People productive you know what you guys are building out and how you're leveraging some of those maybe cloud native services in a way. That's interesting. You know, Nick, we use the Microsoft Stack. We having to run the asure environment. We originally ran in aws and we're using all Microsoft services. So they made it tractive for us to move over. We moved to as your back in two thousand sixteen seventeen time frame. So we've got visual studio dotnet. We're running that for our web development and we run Microsoft Zamarin. We using sequel server for the data. We've got the team found foundation server, tfs. That's really our Dev op server, and we use Microsoft teams for collaboration. So, you know, we use the stack. They've got the tools. That was the expertise we had. Really worked for us, so made sense to move to that environment. Honestly, no, I mean that integrated kind of Microsoft Stack, you know, works well for so many organizations, yeah, that are focused on maybe not non technology. You know things right. You're what you're provided to customers is is insights, but at the end of the day it's for for you know, human capital. Right. So that's right, the capital transformation. And another thing I'll tell you is being in that environment, you can leverage other tools that they have. So is your business evolves, you can take advantage of other services that are in that environment. So, you know, we're we integrated power bi into our back end so that we have a really good analytics solution. I think there's just tremendous amount. That seems to be everything these days, right, and the everybody's looking for insights. Oh my God, yeah, talent analytics, predictive analytics, I mean predictive analytics is a big deal, and we integrated that in. We didn't have to build, you know, a native solution. And there are other there are other options in the market, but for us it's right there. You know, I've got power Bi. We're running this Microsoft native environment. Boom. So we integrate that and that's the opportunity of running an environment like that. What year did you start people productive? Two thousand fourteen. He started developing software, Gotchas. So I assume there are a few things to overcome initially.

Well, even though you know I'm a cloud native guy, I believe that's the way to go. I believed it back then. I believe it more than ever now. You still have to acquire the expertise, you know, you still have to have an azure architect if you're going to be in the as your environment. You know, you got to have people and know the way around. It is an expertise. There are skills. You've got to understand the security side of it, you know, and you still need all your developers. You need all those good development practices. You got to manage enterprise risk. Still there are risks in any environment. Not As many as owning your own data center, that's for sure, as many more, you know, operacial risks in environments like that. That exists, but I'm no longer responsible for managing them because they're running in Azure. So yeah, you've got to have expertise. You're building a business. There is no question, there's no escape. So building a team, which I think is most organizations one of their big challenges starting out. I know that's something we do with every day, adding talented people, you know, to help server customers needs. That I don't think that ever goes away, but initially, I guess it's now started. You got to find, you know, the right core team and you do. You've got a evaluate this people. So and we do augment with consultants as needed. I mean it makes all the sense in the world. Like we started using an expert in power Bi integration just to get us up some of the learning curves. I think people starting out with these moving to the cloud, they should acquire some ex Britise to help on that journey in the beginning, because you don't want to make bad decisions. You want to make good decisions right out of the box, right now, that much as possible. Absolutely that. That makes so much sense. So, you know, the underlying theme of the podcast is speed, scale and savings. Those are the topics we really like to try to align. You know, your story around whether it's one or all three. Do you think you could correlate some of your journey? Oh Yeah, with your organization with speed, skill and savings? Well, let's just start with savings right off the bat. You know, these environments generally have a free tier where you can start out. So we did begin on the free tier at aws and then we were on the free tier for a while over at Microsoft Azure, and that's a big deal for a company, for Group of people that have an idea that they can use a free tier to start to develop some stuff, test it out, learn some things before they go all in. So we started on the free tier and, you know, learn some stuff to get going. I think that's really valuable be to market. Look, you don't have to build a data center, you don't have to acquire service. You have to look for Colo and bring equipment in and configure it and get it up and running and then maintain it. is nothing quicker than signing in, getting an account and you're on a working environment. That's quick and I just can't imagine somebody not doing that today and going the other way. Even the government's moving into these big cloud infrastructures because they realize that's the end game. 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 you've reached a point of maturity and security that they can trust. Scale. You know, we can scale to any size very quickly. You know, we've built an APP. We could scale the infrastructure. There's an autoscale feature. You can buy capacity and have it on reserve for you if you want. You're worried that one day you're going to scale so much you won't have what you need available. But for a you know, company that's getting going, that ability to autoscale and not have to go acquire a lot more infrastructure on your own, it's there, it's available. You know, that really matters and savings. You know, I don't have to have all of these infrastructure security people on my team. We need to know about it. We use a tools that are available, but you know, I don't have a data center with a huge perimeter, I don't have security people protecting the building, I don't have multiple buildings. You know, on not upgrading facilities all the time, you know I don't have to worry about, you know, the cooling environment, the power environments, you know, and up all the upgrades.

You know, one point. You know, we estimate a respending ten percent of our our budget upgrading everything, upgrading our equipment, upgrading the databases, upgrading all the versions of the software, very time consuming, a lot of testing. So we're current. You know, we're in environments that are kept current. Those upgrades are happening. That's a big saving on Leslie. So I think it's the whole story be honest with you, neck. So you really hit all three, which is great. Yeah, I think that's why we've honed in on those, on those concepts, because you can really relate a lot of those things. You may have an initiative that is a line to speed, you know, speed to market, yeah, 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 know, getting out of the data center from a savings perspective is really, I don't think, projected as well as it should be. It's the Oh, I gree I can even imagine what what the if I decided that I was going to have even called a datisent a room in my facility? Yeah, what is what is the amount of cost and planning and compliance that has to go into something like that, especially from housing customer data? It would be astronomical. It's astronomical and you know it's it gets harder and harder to get people to do it because if somebody comes in and there an infrastructure guy working for your company, where's the career path? You go to work for one of these big places and there's career paths. They've got the talent. Yeah, absolutely, so the cloud where they best people are going to end up, who were in that business by virtue of the fact that's the best opportunity for and just to think that you don't have to hire out physical security personnel and, you know, lock everything down in the cages and like the amount of paperwork. You know, that all gets managed by the public cloud. Yeah, you know, what a savings there. That's often not tied into the TCEO of, you know, going cloud first. So Oh yeah, that first. You know, I'm a fan. Strongly recommend that. It is the way to go, no doubt my mind. So I always like to ask our guests, you know, what's what's some advice that you would give to someone who's maybe starting out, thinking about or currently, you know, fostering and growing a high growth software company? What's maybe something you've learned in your time that would be useful to the general public that's interested in doing something like that? Well, set up your infrastructure right from the beginning. You know, make sure it's going to be scalable so you don't have to worry about it designed for scale from the very beginning, and then just let it happen, because you do want environment that is going to be scalable. You know, think scalability from the beginning. That's good advice. You know, that's you know, interesting Le Enough. At Chat Usoft, you know, we started in two thousand and eight and we were probably at the time where we could have considered, you know, hiring out a colo building some of that infrastructure we might need. The public cloud was kind of on the precipice of what we were doing in it, but we decided to go cloud data with everything that we have, and scaling is been easy, yeah, which has been really nice. Oh, absolutely, and smart move. You were early because I give talks on, you know, history, technology and stuff, and October twenty three two thousand and eight was the day that Amazon aws went general release. So you were right there before they even really went general release, which is amazing because you can look at the ear as a computing you know, we had the IB main frame one thousand nine hundred and sixty four, goes on sale, starts getting delivered. That kicked off really the ear of that modern enterprise computing big data centers. In October twenty three two thousand and eight. That was the beginning of the end for that that went from being a competitive advantage to an anchor that you had to get out of. Changed everything. Yeah, absolutely, and you know it was interesting when I started my career, you know, the public cloud was not a thing yet and I was working on the sales team and we were shipping midrange systems two companies, you know, all over the...

...country and you know, these main frames and the just the upkeep got on that hardware and that's software and the core maintenance, you know, required. I mean just an unbelievable amount of unbelievable, you know, expense and they have been diminishing customer base, so the ones remaining eat more and more the course of that whole thing. Absolutely, I am going to make a profit, right. Yeah. Well, you know, hobbum's making some big changes there, obviously with their acquisition of red hat and you know, going towards the you know, moving those legacy customers and highly regulated environments, you know, leveraging platform as a service and you know, big part of their strategy these days. So you know, yeah, all the touch giants will continue to evolve and push forward and you know, technology from the S and S it's just not not going to be here for though. It's the faster you can unravel those things and put them in new environments the better if you're going to be they're ball and chain. A data center, you know, was this big source of competitive advantage. It was so expensive to build one of these, to get all the people, you know, to actually get the staff into do the programming, to build the software. If you had that in one thousand nine hundred and sixty five and you were building stuff, you really had something that was a competitive advantage, 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 got into the distributed environment, the prices came down again and, you know, when I look at what aws did you know, that became the on ramp for the digital era. That was it. It kicked off this world of innovation. It literally is the on ramp. People with ideas can get on a free tier and the cost of innovation has never been cheaper or easier than it is today, which is why you see this incredible explosion of startups all over. This is made it possible to turn concepts into reality like never before, no doubt, absolutely, and now Jeff besis went to space. So yeah, that all that all seem to work out for him. And so we talked about IBM. I remember we had the IBM sales guys coming in like two, two thousand and one. IBM On demand, on demand. Everything's going on demand. We're like, what's on demand? How you doing it? And I could never get good the answer on what was on demand. And then aws pops up. I go that's on demand. There is was funny. Yeah, I mean the whole the whole idea that, you know, we use software as a service for so many two things that we use as a consumer. MMM, you know, for most of us that's email. Yeah, pretty much my whole productivity suite is is SAS based. So that's all made possible by the concept of public clouds. So really a game changer, even as a consumer. I said when when I started to come and I said we will never own a piece of software. We're going to buy everything by the drink. We could scale up and down, you know, and can cut the number of seats so you can actually turn it into a variable expense, because one of the problems with the old world of software data centers was the enormous fixed cost and to move from a fixed cost of variable cost, so you can scale your expenses up and down with the business. The markets change. We get in a downturn, things shrink a little, boom, you could trink your expenses a little right, because a lot of it is by the seat, by the drink. So it's a very different world and it's the clear winner. There's no doubt. Everything about it makes sense absolutely well, frank we thank you for your time today. We Love, you know, hearing stories from organizations that are doing great things and providing great solutions to their customers. It's been a absolute pleasure talking to you, a nick. Likewise, any parting thoughts? Probably got 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 a ws or Azure and just...

...go at it. Get in sooner rather than later. You know, live your dream. You could do it at night with some friends. You don't have to even build a data centers. Great, there you go, innovating. Yep, cloud native, let's do this. Great will frank, innovative cloud. There we go. Yeah, well, frank, thanks so much. Talk soon. Absolutely. Thank you, nick. Appreciate you having me on. Yeah, absolutely, all the best. Take care. By application modernization is sponsored by Red Hat, the world's leading provider of enterprise open source solutions, including high performing Linux, cloud, container and Coupernetti's technologies. Thanks for listening to application modernization, a podcast for high growth software companies. Don't forget to subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast player so you never miss an episode, and if you use apple podcasts, do us a favor and leave a quick rating by tapping the stars. Join US on the next episode to learn more about modernizing your infrastructure and applications for growth. Until next time,.

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