Capital One hosts fireside chat with guest from Forrester

Allison Perkel and Maurice Leacock talk cloud computing trends with Forrester guest, Lauren Nelson.

Founded as an information-based business, Capital One knew years ago that in order to drive technology innovation and create meaningful products we needed to manage data at a much larger scale. Today, we are delivering real-time, automated and personalized customer experiences enabled by machine learning on the cloud. 

Now that we’ve reached the next stage of maturity in our technology transformation during a time of rapid digital adoption, we decided to invite Lauren Nelson, VP of Cloud Research at Forrester, to join us as a guest for a virtual fireside chat about what cloud computing trends we should expect in future. During the conversation moderated by Maurice Leacock, Technology Product Director at Capital One, we speak about container adoption and cloud governance trends along with best practices in creating a culture of innovation. We also discuss what Capital One has learned during our eight-year technology transformation and journey to the public cloud.

Here are a few highlights from the fireside chat video with time stamps for the various sections.

Cloud migration (3:20)

Based on an October 2020 Forrester report, “Predictions 2021: Cloud Computing,” Lauren shares findings on how organizations are beginning to think about modernization and optimizing applications for new demands in the cloud. She said that companies are examining the appropriate ways to think about cloud governance, network architecture, containers and building a collection of services that are unique to their industry. 

The study also recognized that the pandemic responses have relied heavily on scalability of the cloud to meet new business demands. Forrester predicts that cloud native tech will continue to power digital transformation strategies. By the end of 2021, 60% of companies will leverage containers on public cloud platforms and 25% of developers will leverage serverless.

According to Forrester, companies had to adapt to keep up in 2020. “Now, we’re reaching a level of maturity and level of scale, that we can start to get real-time benefits,” Lauren said.

Container adoption (6:56)

Forrester Consulting commissioned a study by Capital One, “Cloud Container Adoption in the Enterprise” that reveals how tech leaders view container adoption at scale. One of the biggest takeaways was that 65% of tech leaders will turn to 3rd party platforms for container management. “In the future, we anticipate companies will double-down on topics like governance,” according to Lauren.

Capital One’s own container journey started with our 2016 acquisition of Critical Stack, an enterprise container management platform that enforces common governance and cloud compliance controls. We enhanced the technology and open sourced the product in 2020 to give back and solicit feedback from developers around the world. The most important element this product provides is governance. As a company in a regulated industry, we knew we needed to have strong orchestration, governance and policy patterns. We need to build fast with a clear view of where we are succeeding and failing.

Modernization (14:35)

According to Forrester, researchers are describing cloud maturity as modernization instead of hybrid cloud or multi-cloud today. In “Best Practices: Cloud Governance,” Forrester guides companies on how to set up a cloud governance function. Lauren uses a metaphor for modernization as a three-legged stool with technology, process and culture. Most companies are good at some but not all of these aspects which creates a wobbly stool. The sticking point for many companies is “process.” When containers were on-prem, developers were told they could innovate behind a firewall, so governance wasn’t properly addressed. Now that more organizations are in the cloud, they’re going to have to revisit process and governance, and they have to do so without compromising speed. 

Capital One realized very early in our transformation that we needed to “do the hard things first.” That meant compliance, risk and legal all collaborated from the beginning with engineers and the business. We knew our transformation was about more than just technology - it required the entire company to be on-board. From the CEO down to the teller, we knew this transformation was coming and we had to work together to do it in a well-managed way. 

An example of Capital One applying these practices is through home-grown technologies like Cloud Custodian, an open source product that automates governance, compliance, stability and cloud cost optimization.

Start with governance (23:50)

Lauren highlighted some findings from The Forrester Tech Tide™: “Cloud Governance and Enablement Technologies, Q4 2020” report. She shares that the envogue conversation in-market right now is, how can you build-in governance from the beginning? Companies that didn’t think about governance early, are having to think about re-architecting their networking decisions and that’s everything from data structure, strategy and protection. 

According to Lauren, when companies are thinking about governance at launch that means developing repeatable tool sets, education and visibility. In the container study, a lot of organizations said they were struggling with runtime monitoring and monitoring for performance of containers at scale. Companies are thinking about how do we build a process that’s reliable, dependable and repeatable?

Innovation culture (26:49)

As organizations continue to modernize in the cloud, Lauren discusses the importance of building a culture around innovation. She refers to a report by Charlie Betz at Forrester called “Your Operating Model Must Enable Innovation.” In the report, he examines how companies can be adaptable, creative and resilient. He mentions the concept of “wide boulevards and high curbs.” That means you can foster innovation by giving your teams the freedom to move and experiment, but making it very difficult to violate specific governance policies and go outside the boundaries that were created. 

When we think about cultivating an innovation culture at Capital One, we make sure there are a variety of viewpoints on the team and that people feel safe sharing their differing opinions. When people feel safe to bring new ideas to the “wide boulevard, high curb” model that’s how you create an innovation process. At Capital One, it’s important to have an inclusive culture so we have smaller teams to help foster communication. And during the pandemic, while people are working remotely, we work particularly hard to find that connective tissue to help teams collaborate, share their opinions and try new things. 

To watch the full fireside chat video about cloud computing trends, click here.


  • “Predictions 2021: Cloud Computing,” Forrester Research, Inc., October 2020
  • A Commissioned Study Conducted by Forrester Consulting on Behalf of Capital One, “Cloud Container Adoption in the Enterprise,” June 2020
  • “Best Practices: Cloud Governance,” Forrester Research, Inc., October 2019
  • “Your Operating Model Must Enable Innovation” Forrester Research, Inc., November 2020
  • “The Forrester Tech Tide: Cloud Governance and Enablement Technologies,” Forrester Research, Inc., December 2020

*Reports are available to Forrester subscribers or for purchase.

Allison Perkel, VP, Software Engineering

Allison Perkel is VP, Software Engineering at Capital One, where she leads an emerging line of business whose mission is to bring the amazing software built at Capital One to market. When not making the world a better place through technology, she can be found with her camera documenting the world around her. You may also find her cheering for the Yankees.

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