I’ve lived and worked in Silicon Valley my entire career, mostly focused on areas on the frontier of technology. A decade ago I learned about cloud computing and immediately recognized what it represented: a new platform that would transform the world of tech for both users and vendors. I threw myself headlong into the world of cloud computing, convinced I wanted to participate in the revolution.
Since then I’ve worked on cloud projects all over the world. I’ve consulted with enterprises and service providers, and spent time at two cloud software startups that ended up being acquired by incumbent technology vendors.
A little less than a year ago I joined Capital One as Vice President of Cloud Strategy. A number of people I know in the cloud community pinged me to ask why I joined an end user organization, because they found it a little surprising — people on the vendor side rarely move to IT users. But to my mind my choice to join Capital One wasn’t just logical, it represents alignment with the future of technology.
Let me explain.
Traditionally, one of the biggest barriers to effective IT has been friction in the system. Provisioning resources takes weeks to months. Configuring and operating them is difficult and error-prone. Changing an installed application to increase resources because of growing user load…well, you’re back at the weeks to months provisioning bottleneck.
Cloud gets rid of all that friction. Computing resources are available in minutes. And the cloud provider takes care of configuring and managing them. Magic, right?
It’s true, but many IT organizations approach this incorrectly. They treat cloud computing like a data center at the end of the wire. So they leave their traditional SDLC practices in place. The impedance mismatch between cloud speed and ITIL speed means they don’t achieve any observable improvement in their IT outcomes.
What you need to really take advantage of cloud computing is a complete rethink of your approach to IT. Yes, you get your infrastructure from a cloud provider. But you also implement agile development practices. You implement DevOps deployment methods. And you use SRE operations processes. The overall approach is often called cloud-native. We all know cloud-native companies, because we use them every day. Netflix. Spotify. Lyft. Airbnb. It’s no accident that cloud-native and disruption go hand-in-hand. Using the power of cloud-native practices, these companies force transformation into industries. And leaves traditional companies with no hopes of catching up.
And that brings me to Capital One. A number of years ago it looked at banking and concluded it was ripe for disruption. After all, banking is inherently a digital business, so it makes sense that using the most advanced IT practices could give the company a competitive advantage.
So it adopted agile. And DevOps. And decided to go all-in on cloud computing. Along with that, Capital One recognized it needs cloud-native talent, so it recruited heavily to bring news skills in-house. When I look around my office, it feels like a cutting-edge software company, and the conversations I have are those that could take place at LinkedIn or Salesforce.
So when Capital One reached out to me to help drive its cloud strategy I responded enthusiastically I joined Capital One because I believe it represents the future of how enterprises will need to respond to the cloud-native world. Every industry and every company will have its Lyft (or Airbnb, or Spotify) moment as customers and partners demand digital-based offerings.
I believe that our economy will see more disruption in the next decade than occurred in the entire twentieth century. Every person in tech will need to decide where he or she wants to experience that disruption: within a company surfing the cloud-native wave or one being inundated by it.
Did I mention we’re hiring at Capital One?