Wednesday, February 24, 2016

How to Guarantee Client Success After They Sign on the Dotted Line


By:  Ben Barker, Brandon Garcin, Mary McCoy & Joseph Tavano of Continuum Managed Services (Pictured Above)


So you’ve closed a deal and signed your client. Congrats! Now what? Maybe you ring the sales bell, but what happens afterwards?

You’ve earned your new client’s business, but now you have to keep it. In addition to delivering on contracted good and services, there’s a lot more that goes into generating a customer—especially if you wish to retain them. No matter the industry, there are multiple stages in the overall life cycle of a customer. After you generate the client, you’ll need to onboard them to your product so they are set up for success, nurture the relationship to build strong, dependable revenue and plan strategically for long-term growth as your clients’ business demands grow and change.

Customer Success in the Short Term – Client Onboarding

Following up After the Sale

You were in regular communication with your client before they signed on the dotted line, and you have to maintain those frequent touches afterward. First, establish a client onboarding process to set expectations and ramp them up for success. Send a welcome email, sharing all of the best ways to contact you and any important documentation or links you think they’ll need to properly leverage your products and services. After clients sign the contract, immediately follow up and schedule an onsite visit. You may be able to support them remotely, but you’re in the business of relationships. This onsite meeting is the perfect opportunity to revisit your service level agreement (SLA) and map out short-term and long-term goals of your partnership. In so doing, you’ll become more than just another vendor. You’ll be a strategic business advisor, thus making you stickier.

Client Enablement Materials

Beyond the initial follow-up, develop a consistent communication plan to stay top-of-mind with clients. Every time a new partner enablement material is created, distribute across email and post to your client portal, if you have one. Provide some context for how that resource or piece of collateral will help them, and what they can expect from it. Providing these educational materials is a crucial component of customer success. These materials can be product-specific or general best practices tips. If you’re an MSP, for instance, you might consider sending end users a list of tips for staying secure online.

Education

Every good you buy comes with a set of instructions because there’s always some learning curve consumers have to get over.  In the same way you should create and share educational materials as part of your marketing program, you should also build educational programs into your client onboarding plan. We offer our own partners a free, self-paced learning service called Continuum University to ensure successful adoption of our IT management platform. This helps partners learn how our products and services work, which equips them to better manage their own client service delivery. Consider implementing something like this at your own company. Offer in-person technical trainings if applicable. Just as we advise MSPs to lend support remotely through educational email sends, we also encourage many to conduct cybersecurity seminars onsite. By taking the time to train clients about common social engineering tactics, for example, MSPs graduate to the level of strategic IT consultants. At the same time, these MSPs cut down the influx of IT disasters attributable to human error.

Planning for Customer Success & Retention

Long-term customer success and support are key drivers of retention once initial onboarding phases are complete. If you’re a software vendor, you’ll want to make sure your customers have access to dedicated technical support, training and troubleshooting resources; these are designed to help answer specific questions, train new users, and problem solve when things aren’t working as expected.

If you’re a service provider, you’ll likely want to take things a step further and set aside dedicated time to work with your customers to understand how their business goals, roadmap and technology stack are evolving over time. This often ends in a win-win as it strengthens your position and value prop as a strategic partner who’s actively working to help your customers grow and succeed, while also providing you with insight into potential cross sell and upsell opportunities.

Another important element in this equation is data. If you’re able to provide your customers with insights as to how your software or services are helping them save time or money, operate more efficiently, eliminate technical issues or alleviate pressures that existed before they started working with you, they’ll be far less likely to jump ship and sever ties with you. If your offering has some sort of self-service analytics component that allows your users to do this themselves, that’s great – try going the extra mile by scheduling semiannual or quarterly business reviews (QBRs) and check-ins with an account manager to make sure they’re crunching the numbers effectively and are really seeing the value you bring to the table. 

At the end of the day, bringing new customers through the door is of course a top sales and business goal – but focusing on winning and keeping those customers for life, and putting the right mechanisms in place to ensure long-term retention and success, can be just as important.

Building Relationships with Your Clients

When you close a deal with a new client, it is your responsibility to grow and nurture that relationship. If you build strong and genuine relationships with your clients, you will reduce the risk of churn and increase your upsell/cross sell opportunities. There are a few ways that you should attempt to grow and develop relationships with your clients.

Scheduled Check Ins
Make time for your clients. This is key. Check in with them on a regular basis to make sure that they are happy with your services and that you’re meeting their expectations. This time can be used to go over the service level agreement (SLA) that you have set with them, as well as the previously mentioned business goals and QBRs. The frequency of these check-ins should be flexible depending on how much support a given client requires. Some clients may only want to check in with you once every quarter. Others might want to have monthly calls. Being flexible will make your clients feel like you have their best interests at heart.

Face Time
The amount of face time that you’re able to spend with your clients depends on a couple of things. First of all, it depends on their location. If your clients are all located in or around the city that your business is based, you’re going to have a better chance of setting up face-to-face meetings. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t serve clients outside of your local geographic location, or that you shouldn’t try to make time for clients that are further away. It simply means that these visits will be less frequent and need to be scheduled far in advance. Another determinant is the workload of your employees. If your technicians are busy remediating tickets all day, they’re not going to be able to do as many site visits. Taking advantage of an outsourced network operations center (NOC) is a good way to free up some more time for your current technicians. By offloading the mundane, day-to-day work, they’ll have more time to spend building and reinforcing relationships with your client base.

Social Media
Social media is a good tool for staying in touch with your clients, but should really be looked at as a supplemental effort. Don’t rely on social media to stay in contact with your clients, but rather use it as another avenue to provide them with crucial information and helpful content.  One way that you could utilize social media is by sharing company updates. Let’s say you know that your phone system is going to be down for scheduled maintenance during a business day.  You can post this kind of announcement on your company’s Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts so that anyone who sees it will know to expect an interruption in communication with you during this time. Social media can also be used to share content that your clients will find helpful. Think about some of the questions that your clients have asked you in the past. If you have a company blog, you can simply post the answers there or share the article on your social channels. If you’re not managing a blog, you can search some third-party publications and share the content that they’ve already created. Your clients will be happy to have the information in front of them and the publications will be happy that you’re promoting their content.

Do you have resources in place to ensure your clients’ needs are being met at each stage of the relationship, or are you set up to close deals and move on to the next prospect? Unless you’re guiding, training, and helping your client succeed through the use of your product or service, you’ll never be able to realize the full profit potential that can be achieved from closing a new customer.

Are you looking for more information on customer success? Make sure you attend HubSpot’s session, It's Not Over When You Generate a New Customer, presented by Dan Wolchonok at MassTLC’s marketing conference on March 24th.  Continuum is a proud user of HubSpot, and each of us leverage the marketing automation platform daily to drive leads and sales. Learn more about the conference here.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Embarking on the Unicorn Employee Search

By: Hitesh Aurora, Manager, Software Solutions & Talent Acquisition, Managed Staffing



Unicorn by definition is a mythical animal represented as a horse with a single straight horn which is very desirable and rarely seen.

Hmm… that’s exactly what some of our clients are looking for. A unicorn employee that has some unbelievable, unheard of skill combinations and can achieve everything the employer desires.

Surprisingly enough we do exactly that: find them UNICORNS. Question is how are we successful where several other competitors and HR teams are struggling? Let me explain via one of the recent searches we conducted.

One of our clients who is a very successful Boston Startup was looking for a Senior DevOps Ninja with 5+ years of AWS, Chef and Puppet experience and a Ninja who can code in Python and Perl ..simple. Unicorn I say.

I really didn’t have the courage to tell Jack who is COO that I am working on 12 similar requirements looking for exactly the same skill sets, so finding this person was next to impossible. Good AWS talent is high in demand and are paid mostly whatever the candidate asks for. So how do we crack the code and fill this role?

Our approach is unique for cloud technology roles, we use passive recruiting more than usual active candidate search. Our passive cloud recruiting team started contacting our existing talent pool of AWS experts, searched via social media, spread the word via TalentBin, LinkedIn, Twitter and you name it. At the same time the active recruiting team ciphered through most of the existing job board. Within 48hrs with team of 25 recruiters and sourcers we came up with about 5 candidates who were interested in the role and were good matches for it.

As Jack started interviewing the candidates he found some of them short of skills, asking for more compensation or wanting to work remotely. Overall the right Unicorn did not exist so far. We presented 3 more candidates within the next 2 weeks. But results were same, Jack and his team were not convinced that any of the 8 candidates presented would fit the bill. Moe, our team lead who was in charge of this role, decided to call Jack and get an understanding of the on-goings. 

Moe and Jack quickly came to the conclusion that the candidates presented so far were all 75% to 90% matches but not 100%. Moe requested Jack to interview his top two picks again and tell them what was missing and how they could overcome the short comings and deliver the goods.  Over the next few days final rounds of interviews were conducted and Jack had found his Unicorn.

Unicorn search works when theres a strong active and passive recruiting team with a strong candidate network involved. At the same time there has to be willingness from hiring managers to go the extra mile and keep working with Staffing / Recruiting teams till the Unicorn is found…

Happy Unicorn Hunting ….

--Hitesh Aurora

Hitesh is the Manager of Software Solutions and Talent Acquisition at Managed Staffing.  He builds technology teams by identifying and delivering the highest quality talent in the market using his background in the technology sector, I understand the technical aspects of hiring the right people into an organization and have the ability to assess skills and team dynamics. Prior to Managed Staffing he’s been a Director and QA Engineer at Courion, Akamai, Apple, Quattro Wireless, and EMC


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Gene Dolgin's Mobile World Congress Schedule

By: Gene Dolgin, Principal at Endeavour Partners


Gene Dolgin is going to be viewing the MWC from the East Coast but he dug into the agenda and picked out what he thinks will be the most interesting sessions:

Gene’s MWC Schedule:
5G: Creating Value for Consumers
Enterprise Wearables for Improved Productivity and Safety
Devices: Innovation or Commoditization?
NFV Implementation: Beyond Cost Saving
Unleashing the Value of IoT Platforms
The End of Subsidy?
The Internet of Thing: Connectivity
LTE Network Diversity: LTE Unlicensed and Beyond


What are your picks?


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Open Source in the Enterprise, Pt 1

By: Paul Marcinkiewicz, Solution Architect for Slalom Consulting

Why Your Company Should Adopt Open Source

Part 1 of a 2 Part Series   
With the advent of modern open source technologies, many enterprises have taken the first steps to adopting open source and moving away from traditional closed source models. This strategy affords companies reduced licensing costs, time to market improvements and increased interoperability.
Although the availability of open source tools is not new, the number of quality options and the maturity of the technology are higher than ever. These factors in conjunction with cost savings are making open source technology more appealing. 
Enterprises, particularly in conservative market sectors, have traditionally utilized large vendor solutions such as IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle for product, consulting and support. While having a comprehensive umbrella of product and support does reduce risk and provides a level of certainty to an organization., companies are finding that in order to compete in today’s business world, there is a need to innovate and bring solutions to market quickly.
Leading technical corporations such as PayPal, LinkedIn and Netflix have already adopted this strategy for years. Here, we will discuss how your company can leverage open source to enable its own initiative.  

History

To know where we're going we need to know where we've been. Here is a little background. 

Linux

The Linux kernel was made open source in v 0.12 in 1992 under the GNU General Public License. This made an operating system kernel available as open source for the first time.

The Open Source Initiative (OSI)

The OSI was founded in 1998 as an advocacy organization to execute the mission from the Free Software Summit held earlier that year. This foundation exercises the stewardship of the Open Source Definition to educate on and advocate for the open source cause. This foundation also provides a licensing review process to make sure that a submission conforms to the standards and expectations of the OSI.  

LAMP in the DotCom era

LAMP, which stands for Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP became the first full stack open source platform to gain widespread popularity. LAMP became prevalent in the late 90s during the height of the dot-com era. In addition, Magento is one of the most popular eCommerce packages that is a based on the LAMP stack and has a version that is available as open source.

Git

With its release in 2005, Git has quickly become the most widely used Distributed Version Control System in the market today, with many enterprises using Git-based source control systems such as GitHub, Stash, and Bitbucket.  

Licensing

Open Source Licensing operates under a group of widely-used categories such as the Apache License 2.0, GNU General Public License (GPL) and the MIT License (MIT). Click here for a full list of Open Source Licenses.

Advantages To Open Source Adoption

Licensing

Free Licensing allows open source software to be to be used, modified and distributed. This can save an organization thousands, if not millions, of dollars as compared to traditional vendor licensing models.

Community and Innovation

Since the global developer community maintains open source software, this model can offer an organization greater collaboration, openness and industry participation. Innovation is no longer limited to the walls of an institution and enhancements are added in the spirit of the overall advancement of the software package. Since this model encourages contribution, new features will (generally) get released much more frequently.  

Transparency

Software is no longer a closed book and developers can now debug, refactor and update code as they see fit. Bug discovery and resolution will occur in a much more open and transparent manner, leading to more rapid problem resolution.

Influence Product Roadmap

Formerly, organizations often had little input into a product's roadmap unless they were a large company that purchased a lot of a vendor licenses. With open source software, this is no longer the case. Any individual or organization can directly submit product enhancements.

Experimentation and the Need to Innovate Rapidly

Go-to-market velocity has accelerated dramatically in recent years. The concept of agile methodologies, MVP (minimum viable product) and iterative enhancements is now a philosophy that most companies, small and large alike, are embracing. All these forces work together to bring technology to market much more quickly than in the past and allow for greater experimentation with lower financial investment. Enterprises can no longer afford to wait for long release cycles from the major vendors. This movement was initially driven by startups that needed to keep costs down as well as create innovative solutions utilizing the latest technologies. This practice has now permeated enterprise where technology needs have grown significantly in recent years.

The Cloud, Big Data and Mobile

Probably the largest factor driving the use of open source technology has been the rapid increase in consumer mobile usage. According to statistics provided by Gartner, mobile traffic has been increasing at a rate of over 50% per year since 2013. Cloud computing along with mobile traffic has given the platform to scale appropriately. Since the need to support this traffic has increased, legacy RDBMS server technologies, which naturally impose the need to scale vertically, have proven to be inadequate. As a result, a number of open source technologies have cropped up to handle the formerly unprecedented increase in load.
NoSQL (Not Only SQL) database technology has recently entered the enterprise at scale over the past 3-4 years. This was done out of necessity as the sheer volume of data has increased exponentially. NoSQL is built to support horizontal scaling using commodity hardware in most cases. Many of the high-volume websites are at least partially driven using NoSQL technologies such as MongoDB, Couchbase, and Cassandra. All these platforms can be run under the Apache License, with enterprise versions available through vendors offering monitoring, backup and restore capability as well as fully operational portals both on-premises and in the cloud.

Popular Open Source Platforms

Some of the most popular open source categories and projects include:

Hypervisor/Container

  • KVM – Kernel-based Virtual machine included in Linux and Windows
  • Docker – Allows you to package your application and all of its dependencies into a single, platform-agnostic container
  • Kubernetes – Google project that orchestrates sets of containers across clusters of hosts

Web/App Servers

  • Apache – Most popular HTTP server project to provide extensible services
  • NodeJS – Event-driven, non-blocking, JavaScript-based server built on the Chrome V8 engine
  • NGINX– High-performance HTTP server and reverse proxy

IaaS/PaaS

  • OpenStack – API-based software to manage large pools of compute, storage and networking resources
  • Cloud Foundry – Cloud computing PaaS platform originally developed by teams from EMC, VMWare and GE (now owned by Pivotal Labs).

JavaScript Clients

  • AngularJS – Front-end MVC framework developed by Google. Uses custom DOM elements and supports 2-way binding.
  • React.js – Developed by Facebook, uses unidirectional data flow and virtual DOM for faster performance
  • Backbone – MVC-based framework also depends on the functional library Underscore.js
  • Ember – Older framework using the Handlebars.js templating engine

DevOps

  • Ansible –YAML and Python-based cloud provisioning, configuration management, application deployment and intra-service orchestration software
  • Chef – Infrastructure as code to manage infrastructure. Versionable, testable and repeatable.  
  • Puppet – Sysadmin-oriented solution allows you to define the state of IT infrastructure that automatically enforces the correct state.

Adoption is Already Underway

I recently asked 2 industry leaders the question: "Can you speak about the trend you are seeing in the industry and your clients about the acceptance of open source technologies in the enterprise and how software teams are restructuring to support this trend?" 
Bob Weiderhold, CEO of Couchbase:
"Most of the software infrastructure beneath Digital Economy web and mobile applications is moving to open source technologies. Most greenfield applications are already being built on open source and process of legacy proprietary technologies being replaced with open source has begun".
Juan Carlos Soto, CEO of StrongLoop (An IBM Company):
“In today's highly competitive market, companies of all sizes are seeking technology advantages to differentiate their offerings, speed time to market, and increase the value they bring to their clients.  Open source continues to see widespread and growing adoption in the enterprise as a means to gain rapid access to the latest innovations and minimize vendor lock-in.  For many of these companies, adopting open source requires adapting development processes to ensure open source technologies being utilized adhere to company standards and their developers are properly trained to be able to make contributions back to the open source project and community.”

What’s Next

Part 2 will address how companies have retooled and restructured to use and leverage open source in their organizations. I will discuss how an organization needs to restructure and what obstacles to adoption they have encountered and how to overcame them.
Paul Marcinkiewicz is a Solution Architect for Slalom Consulting - Boston. Paul has worked as an architect ranging from startups to Fortune 500 firms and has experience designing, building and migrating onto platforms utilizing open source technologies. Connect with Paul on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Massachusetts Tech Leaders Visit US Capitol

MassTLC CEO Tom Hopcroft led a delegation of local tech leaders on our annual pilgrimage to Washington, DC, as part of a tech sector DC Fly-In event organized with our national partners, CompTIA and TECNA, to advocate on behalf of the tech community nationally.

CompTIA, the Computing and Technology Industry Association, is a national advocate for the technology industry, and TECNA, the Technology Councils of North America, is an organization of technology councils across North America.

At this year’s fly-in, MassTLC joined with 100+ tech leaders representing tech councils in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Tennessee, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Georgia, Kentucky, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin. Collectively we participated in 120+ Congressional meetings on issues of importance to the tech community.

Topping our agenda for both the general conference and our individual legislative meetings were issues related to talent, such as lifting the cap on H1B visas for highly skilled foreign workers, workforce training funds for STEM, transportation (mass transit) to help connect talent to jobs, as well as the Internet of Things, Data Privacy, Smart Cities, and Net Neutrality.

In addition, we pick a priority issue each year to rally around with our TECNA counterparts and advocate simultaneously with 100+ lawmakers across the nation. This year we focused our efforts on reform and modernization of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). ECPA was originally passed in 1986, when email and text messaging were still nascent technologies, and it deemed that all stored electronic communications over 180 days old to be “abandoned.” Under ECPA, law enforcement and government agencies can acquire these abandoned emails and text messages from a service provider without a warrant, simply needing a subpoena to obtain access.

Last year, we focused our national advocacy on calling for a permanent extension of the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA), which bans state and local governments from taxing Internet access charges and assessing multiple and/or discriminatory taxes on electronic commerce. We are pleased to join with our partners at CompTIA in applauding passage of the customs bill on February 11 – H.R. 644 the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act — which included a permanent extension of the ITFA.

The Massachusetts contingent consisted of Larry Disenhof, Group Director Export Compliance, Government relations, Cadence Design Systems; Tom Erickson, CEO, Acquia; Sara Fraim, Director of Programs, MassTLC; Tom Hopcroft, President & CEO, MassTLC; David Leiter, President & Co-Founder, ML Strategies; and Gene Lew, CTO, HeyWire.

We facilitated Hill meetings with Senator Edward Markey, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Congressman Michael Capuano, Congresswoman Katherine Clark, Congressman Joseph Kennedy III, Congressman Seth Moulton, and Congresswoman Niki Tsongas’ Legislative Director, Sara Outterson.

Special thanks to CompTIA for organizing a couple dozen senior policy leaders, including Ryan Burke, Senior Policy Advisor for the White House National Economic Council, Sokwoo Rhee, Ph.D., Associate Director of Cyber-Physical Systems at NIST, FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny, Manar Waheed, Deputy Policy Director of Immigration at the White House Domestic Policy Council, Jason Whittet, Director of Intelligent Cities at GE.


A sampling of photos follow. 



Monday, February 8, 2016

An Entrepreneur’s Journey Back to the Workforce

By: Jason Alexander, Managing Partner, Alexander Technology Group


If you’ve been out on your own as an entrepreneur, the return to the mainstream workplace can be a daunting journey. How will you re-acclimate to regular accountability? What direction will best suit you on this new or revisited path? Why are you returning and is it for the right reasons? These questions can naturally build up and, combined with the strong possibility of focusing on the wrong priorities, it could make any mortal’s head explode. 

Whether your reasoning is derived from a necessary change of pace, the realization of a new dream, or the simple reality that entrepreneurship just didn’t serve you the way you had hoped, you are preparing to journey down a thoroughly blazed trail that many strong, noble, and honorable professionals have traveled. More concisely put, you ain’t alone.

First things first…

Let’s just immediately dispel the stress and pressure you may be unjustifiably bringing upon yourself for not being tough enough or not sticking with your dream. Don’t forget that you’ve already done what 99% of your peers didn’t have the guts to do. You tried. 

Having spent time as a failed and successful entrepreneur, I can say from experience that entrepreneurship is one of the greatest experiences in the world for defining one’s true self. Outside of the esoteric, Zen-like meaning of such a ritual, I’m simply referring to defining the stuff you truly like and the stuff you truly don’t.

There are many things that I can successfully accomplish due to adequate toughness but I just might not feel like it. There are other challenges I may choose to take on that may or may not end in triumph. Only time will tell. My point here is to distract you from unnecessary self-doubt and draw your attention to the pride you should feel because you stepped up to the plate, took a swing and, well, some other sporting analogy that spells out “give yourself a break – life is short.”

Now onto the second thing…

Now that we’ve successfully meditated our way to a lucid mindset and a slow pace of breathing, let’s think about what happens when the rubber meets the road. What are you going to do? What do you want to do? Here’s a simple drill that might get your mind churning in the right direction.

Step 1: Don’t go on any job boards/websites yet. All this will do is get you thinking about how you can retrofit yourself, reactively, into an existing role rather than thinking about shaping the kind of role within the type of organization that you desire. Remember the reasons you became an entrepreneur in the first place? I can’t imagine the deep-seated desire to control your own destiny wasn’t part of the equation—and we’re not giving up on that part of the dream unless we absolutely must.

Step 2: Write down a simple list of the things you know you do well. By this, I don’t mean “organizational skills” or “working with people” but the measurable, tangible results you factually know you deliver better than your peers. 

Step 3: Cross off the items that you have no desire to do. 

Step 4: Putting your entrepreneurial mind to work, think of the organizational types, verticals, and/or inflection points where these remaining attributes would be most valuable. Now you’ve defined the profile of the organization you should be seeking employment within.

Knowing what matters…

The most common mistake I see with entrepreneurs reentering the workforce is the propensity to forget everything they learned as an employer while delivering their value proposition. Remember that your entrepreneurial endeavors have earned you a homeschooled black belt in pragmatism or, better put, gravitating to the realistic versus the theoretical.

Self-doubt and inadequacy, feelings at least mildly present in 99.9% of those seeking employment, tend to drive us to presenting through theoretical means. Instead, make it a point to flex the muscles you’ve spent all this time building by cutting through any superficial theory and talking frankly about problems you have solved, deals you have won, and your absolutely clear vision on what’s next. 

There’s always tomorrow…

As long as you are walking away from a previous entrepreneurial goal for a solid, qualified reason and not because you had a bad week, remember that you learned a lot and that life is all about new experiences. Reentering the workforce could prove to be more professionally satisfying, more lucrative, may allow for more precious time with family, or perhaps open your mind to your next entrepreneurial vision. Regardless, while we do live in the real world and have to ensure we’re getting paid/paying bills, make sure to spend at least a little time following the fun. It’s all going to work out in the end.


Friday, February 5, 2016

The Tech Community's Guide to Onboarding

Below are the slides from "You've Got a New Team Member, Now What: The Tech Community's Guide To Onboarding" event we held at General Assembly Boston on 2/2/16.



Acquia Learning and Development On the Job Training by Breeann Biederman, Learning & Communication Specialist, Acquia




Onboarding is a Process Not an Event - Heather Carey, Senior Manager Employee Success, Constant Contact 



Creating a Company Your (New) Employees Love by Katie Burke, VP Culture & Experience HubSpot


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Putting Our Heads in the Cloud

By: A self-professed Cloud Geek, Joe Kinsella, Founder and CTO, CloudHealth Technologies


Last Wednesday night, MassTLC brought together 80+ professionals from the Boston Area to talk about the cloud at ConstantContact’s InnoLoft in Waltham. The event, When, Where and How to Go to the Cloud: Sharing Best Practices amongst Peers, was attended by professionals from a diverse set of companies, such as EMC, Raytheon, MathWorks, ConstantContact, Veracode, Akamai, Care.com, IBM, and Microsoft.

We started the night with my presentation on the state of the cloud. In my role as CTO of the Boston-based cloud service management company, CloudHealth Technologies, I’ve had a unique opportunity to talk to numerous enterprises and fast-growing technology companies at different stages of cloud adoption. I’m also a self-professed cloud geek who tries to never miss a local cloud gathering. I focused my presentation on some of the trends I’ve been tracking across our industry, including:

       Enterprise adoption accelerating - The enterprise has left development and test in the rear view mirror, and now is focused on heavy production use of SaaS, IaaS and PaaS.
       Complexity - While the cloud provides us great benefits for agility, innovation, cost, and operational efficiency, it does so at a cost: complexity.
       Governance - The rapid pace of change in the cloud makes governing cost, availability, performance, security and usage challenging. Failure to govern is one of the greatest impediments to cloud success.
       Cost - Many companies move to the cloud to achieve better Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) - but fail to maintain continuous vigilance required successfully manage costs.
       Vendor lock-in - As the offerings from SaaS, IaaS and PaaS vendors begin to diverge, we are increasingly finding ourselves struggling with vendor lock-in.

If you missed the event, the MassTLC has my presentation published online.

Following the presentation, I moderated a great panel discussion that included Dave Krupinski, CTO of Care.com, Stefan Piesche, CTO of Constant Contact, Cathy Bilotta, Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives of Raytheon, and Jeff Lamoreaux, CIO of Global Partners. Here is a sampling of some of the discussions:

       Developing a Cloud Strategy - Jeff Lamoreaux talked about his “checklist” for cloud adoption that allowed his internal business partners to adopt new services while still managing risks.
       Public & Private Cloud - Stefan Piesche reviewed his company’s recent experiences in adopting AWS after deciding to move beyond their OpenStack private cloud.
       Shadow IT - Jeff Lamoreaux told us about his experience with Shadow IT upon joining his company, and how he balanced the need for agility with the need for good corporate governance.
       Vendor Selection - Cathy Bilotta discussed the importance of ensuring strategic alignment with your chosen cloud provider.
       Migration - Dave Krupinski talked about his company’s journey from dedicated hardware to the public cloud.

We then broke into four breakout sessions to dive deeper into subtopics of IaaS, internal business models for cloud adoption, cloud governance, and vendor selection.

There was excellent feedback from panelists and attendees on the breakout sessions. Dave Krupinski’s group covered a lot of ground, discussing the reasons for adopting IaaS, adoption challenges, and the importance of taking incremental steps to ensure the success of your cloud strategy. Stefan Piesche’s group dove deep into how to evaluate a vendor, and the value of choosing an all-you-can-eat vendor instead of trying to manage platform neutrality. Cathy Bilotta’s group discussed the importance of partnering with your cloud provider at a strategic level to help stay ahead of enhancements and features, and adapting your internal skill set (supplier management, legal, contract management) to better embrace a cloud provider.

Overall the event was a great success, and left me wanting to see more events like this on the cloud in Boston. Thanks to the MassTLC for making this event happen. I look forward to seeing all of you at the next one.