HOST: Lisette Diamant, Digital Brand Manager 

GUESTS: Alan Brunelle, Solutions Architect; Raj Kalluri, Solutions Lead – Cloud (Consulting Services) 

DESCIPTION: Alan and Raj talk through the most important considerations for implementing cloud strategy at your organization. 

Lisette Diamant  00:00 

Welcome to Digital Reimagined, a podcast packed with insights from Apex Systems, a world class technology services leader working to reimagine value for our clients. We'll bring you the voices of industry experts to showcase our proven solutions that span across digital innovation, modern enterprise and workforce mobilization. On today's episode of Digital Reimagined, I have two guests here in our podcast recording studio. They both specialize in the world of cloud, so we're going to touch on a few areas in today's episode. Welcome back, Alan Brunelle, wonderful to have you. Alan is our Solutions Architect here at Apex Systems. 

 

Alan Brunelle  00:43 

Thanks Lisette. It's great to be back, and it's always a pleasure to record. 

 

Lisette Diamant  00:46 

Wonderful. And I also have Solutions Lead for Cloud of Consulting Services at Apex Systems, Raj Kalluri. 

 

Raj Kalluri  00:53 

Excited to be here Lisette. It's my first podcast, and I'm excited to chat with you guys. 

 

Lisette Diamant  00:57 

Glad to have you here, a part of it. So to kick us off with some groundwork, how do we typically engage with our clients on work that's centered on cloud migration? 

 

Raj Kalluri  01:05 

Sure, Lisette. Usually we are working with our clients in one of four areas that we consider as our superpowers in the cloud space. The first one being cloud workload migration, followed by cloud-native digital services, data engineering, and DevOps and automation are the four areas where we see most of the work with our clients. 

 

Lisette Diamant  01:23 

Yeah, that's great. And now, what would you say are some of the typical major challenges that our clients are experiencing, that Apex has helped solve for? 

 

Raj Kalluri  01:32 

From my experience Lisette, the three that I see are lack of automation, cost optimization, and lack of employee cloud skill set. 

 

Lisette Diamant  01:40 

That's great, thank you for the overview. With lack of automation, Alan, do you want to expand on that topic a little bit? 

 

Alan Brunelle  01:46 

Yeah. So as companies move to the cloud, you know, as Raj has mentioned, it's critical to have a complex and complete automation framework. Testing is one of the most critical functions, if you want to accelerate your growth and your migrations to not just the cloud, but to be able to speed your production deployments, you really have to have automation in this day and age, it's not an option anymore. It's an absolute requirement. 

 

Lisette Diamant  02:08 

Absolutely. And Raj, to speak to the cost optimization, with such huge builds, how does cloud help with that? 

 

Raj Kalluri  02:15 

Sure, Lisette. Usually what we see is enterprises start with a top-down investment in their move to the cloud and have to exit the data center in a certain timeframe. But what they realize is that they're not taking the full advantage of what the cloud provides. And we usually help our customers put some governance around architecture, operations, and infrastructure programming. That helps with some of the issues that they kind of run into with a "lift and shift" strategy in the first place. 

 

Lisette Diamant  02:41 

Thank you, Raj.  Building on into that third section of the challenges that our clients are experiencing is centered on the skill sets, right? So Alan, why is it so important to evolve those skill sets in the first place? 

 

Alan Brunelle  02:54 

Well, from a cloud perspective, one of the most important things to think about is, it's no longer just writing Java code or writing JavaScript, there's a blend between that. DevOps becomes a huge componentry to it. In most cases, companies don't want developers to have access to cloud environments, they want it completely offline and optimized through the DevOps processes. Learning serverless technology is something that people can't underestimate, right? It needs to be planned for and accounted for in the process of the migration.  

 

Lisette Diamant  03:23 

So Raj, I'd love for you to build a little bit further around cloud skill sets and the importance of it, and really how we continue to upskill our employee base here at Apex Systems. 

 

Raj Kalluri  03:34 

I kind of think of cloud as the great equalizer, where it gives everybody the opportunity, whether you're coming from a development background, a security background, or an infrastructure background, to really learn and expand into other areas. What that means in terms of cloud skill sets is your networking engineers are kind of trying, having to learn the application development stack. There is a need for companies to support that process and we're seeing a lot of customers embrace the upskilling of their employees.  

 

Lisette Diamant  04:03 

You know, I think one thing that really is important to speak to and think about is those who are doing the work, which would be our consultants and our employee base, to continue to expand not only their key expertise, but bring that to the client site, bring that to the engagements they're delivering on. So Raj, how have you seen growth in some of our employees by being able to expand in this knowledge? 

 

Raj Kalluri  04:26 

Sure. Like I said earlier, cloud is the great equalizer. We're seeing our consultants and others gain additional skills at a rapid pace. And we see consultants picking up professional and specialty certifications around machine learning, solutions architecture, and security. This kind of broadens their horizon and what they can do, in addition to their core superpowers. Now they also have how to build infrastructure, how to do security solutions, how to do cloud networking security. The sky's the limit, and we're seeing a lot of not only our internal consultants, but even a lot of other cloud engineers pick up these skills and get certified on the cloud these days. 

 

Lisette Diamant  05:01 

Absolutely. And Alan, in your experience, how have you found it important to really come in with that mindset of being cloud agnostic rather than only coming in with one approach?  

 

Alan Brunelle  05:12 

Yeah, that's a great question. Yes, we meet with different clients. Every client has a different approach, obviously. But ideally, from a consulting perspective, we prefer to get somebody into a position for the future, right? And tying into a singular cloud platform can sometimes provide limits down the road. We tend to do our best to steer the client away from any single cloud integration. You can't always, and sometimes clients have their own specific way they'd like to go down. You know we certainly try to steer people into a cloud agnostic approach. There's three big providers that you have certifications for, but there's many others out there. So ideally, something that can get them to a futuristic point of a hybrid cloud. So you want to be prepared for all those contingencies. 

 

Lisette Diamant  05:51 

You know that that's one thing that always evolves in this futuristic thinking and approach that we bring. So let's expand a little bit, is there one piece that you really love bringing to be able to work in this space, Raj? 

 

Raj Kalluri  06:03 

The most exciting part for me, day in and day out as a solution lead for the cloud group, here in Apex Consulting Services, working with our customers, really understanding their needs of where they are today, and where they're going to go. And kind of build the solutions architecture, and also a team in place, tailor-suited for them, is what really excites me.  

 

Lisette Diamant  06:21 

You know, being able to work on different engagements, Alan I imagine it can be always a fun, creative challenge to be able to solve for all different needs. What would you say brings you the most passion in this work that you drive? 

 

Alan Brunelle  06:33 

I think it's the constant change, right? No one use case is the same. The cloud opens up just- it's an open book. There's dozens of database technologies, messaging platforms, various serverless approaches, there's just so much to play with. And I think Raj had said earlier, people in the networking world used to just handle routers. Now, everybody's doing that. That's just part of configuring the overall environment. And I think that kind of makes it exciting. It opens up all those doors. So you get to look and play with technologies that maybe years ago, you wouldn't have been able to do as just a developer. So it's kind of exciting. 

 

Lisette Diamant  07:06 

So to wrap up today's episode, I'd love to leave our listeners with one final closing thought. I'm going to lean into you, Alan.  

 

Alan Brunelle  07:15 

Thanks Lisette. Yeah, so my one thought to leave is really two parts. The keys to this environment are automated testing, so making sure your testing environment is up to speed and meets all your use cases, and lastly, try to be cloud agnostic, don't get tied into one provider. There are a lot of providers that each have their own uniqueness in the world. So be prepared, someday you may want to change. 

 

Lisette Diamant  07:36 

Absolutely. A really great point to leave everyone on. And Raj, how about you? What's one final thought to leave everyone with today? 

 

Raj Kalluri  07:43 

One final thought that I would add is, cloud really bring a scale and innovation that was not possible earlier in a data center world. So you should definitely make use of it. And while you do it, automation is the key. It's automation, automation, automation. It really gives you the peace of mind knowing fully well that you have covered lots of scenarios in an automated way. So I would say yeah, go automate away!  

 

Lisette Diamant  08:05 

Wonderful. Thank you both so much for this time. Wonderful to have you both. Thank you, Alan.  

 

Alan Brunelle  08:09 

Thank you Lisette, it was a pleasure to be on with you. 

 

Lisette Diamant  08:12 

And thank you, Raj. 

 

Raj Kalluri  08:13 

Thank you Lisette. 

 

Lisette Diamant  08:19 

Please be sure to subscribe to Digital Reimagined, wherever you listen to podcasts. We'll be sharing out a new episode every Monday. To learn more about Apex Systems' offerings, visit us at apexsystems.com/insights. You'll find our podcast here, along with success stories, articles, news and trends. Digital Reimagined is a podcast brought to you by Apex Systems, produced by Taylor Hawkins. The music you heard was Do Ba Do by Otis Galloway.