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Cloud computing interview series: Meet Brian Johnson, CEO and co-founder of DivvyCloud

A tour of cloud computing: “Cloud-based infrastructure by itself doesn’t deliver huge benefits”

Gabriela Motroc
cloud computing
© Shutterstock / Timashov Sergiy

Cloud computing is worth exploring; this is what we think but of course, we’re no experts. Therefore, we decided to invite 12 experts to weigh in on the present and future of cloud computing. Our next guest is Brian Johnson, CEO and co-founder of DivvyCloud.

Cloud computing is worth exploring

In last year’s JAXenter Technology Trends Survey, we asked readers about their interest in different technologies and, according to the results, the cloud was a very relevant topic for developers. As you can see in the figure below, cloud computing was the runner-up in the “General IT topics” section, after software architecture.

JAXenter Technology Trends Survey 2017: Results

If you want to read more about respondents’ favorite and least favorite cloud platforms, have a look at the results. Sure, cloud computing was already very popular but these results put things into perspective for us; in 2017, respondents were more interested in cloud computing than in microservices, DevOps, machine learning, blockchain and the list goes on. That may or may not still be the case, but these results opened our appetite for everything cloud-related.

Despite cloud computing’s popularity, there are still a lot of unknowns, misunderstandings and gaps. For example, earlier this year, we learned from Sumo Logic’s 2018 Global Security Trends in the Cloud report that almost half of their respondents reported that current tools do not work in the cloud. Furthermore, a whopping 97% out of the 300+ respondents felt that they lacked the tools for proper cloud security. Read more about the report here.

The bottom line is that cloud computing is worth exploring and the benefits definitely outweigh the risks. This is what we think but of course, we’re no experts. Therefore, we decided to invite 12 experts to weigh in on the present and future of cloud computing.

A tour of cloud computing will be published twice a week. 

Here are the interviews published so far

  • Abby Kearns: “It’s very important for technology to be cloud-compatible, if not cloud-native”
  • Oleg Chunikhin & Terry Shea“Serverless is another step towards improving productivity, especially in DevOps and operations”
  • Peter Meulbroek :“Cloud-neutral adds a large amount of complexity and risk to a migration, without really solving the issue”
  • Ross Kukulinski“Observability is an essential component when successfully operating software in the cloud”
  • Carlos Sanchez“A seamless multi-cloud experience is currently practically impossible”
  • Ben Newton“Kubernetes is crucial for widespread multi-cloud adoption”
  • Shiven Ramji“The next step is to make integrations between cloud services as easy as possible”

Our next guest is Brian Johnson, CEO and co-founder of DivvyCloud.

 

JAXenter: What benefits does a cloud-based infrastructure bring? What are the drawbacks?

Brian Johnson: Many developers have adopted a Continuous Integration / Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) method that involves frequent releases. In this new method to development, it is imperative that continuous security validation is an element of the overall process before code is released. By its very nature, CI/CD also demands a high degree of automation, and implementation of security validation should be included.

JAXenter: Has GDPR affected the way you or your organization does things? 

Brian Johnson: GDPR has not impacted DivvyCloud operationally. We have little to no exposure under GDPR, but it has created greater demand for our software.  Under the GDPR rules, companies can receive substantial fines for non-compliance. Given that we help customers achieve continuous compliance for cloud and container environments through automation, we have seen a definite uptick in the number of companies seeking out solutions like ours.

The most mature tools for cloud are often the ones that started with a focus on cloud.

JAXenter: What benefits does a cloud-based infrastructure bring? What are the drawbacks?

Brian Johnson: Cloud-based infrastructure by itself doesn’t deliver huge benefits. It needs to be paired with a different way of approaching IT at the organizational level to really provide the benefits most people think about (agility, scalability, etc.).  Companies need to embrace a new way of managing IT, moving away from command and control to a culture of enablement. This cultural shift then enables developers and engineers to fully leverage software defined infrastructure through a self-service model that makes experimentation easy and leads to huge gains in terms of innovation. This in turn often leads to improvements in profitability.

JAXenter: What is your favorite cloud-based tool, service, or platform to use and why?

Brian Johnson: Kubernetes is my most recent obsession. Had we had something like Kubernetes when we were deploying large MMO’s at EA, we would have saved ourselves a tremendous amount of time and pain.

JAXenter: Is Kubernetes becoming central to cloud adoption?

Brian Johnson: Operational efficiency is certainly one important reason that many customers are adopting Kubernetes, but controlling resource consumption is just one small element of this story. What companies want to avoid doing is trying to take new technologies and use them to fall back into the old IT approach of command and control. Kubernetes should be seen as a way to make it easier to build and operate applications based on a microservice architecture, not as a way to control cloud adoption.

SEE ALSO: Cloudy with a chance of IncludeOS: “We want to provide an operating system for systems that only do one thing”

JAXenter: Jakarta EE has recently taken the cloud-native Java path. How important is it for a technology to be relevant to today’s cloud-first world?

Brian Johnson: A cloud-first world thrives on providing developers and engineers with easy access to best of class services and a friction-free approach to getting their job done. This story is furthered whenever technologies help achieve these goals, as with Jakarta EE taking the cloud-native Java path.

JAXenter: How important is it for a technology to be cloud-neutral? What do you think of the Fn project?

Brian Johnson: The short answer is that it depends. Sometimes it is good for a technology to be cloud-neutral, in other cases it doesn’t make sense.  As an IT professional you want a good mix of all options available so that you have maximum flexibility to get your job done. If the job calls for a technology that is cloud-neutral, you want mature options available to you, and certainly projects like Fn are great examples of smart people doing great work.

JAXenter: If cloud technology wants to continue to grow, tools should grow and adapt as well. What are the most mature tools right now?

Brian Johnson: The most mature tools for cloud are often the ones that started with a focus on cloud. Legacy tools that have tried to adapt to be cloud tools are often less mature because they weren’t written to support the diversity contained in the cloud, and often don’t provide the focus on flexibility and automation that is required in a multi-cloud world.

SEE ALSO: Don’t underestimate those instances — 35% of annual cloud spend is wasted!

Sometimes it is good for a technology to be cloud-neutral, in other cases it doesn’t make sense.  As an IT professional you want a good mix of all options available so that you have maximum flexibility to get your job done.

JAXenter: How can we capture the multi-cloud opportunity? What are the roadblocks to multi-cloud success?

Brian Johnson: The biggest roadblock is often cultural. Companies need to be bold in reinventing their IT departments to become amplifiers and enablers of digitally savvy business units. They need to open the gates, and get out of the way, and ensure that developers and engineers are empowered to go experiment and create.

IT departments need to approach IT, and more importantly, security and compliance, from a “trust, but verify” perspective. They need to back this cultural change with the skillsets, processes, and tools that are necessary to ensure that in this new self-service world that applications, and workloads, continue to be well-governed.

JAXenter: What do you think of serverless? Is it a “revolution of the cloud,” as Maciej Winnicki, Principal Software Engineer at Serverless Inc. told us last year?

Brian Johnson: It is an evolution of the cloud and should be an important part of every company’s portfolio, but it isn’t the right approach for every application and workload. Companies need to be pragmatic in their approach to cloud adoption.

You want to give your developers and engineers choice. One of those choices should be serverless, but it shouldn’t be the only choice.  Companies that try to force everything through the serverless aperture will quickly find that this doesn’t lead to consistently happy outcomes.

Thank you!

 

Application developers have entered a new era with the advent of cloud technology. If you want to meet the movers and shakers in the world of cloud computing, don’t miss JAX London, a four-day conference taking place October 8-11, 2018.

    DevOpsCon Whitepaper 2018

    Free: BRAND NEW DevOps Whitepaper 2018

    Learn about Containers,Continuous Delivery, DevOps Culture, Cloud Platforms & Security with articles by experts like Michiel Rook, Christoph Engelbert, Scott Sanders and many more.

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Author
Gabriela Motroc
Gabriela Motroc is editor of JAXenter.com and JAX Magazine. Before working at Software & Support Media Group, she studied International Communication Management at the Hague University of Applied Sciences.

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