Skytap, Devops, and the British Invasion
It’s official; Skytap has officially expanded into Europe! We’ve got outstanding boots on the ground with Chris Griggs, our new VP of Europe Middle East and Africa (EMEA), and Rick Cronin, our new Technical Director – both based in our new EMEA headquarters in London. Chris and Rick have extensive experience of having worked in the enterprise market throughout the region, and I wanted to learn more about their plans for introducing Skytap to the UK and beyond.
(The official press release for this announcement can be found here.)
Noel: Chris, Rick, it’s great to meet you! How did you find out about Skytap, and what attracted you to want to come on board?
Chris: I have been involved in a variety of DevOps initiatives, and I have seen a cross-section of enterprises, from financial services to telecommunication companies invest in DevOps—not only to reduce their operating costs but also to improve their ability to drive new revenue growth for their business. At HP Software, I managed the companies data center automation portfolio and also participated in the launch of their DevOps solutions. This experience has helped me understand not only the scale of the opportunity but also the challenges many organizations have in introducing these solutions.
In the early days, large enterprises tried to actively stop development teams from using their credit card and going to the cloud for infrastructure environments. Now, many organisations are actively looking at the cloud as a platform for all their non-production workloads. Skytap is one of the very few companies that I have seen that makes this a practical reality. The solution gives IT organisations security and control, while delivering users the services they need, and when they need it
Rick: I was actually a customer of Skytap five or so years ago, and I took a great interest in the company when Thor Culverhouse joined the company as CEO. I‘ve seen Skytap change from a nice technology company to having something very relevant to enterprise customers who are trying to manage expectations with DevOps, and are looking to improve the traditional/legacy SDLC of their most critical applications.
Noel: Those are excellent reasons to join! We recently asked employees from all departments here to share why they love working at Skytap, and many talked about how there’s just so much excitement about cloud computing. Is it just as hot of a topic in the UK?
Chris: Yes, and I bet even more so. European organizations have often been leaders in innovation and transformation. Take mobile for example. I remember getting my first mobile phone in 1989, but it was some time before this trend was extended into the USA—where of course pagers were the device of choice!
The technology shifts going on in the industry today are huge and I believe Europe will continue to be at the forefront in adopting these changes – be it DevOps, agile, continuous integration or other trends that help organizations gain competitive advantage and compete in today’s fast paced economy.
Noel: Rick, I wanted to learn a little more about your role as Skytap’s new Technical Director in the EMEA region. What all will your role involve?
Rick: Initially, my role will be to assist Chris with building the business here in EMEA. I will also be looking to build some key relationships with delivery partners to help our customers with their transformation to a more productive and cost efficient SDLC.
In my experience, (being responsible for building a private cloud for a UK bank) enterprises have spent a huge amount of money and effort building very clunky, limited, and expensive private/hybrid cloud solutions that simply haven’t addressed their clients needs. They’ve struggled to quickly provide consistent, configured dev/test application environments.
I will be looking to bring new, experienced consultants and architects into the company to ensure that the growth in EMEA matches that in the US.
Noel: I love it. Speaking of environments, we talk a lot about how so many are dealing with the constraints around physical dev/test environments, and how the bottlenecks surrounding provisioning and configuring them are so detrimental to the entire SDLC. I take it you’re both seeing teams dealing with these same constraints in the UK.
Chris: Yes, for sure. Provisioning time and faster application release cycles are both key drivers for the type of capabilities that Skytap provides. The adoption of agile processes and continuous integration is a key enabler, but at the same time creates a bottleneck in the SDLC. ITIL was, and still is, big in many European organizations, and the advent of DevOps is a real challenge for those that have embraced ITIL. We are now seeing infrastructure teams embrace DevOps as a way to deal with this challenge.
Noel: Lastly, and this is for you both, but Chris, in doing some research on you, I saw where our CEO said you have, “a very strong sense of how/why customers buy software.” I love that line, and I wondered if each of you would share what you feel that “how and why” is, and secondly, have you seen it change over the years?
Chris: That was a nice quote! But the reality is it comes from not just having worked in the software industry for quite some time, but also from really understanding how IT is used and managed in a multi-national customer environment. Rick, you can probably speak even more to this, with your experience working for an end user and being responsible for selecting software solutions.
Rick: I’ve seen the software selection, implementation, and vendor relationship change greatly over the last three decades. Customers need to show a real business case for the purchase of any software now and typically, the ROI needs to be shown in less than 12 months.
The implementation/adoption is now regarded as a joint responsibility between the customer and the vendor, and more and more, the vendor is expected to review and compare the projected business case with reality. As the Technical Director, I have to believe in the technology first and foremost, and I take an active role in ensuring that the customer is successful in their selection and adoption of our solutions.
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