Podcast Ep. 96: Cloud Adoption and Migration with Daniel Novelo

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Episode Description:

In today’s episode, Dan Neumann is joined by AgileThought’s managing director of the Run practice, Daniel Novelo. In his role, Daniel is in charge of defining the vision and strategic direction of the Cloud & Managed Services Portfolio at AgileThought by understanding the market trends, designing the Digital Products & Services that our customers require, and by delivering the revenue and profit that AgileThought budgets. He also designs, coordinates, and executes business plans with AgileThought’s partners, sales, and delivery teams to achieve its yearly objectives.

In their conversation, Daniel speaks about his role as managing director of the Run practice at AgileThought, explains what the Run practice is, and shares the different ways that organizations have started down their path to cloud adoption. He also addresses some of the possible risks associated with migrating to the cloud, how to mitigate these risks, the benefits and opportunities the cloud opens up, and how AgileThought works with companies in migrating to the cloud or how to optimize cloud usage.

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Key Takeaways

  • What is the Run practice? What does it do?
    • It delivers value to customers by providing Cloud & Managed Services and outsourcing the IT operations of its customers (with a modern approach and a mission-critical mindset)
    • They complement the portfolio of AgileThought’s Transform, Build, and Run by operating and maintaining software, applications, and the underlying infrastructure in production environments
    • There are dedicated teams to review the cost and complexity of their customers to operate their systems
    • They accelerate the adoption of the cloud with a set of services that go from the strategic aspects (like cloud design, cloud foundation, & assessments) to building strategies and performing the migrations to the cloud for their customers 
    • Once their customers are in the cloud, they help modernize their business applications for optimal cloud performance
  • Why cloud adoption is becoming increasingly popular and why companies want to migrate to it:
    • It’s important to understand the reasons behind why some companies are adopting clouds as well as the challenges and implications companies can face depending on the type of workload they want to bring to the cloud 
    • It’s nearly impossible to find an organization that doesn’t at least partially rely on cloud services (especially now, during the pandemic, it is becoming more popular than ever)
    • Modern workplace platforms are really encouraging to use their cloud versions
    • The adoptions of cloud services has been key in accelerating the migration of enterprise workloads to the cloud
    • Enterprise workloads show that cloud storage is the most widely adopted
    • You can easily scale up the cloud storage within minutes and then scale it down when needed
    • A cloud database setup empowers distributed teams because the team members working remotely can conveniently access data through the internet to perform their tasks
    • Publishing your dev and test environments to the cloud is also becoming increasingly popular
    • Brining environments to the cloud gives the ability to use only what you need when you need it
    • Cloud technology can be a massive enable for agile teams (as you are able to spin up an environment, do the deploy, do the validation, and tear it all down once it’s done)
    • Analytics and big data are huge drivers for the cloud (because when the data resides in the cloud it’s easier to locate it, consume it, and embed it into analytic solutions)
  • Daniel on cloud risks and security:
    • Having partners who can walk organizations through an adoption/sticking their toes into the waters of the cloud is very helpful in showing how secure it is
    • More than 90% of cloud breaches are at the user’s fault
    • Possible security risks: Loss of data (passwords, banking information, intellectual property, and other sensitive data), exposing confidential information (that leads to regulatory or legal actions against an enterprise), malware and ransom attacks, an employee who has left the company still having access to files and information (however, there are tools to mitigate and control this access)
    • Many risks can be mitigated through tools that can secure confidential documents in real-time
  • Tools and systems that are lagging behind in cloud adoption:
    • A lot of companies still rely on legacy systems (but there are strategies to migrate these companies to the cloud [though additional scaffolding may be necessary])
      • Implementing APIs (and securing them) can be a way to bring a legacy system to the cloud
  • How AgileThought works with companies that are new to the cloud:
    • Customers should first perform a cloud readiness assessment for their application and infrastructure
      • It is helpful to make an inventory of all of the assets within the company and identify which of them are supported in the cloud and which need an upgrade
      • The assessment will also help map dependencies to understand the interfaces between all of the customer’s systems, which is key for developing a cloud strategy
    • Time and effort should be invested into designing a desired state/a landing zone in applying the architecture best practices
    • AgileThought helps their customer establish their cloud foundation and makes sure to include all of the security and compliance requirements
    • After this, AgileThought helps the customer build their rational decision map (figuring out the path forward, “bucket by bucket”)
    • AgileThought helps the customer identify which applications they want to modernize or refactor so that they really capture the benefits of the cloud

Mentioned in this Episode

Transcription [This transcription is auto-generated and may not be completely accurate in its depiction of the English language or rules of grammar.]

Intro: [00:03] Welcome to Agile Coaches’ Corner by AgileThought. The podcast for practitioners and leaders seeking advice to refine the way they work and pave the path to better outcomes. Now here’s your host, coach and agile expert, Dan Neumann.

Dan Neumann: [00:17] Welcome to this episode of the Agile Coaches’ Corner. I’m your host Dan Neumann, and today I’m joined by AgileThought’s managing director of the Run practice, Daniel Novelo. Thanks for joining Daniel.

Daniel Novelo: [00:29] Thank you. Thank you, Dan. It’s a pleasure to be here. Good afternoon.

Dan Neumann: [00:33] Thank you. I have in a couple of podcast episodes mentioned that I run I’m a runner. That is not what we’re talking about when we run, when we say run practice at AgileThought, uh, maybe you could just give a little bit of an introduction to what, uh, what the run practice is and does to give some context.

Daniel Novelo: [00:52] Of course, thank you. Well, let’s talk about what we do in the Run practice. We deliver value to our customers by providing end to end cloud managed services, and then basically outsourcing the IT operations of our customers with a modern approach and a mission critical mindset. Uh, we compliment the portfolio of AgileThought transform build and run, and by, by operating and maintaining software applications and, and the underlying infrastructure in production environments, we also provide dedicated support teams, uh, to reduce the cost and complexity of our customers, um, to operate their systems. And, uh, we also accelerate the adoption of the cloud with, with a set of services that go from strategic aspects like cloud, uh, design, cloud foundation, uh, assessments to building strategies and actually performing the migration to the cloud of our customers. And, uh, and once the, the assets of our customers are in the cloud, we have, uh, we have them modernize their business applications for optimal cloud performance. That is in a nutshell, what we do in, in, in our Run practice in AgileThought.

Dan Neumann: [02:16] That’s very cool. Thank you for, for sharing that you touched on two things in there. That for me, I think are maybe challenge some assumptions that people have. One of them is, uh, A, the cloud’s easy it’s, it’s this magical place where you just click a button and everything’s fine. Right? You always see the sexy Amazon web service CC, the Microsoft cloud commercials, and they make it look like it’s, it’s simple and magical and all your problems go away. And then the other piece I think I hear is, well, everybody’s already in the cloud. You know, every, like all the cool kids are there already, um, that, that is somehow not a new thing. And then maybe you could explore those A little bit with us.

Daniel Novelo: [03:01] Yes. Yes. Well, the cloud computing it’s, it’s booming, and we know that in that area, there are many, many trends that we can analyze and discuss. According to research and predictions, the cloud expenses are expected to amount up to 70% of the tech spending by, by 2020 by the end of this year. So we’re living in exciting times where we’re, we are, we’re witnessing a momentum of massive migrations to the cloud, but nevertheless, there are some workloads that tend to go faster and other ones that are going to take a little longer to get there. So as, as we reflect on, who’s already in the cloud and who’s not, and it’s important for us to understand what are the reasons why the companies are adopting clouds, identify the inhibitors of the cloud and what kind of challenges and implications that companies can face depending on the type of workload they want to bring to the cloud. Um, and yeah, as you were mentioning, we see all these commercials and everybody’s thinking about the cloud. It’s almost impossible to find an organization that doesn’t rely at least partially on cloud services. So an average employee working an enterprise uses 20 plus cloud services in the daily job and starting from video conferencing, especially now during the pandemic, Platforms like teams, Zoom, Google meet, WebEx, they have become so popular and we’re so used to them. Now it also content file sharing tools like onedrive Dropbox, iCloud. There they’re also cloud services that are very popular. And, uh, and lastly the, the modern workplace platforms like, like, uh, office, Excel, PowerPoint, now they are running they’re, they’re, they’re really encouraging people to use the cloud version of them and all these, uh, all these adoption of cloud services have been key, uh, to accelerate the migration of enterprise workloads to the cloud. So if we double click on those enterprise workloads, uh, we’re going to see that the most popular one is cloud storage. The reason why it is so widely adopted, I think it is because it is a, it is a perfect backup plan for businesses, you know, uh, it, it, when you’re storing your information in the cloud, the cloud will automatically back it up for you at a remote location, and you can easily retrieve and get access to it in any time without, without worrying about losing it. And that, and that’s pretty much a end user scenario. But when you think about the enterprise scenarios, we think about the database, it’s not too complex to decouple a database from a system and lift it to the cloud. That’s why I think it’s a very popular scenario because it, uh, when companies receive a lot of traffic and they need more space during peak hours and unexpected times, you can easily scale up, uh, the, the cloud storage within minutes, and then scale it down when needed. And so, uh, another reason for this popularity, I think it’s because it empowers, uh, distributed teams with, with a cloud database set up, the team members, working from a remote location can conveniently access data through the internet, uh, and, um, to perform their tasks. So, uh, I think that’s the, that is one scenario that it is, it is well adopted. Uh, another, another pretty popular scenario is the dev and test environments publishing your dev and test environments to the cloud. And that was, I was going through some articles in Gartner, and I was finding very interesting, uh, statistics that up to 30% of the servers in the traditional IT organizations are utilized by QA teams. And then if that that’s a, that’s a big number, right? But guess what? Most of them only run at a three to 5% utilization. So this is the perfect scenario, and it is a no brainer for customers to decide, to bring those environments to the cloud, because it gives us the ability to use only what we need when we need it, instead of having a very poorly used environment that it’s sitting IDL most of the time.

Dan Neumann: [07:32] Well, we had, um, not we, uh, AgileThought in, in a previous life I was at, we were, uh, it was a Scrum team, several Scrum teams working on a fairly, uh, data intensive application. And one of the impediments, the team had was a lack of a QA environment, independent of some other really important systems. And, and this is, uh, an impediment that team kept running up against, and it was roughly a couple terabytes of storage that was going to be needed. And as a team member, we kept giving the architect a little bit of grief, cause he kept talking about how expensive it was to bring in physical hardware. And we said, well, we can go down to Best Buy. We can buy you the stink and drive that we need, and we’ll just go, we’ll go plug it in somewhere. And obviously an enterprise quality hardware, that’s not a workable solution, but like you were saying, cloud technology can enable that couple terabytes to be spun up used and torn down and a massive enabler for agile teams.

Daniel Novelo: [08:35] Absolutely. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. I am a developer as well. And have, I came across that scenario several times, you know, it’s so good now that we have the cloud, because it enables agile and DevOp methodologies, which impact directly the operational efficiency efficiency, and yeah. In the traditional world, do you need a large team of IT admins to provision these physical servers and resources for dev and test purposes. And it only translated into costly processes, but, but now we have a lot of continuous integration tools in the market that can automatically provision these complete application stack replicates within minutes via self service portals and APS. This is why this is the second most popular workload that you’re going to find in the cloud today.

Dan Neumann: [09:25] The second most popular workload is with, with the dev and the QA

Daniel Novelo: [09:30] Dev and test environments. Yeah. Yeah.

Dan Neumann: [09:32] And like you were saying, the, in a continuous integration, continuous deployment pipeline, then being able to spin up that environment, do the deploy, do the validation. And then when it’s done tear it down, is that a fair characterization?

Daniel Novelo: [09:48] Absolutely. That is the advantage that you sometimes lose. It is very easy to lose track of those environments when you have a large, uh, uh, data center. And it is quite simple to, you know, forget about that and keep on incurring those costs. And, uh, and the cloud, it’ll give you the capability to automate all the decommissioning of cloud and of, of dev and test environments when they’re no longer needed. So that’s another reason why a lot of our customers are, are taking dev and test environments as their, as their, uh, the way to test the cloud. And in their place, I would say that analytics and big data are big, a huge driver for the cloud because when the data resides in the cloud, it’s easier to locate it, to consume it, to embedded it into, into analytics solutions and, you know, work directly in your transection, transactional data. Sometimes it’s, it’s a good practice. Sometimes it’s not a good practice to work in the transactional data, but what it does, the good part of that, it’s it empowers your users to build a doc reports for example, and, um, and break the dependency from developers to design and deploy, create reports. So having these data available in the cloud has been a key driver for a lot of self service analytics platforms like Power BI from Microsoft, Tableau, Click. And, um, and these, uh, these benefits, uh, take, take a bigger role when, when we’re talking about big data, because big data it’s manipulating petabytes of data and the clouds and scalable environment makes it possible to deploy these data intensive, intensive applications, that power business analytics. So these are the three categories that, that, um, that really are popular in the cloud. And of course we have ERP systems, CRM platforms, eCommerce solutions that are in the cloud, a lot of important data reported from their prem version to the cloud, but other, uh, there were born in the cloud, you know, they came up with the cloud version of it. And, uh, and those are, I would say that in general, the 70% that we were talking about that it’s, uh, the IT spend is going to.

Dan Neumann: [12:07] Yeah, that’s, that’s such a significant number. I think you were talking about some of these hybrid environments would be the right way to describe them then, right the way where maybe the database has moved off to the cloud, but other capabilities are, are being still continuing to run on premises on, on your own organization’s hardware, right?

Daniel Novelo: [12:26]
Yes. Yes. Look for those assets that we are not seeing today a lot in the cloud is because, uh, they’re within industries that deal with very sensitive information, such as law firms, medical practices, accountants, I think a lot of government, also a little, uh, you know, uh, finding blockers and trying not, not to embrace the cloud as rapidly. And the main concern is, is their security. So the decision of bringing those systems to the cloud becomes more challenging, and, and it faces additional complexity. And that requires of course, knowledge and preparation and a hybrid environment. That’s you were mentioning it’s a good solution for these industries because the hybrid first I would, I would like to kind of define that the hybrid cloud, the hybrid cloud is a khyber architecture. It incorporates the orchestration and management across two or more environments, so that the environment includes at least one private and one public cloud. And the Khyber cloud is intended to consolidate these it resources within all the environments and expose them to the organization in our govern and structure management an Instructure manner. I’m sorry. So the hybrid cloud is not just connecting your data center to a public environment. So, and when, when you have this ability to really orchestrate and manage the resources and expose them in this govern way, these, uh, these really helps customers embrace the cloud little by little and, uh, and move workloads back and forth, uh, in an easy manner. Therefore, there there’s a transformation in the data center, uh, to any the provision in mechanism within the data center, in order to, to happen in order to have the hybrid environment. So, um, this really enables companies to, to be able to have, uh, within the data center, the sensitive information and exposing services that our customers, and they’re easier to consume.

Dan Neumann: [14:59] As you were talking about that, there’s, there’s a phrase or an acronym called FUD fear, uncertainty and doubt. And I think what you were describing was some of that fear, uncertainty and doubt around “if we put sensitive information in the cloud, is it secure?” Um, how do we connect back in a secure way? Are we still compliant with any kind of audits or regulatory concerns? And that’s a situation where I think having partners and information who can walk organizations through an adoption through sticking their toes into the waters of the cloud to use that metaphor, just kind of helping them up that learning of, Hey, here’s, here’s how you do it. And here’s how you do it in a secure way, because the us department of defense uses the cloud. I’m assuming that they have checked a whole bunch of security related boxes when they did that. So it can be extremely secure.

Daniel Novelo: [15:57] Yes. Yes. The main risk of going to the cloud when you’re not ready are the threats that are targeting data and privacy. They’re therefore running it as like your cloud environment should be the number one concern. When you’re thinking about embracing the cloud and having the right partner next to you. It’s very important. According to Gartner’s cloud computing stats, more than 90% of the breaches that are, that are out there are our users faults more than the providers. You have to make sure that your users well-educated, that you have processes that you can communicate them properly. But, if we want to mention the security risks, that the most popular ones, I would say that the loss of data, including passwords, banking, information, intellectual property, and other sensitive data that no one wants others have access to and exposing confidential information that, that leads to recall the regulatory and legal actions against an enterprise, such as you’re violating HIPAA or FERPA, it can become a big problem. And that is another typical scenario, malware and ransom attacks. And, uh, and also insider tests. For example, when an employee, uh, stores confidential information of the company in their personal cloud and uses it after leaving employment for, for, for another business, that that is also a typical scenario of a breach of a threat, you know, that you should mitigate. And there are a lot of tools out there to control the access and the authorized access to the documents, and even keep those, uh, guards after the, the, the, the employee has left the company.

Dan Neumann: [17:53] It used to just be things like disabling the USB drives for fear that a, um, we called them portable data theft devices. You know, somebody would come in and plug in an external drive, a thumb drive, uh, a multi terabyte drive and pull data under their, their own physical stuff. But you were alluding to the changes then of we just shovel it over to my own personal cloud if it’s not securely maintained.

Daniel Novelo: [18:18] That’s right. Or eventually we could consider implementing tools that secure in real time, the doc, the confidential documents today, you can, you can always request a password from an active directory before opening, opening the document. Uh, and there are a lot of solutions out there to help you secure that documentation. When they’re copied to a hard drive or to a cloud environment, they will still require a valid credential in order to provide access to the documents. So these are the kinds of things that you have to consider when moving, uh, when talking about security.

Dan Neumann: [18:56] So we’ve talked about some of the technologies and the different ways organizations have started down the path to cloud, whether it’s with their dev and QA environments cause there are a lot of capacity and they’re lightly utilized. We talked about putting data storage into the cloud, you know, it’s there, it’s cheap. Um, I’m curious at some point to learn more about what went wrong with Agarmen. I don’t know that that was cloud related or not when they’re, when all their data blew up, but we all could go down that hole for now. But I’m curious what, what you’re seeing is maybe some of the systems and tools that are lagging behind in cloud adoption. Like who’s not quite there yet.

Daniel Novelo: [19:40] I would say that legacy systems, a lot of companies still rely on legacy systems and, uh, or systems that require very low latency like, uh, financial trading legacy systems. Most likely will be the latest ones that will be, that will be seen migrating to the cloud. And today there are strategies if we want to mitigate, uh, I’m sorry, we want to migrate those type of systems to the cloud, but we need to consider that we might need additional scaffolding to bring those scanner systems to the cloud. And that’s why it’s taken a little longer for that. For example, in order to meet, uh, low latency requirements for, for financial trading systems and so on and so forth, we’re gonna need additional connectivity between the data center and the cloud in order to meet these latency requirements. So many, many cloud vendors today offer these, uh, private connectivity in order to address the latency challenge, Amazon with direct connect, for example, Microsoft with express route, and there’s really two other SDs latency requirements. And another other A is 400 type of systems that we’re not seeing embracing the cloud has got to do a lot I think with the modernization of that, uh, those legacy systems per se, where the manufacturers and, and, uh, are thinking, uh, re considering bringing up and, uh, the modern version of it. Uh, we’re seeing a lot of APIs, uh, exposing, uh, legacy systems and really what we need to consider there when we’re talking about APIs is the risk that you might, you might get. Um, unauthorized access to an insecure APIs are also very important, uh, security vulnerabilities in the cloud. So, uh, where, if we want to talk about how to implement, uh, APIs as a, as a way to bring the legacy to the cloud, uh, we have to think about how we’re going to secure those APIs and encryption, uh, security policies and, uh, strong authentication activity monitoring access control. Now all API must be secured, but that is a, that is another way to, to think about how to expose my legacy system through a cloud infrastructure. Uh, but, but I think that’s, that’s the reason why we’re not seeing a lot of the legacy systems are going to be the last ones we’re going to see migrate to cloud.

Dan Neumann: [22:26] No, that makes sense. So, so latency things that need to move with extreme speed. I have a friend of mine who is part of a very small in number of people, but they do high frequency trading of oil commodities, and every little nanosecond you can squeeze out of the performance, improves their algorithms, chance of winning in that, in that high frequency market. And so, yeah, the length of network cables is a factor in those, and it’s just real extreme speeds. So that’s pretty cool. And then you were talking about kind of these big legacy systems. Um, and then you went on, you talked about, you know, encryption and policies and a number of different factors. And that got me thinking of organizations that might not be particularly large in number of employees. There’s a lot of specializations, potentially a lot of knowledge across all the different pieces that need to be configured correctly, so that you’re able to leverage the benefits of the cloud promises and not get some of the downsides. So maybe you could talk a little bit about how, um, how companies can get up to speed and, and of course, a little selfishly, what, like, well, how does AgileThought work with companies that are maybe new to the cloud? They don’t have an army of cloud experts already to, to go attack their new opportunity.

Daniel Novelo: [23:42] Yeah, I, the first thing I recommend this for, for customers is that they perform a cloud readiness assessment for their application and their infrastructure. Uh, it is, it is always interesting to make an inventory of, of all the assets within the company and identify which of them are supported in the cloud, which of them need an operator. The lack of support if they are migrated to the cloud, things like that, uh, the assessments should, should help you identify and not dependencies as well. That is a very important part of, of a, a fun assessment to understand what are the interfaces between all your, your systems. And this is crucial when you’re creating a cloud strategy, because you don’t want, you don’t want to find yourself in a situation where your application was successfully migrated, but it wasn’t properly configured or connected to other systems because you didn’t consider all the underlaying integrations. So after you, you make sure you have enough after that, I would suggest that you invest enough time and effort designing a desired state, a landing song, applying the architecture best practices. And that is really a lot of what we do with, with our customers, helping them establish their cloud foundations and the desired state and making sure we’ll include all the security and compliance requirements. Once, once you have that, and then you can start building your rationalization map.

Dan Neumann: [25:22] Yeah. What’s the rationalization map? Sorry, just for folks who might not know what that is.

Daniel Novelo: [25:33] When you, when you’re talking about rationalizing, uh, your report, the folio. It goes to how to, how am I going to consolidate systems that eventually are duplicated? How am I gonna, uh, group my applications and my assets and these rationalization map it also eventually includes how am I gonna evolve, uh, my systems so that they achieve our desired state, uh, in, in these rationalization, uh, maps, we, we create, uh, migration groups. For example, we, we identify which are the applications that we can just lift and shift, to bring them immediately to the cloud and start capturing values and start learning, and, uh, and then make an iterative approach for migrating the next bucket, uh, of, of, of, uh, applications. And these second bucket, it might require additional fixes might require a rearchitecting or refactoring approach where you change some pieces, make them compatible change the archetype of the application and even consider modifying a, an application that is running in, so that it goes to platform as a service architecture. And these are the type of things that, that, that, uh, we typically are going to see in a rationalization, how are we going to rationalize our portfolio and make it a more modern, bring it to a more modern state and eventually, uh, make it run in the cloud with all optimal cloud performance and less maintenance. That is also part of what we want to see when you go to the cloud that, uh, you are going to live in a more automated environment and you’re going to require less maintenance.

Dan Neumann: [27:32] That’s cool. So you are describing, you know, there’s the cloud readiness assessment, identifying what those dependencies are, then figuring out kind of the, the path forward. And it’s like you said, bucket by bucket. They’re very incremental way of embracing the cloud where you can you get your quick wins and then maybe something with more complexity and more complexity after that.

Daniel Novelo: [27:56] That’s right. And in the end, just identifying which applications you want to modernize, what would you want to refactor so that they really capture the benefits of the cloud, like elasticity, like scaling, like self healing. Those, those are the last part of the, of the, of the formula, the rationalization, but it will help you obtain the best cloud performance for the applications and really have a modern portfolio running in the cloud.

Dan Neumann: [28:25]
Very cool. Daniel, thank you for taking some time to talk about the cloud technology and some of the different ways that organizations can get from where they are to embracing some of those benefits and those opportunities that the cloud makes available for them.

Daniel Novelo: [28:42]
Oh, absolutely. Thank you for having here. And we’re looking forward the opportunity of speaking at the next event.

Dan Neumann: [28:52] Always. Yeah, no, thank you very much. Take care.

Outro: [28:56] This has been the Agile Coaches’ Corner podcast brought to you by AgileThought. The views, opinions and information expressed in this podcast are solely those of the hosts and the guests, and do not necessarily represent those of AgileThought. Get the show notes and other helpful tips for this episode and other episodes at

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