David Hoff is the Chief Technology Officer and a co-founder of Cloud Sherpas. David leads corporate technology strategy and thought leadership across the organization. David has a deep knowledge of public cloud technologies, and he has spoken at numerous technology conferences. He holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering degree from Georgia Tech and an MBA in Technology Management. Previously, David was at Optimus Solutions (acquired by SoftChoice), where he was the Managing Director of eBusiness services. David is a lifelong native of Atlanta, GA.
In the unlikely event you haven’t already, meet David Hoff, co-founder and CTO of Cloud Sherpas, the global technology and advisory services company focused on all things cloud.
David was kind enough to take some time away from his primary function of building the next generation of cloud service providers to sit down and share his thoughts on the current state of cloud computing, the future of cloud, and his passion for cycling. Let’s all sit and learn.
What brought you to the cloud?
I like to say I started working in the cloud before the cloud was cool. My background is in enterprise IT. I’m a self-described “recovering Lotus Notes developer.” So, I’ve seen first-hand the results of investing in architecture of this nature – how the cloud dovetails with the aggressive growth goals so many companies have today.
But in seeing organizations begin to adopt cloud applications like Google Apps or Salesforce, it became clear that enterprise IT needed a fundamental reframing, and that IT could use the cloud to not only make their lives easier, but to elevate their role in the business.
For instance, there’s all this talk around “Shadow IT” as a scary thing. Shadow IT is really just employees empowered with credit cards and a cloud-based marketplace to advance their agenda. It’s not necessarily scary – though there are obvious risks – but Shadow IT is really an opportunity for IT to step up, own that domain, and enable success. To evolve from the department of “no” to the department of “now.”
Our recent study revealed that data stored in the cloud has increased 10x since 2014. Is this consistent with what you’re seeing?
Overall, I’d say we’re still relatively early in the process, but we’ve certainly crossed the threshold where the cloud is now accepted in the mainstream. Bigger enterprise shops that don’t always tend to be on the bleeding edge of technology are welcoming cloud technologies for a whole host of reasons. I think we’ll continue to see hyper-growth in the coming years. Many organizations are moving massive amounts of data to the cloud, so growth to the tune of 10x doesn’t come as a shock at all.
Cloud is no longer SaaS-centric.
Exactly. SaaS is where a lot of people start – from both an adoption standpoint and a security standpoint. But it’s just the beginning. For instance, think of an IT team realizing one of the big levers under their control is the employee directory and the process by which you onboard and provision users. So, here comes an IDaaS solution.
Or take Infrastructure as a Service. IaaS solutions are hard to argue with – the ease with which you can spin up an instance makes everyone’s lives easier. We can keep going with this, cloud is everywhere you look for efficiency.
What kind of hurdles do you see organizations dealing with when they look to “go cloud?”
Well, the obstacles are falling over time. Most of them aren’t even realistic anymore, they’re more “mental hurdles.” So many technology professionals – whether we’re talking about folks racking and stacking servers or security admins or CIOs – have such an on-prem mentality.
But, in the cloud, it’s a whole new world when it comes to how you manage the integrity of data, whether it’s APIs that are accessing what you’re doing, or the complex web of collaboration and frequency of interactions that impact the data – so many different things the classic IT approach doesn’t take into account.
The big question I see a lot of technology professionals asking is “How would I even know if something went wrong?” Visibility is a big part of it.
What do you find organizations care about when it comes to cloud security?
Security is now a board-room level conversation, having evolved from a line item to a strategic initiative. The consequences of poor security practices are very tangible and costly – and visibility around cybersecurity has definitely increased with all the high profile breaches.
Broadly speaking, transitioning to cloud infrastructure is about more than policy change – it’s part of a bigger transition, where IT (and security) needs to be looked at as a valuable part of the business rather than a cost center. Organizations that look at IT and security this way are more adaptable and successful at making this transition.
Care to share your cloud outlook for the next year?
With many organizations already using cloud technologies, I think the focus will be on optimization. The infrastructure has gained plenty of traction, but many folks are still waking up to the benefits. Cloud technologies give adopters unlimited horsepower – and that’s great – but, if it’s not used wisely, you’ll just be replicating the on-prem nightmare in the cloud.
Now, what can be done about this? First, get everything you can to the cloud: email, HR applications, your CRM, etc. Then, for the few things that are unique, like your homegrown applications, re-architect them in the cloud. This new application architecture will make all of our lives easier. I think organizations will do exactly that in the next 12-18 months.
All this talk about the cloud. What else keeps you going these days?
I’m an avid cyclist. I’m looking forward to participating in the 6 Gap Century later this month, which hits the highest mountain peaks in Georgia over the 100+ mile course. I started commuting on the bike several years ago to avoid Atlanta traffic. The rest of my time is spent trying to keep up with my two kids!
Where can people learn more about your thoughts on all things cloud, David?
Head over to our blog!