QualiFYI | ep. 2: Quali CTO Explains Why Uber and Airbnb Aren’t Tech Companies

June 7, 2023
10 min

This month’s QualiFYI episode features Quali’s own CTO, Maya Ber Lerner, who is the resident expert on all things #EnvironmentasaService. I learn something new every time I chat with Maya, and I’m excited for you all to get her hot take on digital transformation (and why it’s not all about technology).  Check out the video below!

 QualiFYI [ep. 2]: Quali CTO Shares Why Uber and Airbnb Aren’t Tech Companies 


Let’s start talking about something that everybody has been talking about—digital transformation. What is it? Why do we care about it? And what is the transformation that everyone’s discussing?

Maya: That’s a good question and, indeed, an overused term. Digital transformation is about how everything is becoming about technology. It’s not about technology, really, it’s about our businesses. So, if you see companies like Uber and Airbnb and WeWork, there’s this question, is this a tech company or is it taxi company with an app? But, the truth is that our reality today is that all these companies are actually, they have their business but they also have an app or multiple apps, right, because this is what drives customer experience that their customers are expecting to get, but this also means that they need to be a very technology focused organization, right. From someone that had zero developers and maybe, very limited infrastructure and cloud consumption a few years ago, suddenly you’re an organization that thinks about applications, about development, about having hundreds and thousands of developers, that’s transformation, right? So this part’s real.

That’s an interesting point that the Ubers and Airbnbs of the world consider themselves tech companies when, in fact, they are companies with an app. Does that mean that companies that don’t have an app are irrelevant nowadays?

Maya: Well, I wouldn’t say anyone is irrelevant, right, but as customers, you and I expect to be serviced through our mobile phones for most things, right, which means that any business that wants to serve us and does that without applications, may have a problem. So, I think it’s quite obvious that most businesses need to have more technology as part of what they do, but it doesn’t mean they are a technology company, it means they are a company.

We just wouldn’t know or wouldn’t be able to consume the services. So, this is the world that we live in and this means you have developers, you have infrastructure, you need to get infrastructure to developers to testers to test automation to CI/CD pipeline, to the production environment and that’s a whole set of problems that a lot of organizations did not have five years ago.

Which will likely lead to a lot of bottlenecks, right? You’re bringing all of these components in that weren’t there previously, what are these kind of bottlenecks that will happen whenever people are trying to transform their businesses digitally?

Maya: We have businesses that are becoming more technology oriented. They want to deliver applications fast to the market, which means they need to introduction code changes fast, they need to deploy them to production and this means everyone needs infrastructure environment. They need development environment, they need test environment, they need production environments and they need it fast, but when you try to match that with the reality where sometimes in order to get that, people need to open a request ticket, right, or to write an email to someone and to wait. That’s a problem. It creates a bottleneck, obviously, and then it creates shadow IT or shadowy IT, something that I heard said today, which means that the people are not waiting for you, as IT for example, or whoever is responsible for serving them with the environment, to be ready to give it to them. They’re like, I need it now and they get it now in a whole bunch of ways, right. So, this creates bottlenecks on one hand but on the other hand, it creates a problem of control. How do you make that secure? How do you make sure the costs are under control? How do you make sure access control is in place? And this is a very, very big problem for digital transformation.

It sounds like a big problem and you said environment about 20 times in that last question, so tell us, what is an environment and how does it fit in to all this?

Maya: Environment, well, everyone knows what environment is, actually, because if I tell you development environment, you know, right. Test environment, production environment, everyone knows that. So an environment could be either one of them. It’s actually about the business. It’s all the components that are needed in order for someone to get their job done. Their job could be development, could be testing, could be production, right, in production environment, but the point is, that whatever these components may be, and they could be applications, they could be third-party services, they could be different test tools, right, they could be virtualized data that you have in some of the environments and of course, the infrastructure that it’s all on, whether we’re talking about Kubernetes and containers or cloud services or cloud instances, or whatever, right. Anything that is in this bundle is the environment. And the environment is about the business, it’s about a person coming in the morning and saying, “Okay, I need to do some job “and I need something to do it on.” And it’s not about just Kubernetes or just AWS or just Azure, it’s about getting your business to be faster and I think that’s the important thing about environments.

That makes a lot of sense. So then, how does Environment as a Service solve these sort of bottlenecks that you mentioned earlier?

MayaEnvironment as a Service means that you have this environment entity that I talked about earlier and now you’re thinking, how can I get that to business processes faster? And just imagine what happens if everyone can get something that looks a lot like production environment at a click of a button. What does it do to your business?

A lot. 

Maya: Yeah, I mean, if this ideal situation happens, it could change everything, right, because everyone can do everything at the same time. You can develop in production environment, you can test production environment and then you deploy what you tested and that’s the new production environment, right. So, in order to get to this ideal situation, we need to somehow get to a point that we can actually deliver this entity, this environment to anyone that needs it very quickly. That’s Environment as a Service.

What a world.