Drinking from the Firehose: Sun, Sand & Sandboxes

Posted by Pascal Joly August 12, 2016
Drinking from the Firehose: Sun, Sand & Sandboxes

It has been a little over a month in the midst of a hot and sunny California summer since I joined Quali.

Lior, my boss and Quali CEO, was scheduled to travel in early July soon after I joined. Wanting to ensure we spent some quality time before he left, he set up a meeting with the subject “Drinking from the Firehose”. We spend a couple of hours doing deep dives which was incredibly useful to me. Since then, I’ve gotten pulled into numerous meetings, met several new colleagues, customers and partners. It has been tremendous learning. But if he were to set up another meeting today, a month down the line, and used the same meeting subject line, I bet it would still be apt. I’d still be drinking from the firehose.

In some ways, what I feel is isn’t just what “newbies” on the job experience. It is representative of the industry at large. Everyone is drinking from the firehose.  And not just the traditional IT industry. Financial services, retail, healthcare, transportation and even, yes, government are all experiencing the winds of change as they look to technology for differentiating themselves. The only thing constant is change.

Not surprisingly, many equate change with disruption. Businesses with “cash cows” shudder at making changes that jeopardize their revenue stream to move in new directions that don’t have guaranteed outcomes, and risky bets may need to be place. But status quo is often not an option as Blockbuster, Kodak and Borders will all bear testimony.

Other are more willing to embrace change and place new bets with a promise to “fail fast” if those bets don’t work out. Status quo is NOT an option for them. It is fair to say their odds of staying relevant increase tremendously benefitting both their employees and customers. Some are even bolder willing to consciously disrupt themselves or parts of their business before they’re forced to do it. They end up both leading the way and serving as agents of change.

Fortunately, many of Quali’s customers fit in the latter bucket. They’re tremendous innovators using technology as a core differentiator and willing to re-invent themselves. Suffice to say Quali is in the same mold, having re-invented itself a couple of times, focusing on “where the puck is going rather than where the puck is”. This is reflected in its marquee customer base of several of the Global 100 and beyond.

Visiting Cisco Live in my second week at Quali in the desert sands of Las Vegas proved to be quite a revelation. In some ways it was like a home coming, as I am a Cisco alumnus, but it also gave me an opportunity to see things from an outside-in perspective. To its credit Cisco has stayed at the pinnacle of the networking industry for decades as it has continued to re-invent itself time and again. When asked a few years ago, at the peak of the SDN hype, when investors though that Cisco was too big to move quickly, I had responded that “Cisco had the wisdom of an elephant but agility of a cheetah”. Despite being a giant, it embodied the spirit of a startup in many ways. Fast forward to now, I can see Cisco still doing that, as it is placing emphasis on attracting new buying centers, making network and other infrastructure elements more open and the huge strides it is making in reaching out to the developer community, which a few years ago would have nothing to do with Cisco. In fact, Cisco DevNet is an outstanding example of the company placing a bet on how developers can engage with infrastructure “sandboxes”. These sandboxes have truly abstracted a lot of the underlying complexity and given tens of thousands of developers a playground that lets them imagine the possibilities of infrastructure as code.

Cisco Live - Kiran, Robbins

Cisco Live Team Fun

The applicability of sandboxes goes beyond self-service portals for developers to engage in. Today, the pace of change has dictated that development organizations move quickly to meet the needs of the business. While speed is valued, being reckless is not. This is where the whole movement of DevOps becomes strategically important. DevOps adds value and brings operational rigor to development organizations while still allowing them to move quickly with reduced risk. But DevOps is not an “on/off” switch that can be turned on overnight. It is a journey and requires discipline to build processes that can scale over time.

Sandboxes can help smoothen the DevOps journey, particularly during what I call as the “first mile” of DevOps around automating the Dev/Test aspects of the lifecycle, especially where real-world replicas of production environments need to be created quickly. It can also have applicability in enabling ecosystems, building portals for sales and marketing to deliver training, proof-of-concepts or demos that are configured on the fly.

Cloud Sandbox

Quali has evolved into becoming a leader for sandboxes that enable DevOps and BizOps automation. Its architecture brings the ability to model, orchestrate and deploy portable environments that for the full stack – physical and virtual infrastructure as well as applications on-premise and across private, public and hybrid clouds. Customers that are planning for cloud migration, application modernization, digitization or embracing the Internet of Things (IoT) – all benefit from having increased rigor and automation during the DevOps journey.

As summer starts to wind down, I’m due to visit the desert sands again at VMworld. Quali will be present there.

I’m sure I’ll still be drinking from the firehose – and loving it!