BizTech BizTech Podcasts

45. So you're in Azure, now what? – with Aaron Bock

November 30, 2022

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Listen in as we talk with Aaron Bock of Opkalla and how he went from an IT Accounting job to starting Opkalla where they solve infrastructure and technology problems. They have a deep focus around Microsoft and an in-depth understanding of the infrastructure provider landscape. We talk roadblocks, deals, and more!

Transcript of episode can be found below.

Josh Lupresto (00:01):
Welcome to the podcast that is designed to fuel your success in selling technology solutions. I’m your host, Josh Lupresto, SVP of Sales Engineering, at Telarus, and this is Next Level BizTech. All right, everybody. Welcome. We are back on another cloud track. Excited to be here today with somebody else that has a cool mic. Also does a podcast and can talk cloud. This is, this might be like a trifecta here. So Aaron, Aaron Bock of Upcall. Thanks for coming on, man.

Aaron Bock (00:33):
Yeah, thanks for having me, Josh. Really excited for this one. That’s a sweet intro that you do.

Josh Lupresto (00:39):
Hey, I, I, I gotta try to keep up with the It Matters podcast, man. So I’m doing the best I can over here.

Aaron Bock (00:45):
We cheat. We we outsource the intro so it’s not my voice.

Josh Lupresto (00:49):
Oh, secrets. People are learning. They’re getting secrets. Fair enough. Right? We’re adding value.

Aaron Bock (00:54):
Well, I think they’d figure it out real quick. It’s a, it’s a, it’s a female’s voice right off the bat, so I’m not that good. Fair,

Josh Lupresto (01:01):
Fair, fair enough. All right, so today we’re talking about Azure. We’re talking about cloud. I, if you tuned into the first episode of this track, we got Kobe Phillips, who leads out the Telarus Cloud practice talking about what we’re doing you know, and, and what our purview on, on this is. And then we heard from one of our providers of, of their play and Azure, their modernization strategy, the different things that they can do. And now we get to the good part here where we get to hear from Aaron and, and his purview on cloud and how he approaches this. And so, Aaron, maybe if you can kick us off a little bit. I always love to hear how everybody got started in this space. Were you always destined to do this? Did you, did you stumble into this? What’s your path?

Aaron Bock (01:42):
Yeah, no, definitely not destined to do this. And it’s, it’s, it’s funny, I love to hear the story of people’s paths, how they got there. But for me personally, I went to college as a finance major. I took a job at a big four accounting for firm thinking I was doing, kind of auditing for financials. And it ended up being, it auditing, they called it risk risk assurance, which there’s no way I would’ve known that was it unless they told me. And I maybe didn’t listen . So I ended, I ended up auditing kinda IT systems access change management like monitoring controls. And after a while realized I didn’t really like, I liked the tech, I liked what the IT stuff was, and kind of listening to the customer’s problems, I didn’t like just the endless amounts of documentation testing.

Aaron Bock (02:32):
And so at that point in my career, I switched into a sales and I was selling for a data center maintenance third party data center, maintenance company. Very small niche in a market that exists in a lot of companies back, you know, before cloud was a thing. So everyone had on-prem data centers, servers would get older, we would support them. And I think along the way, what I realized was typically tech trends, the ones that catch on, they take a little while and you hear about them for a long time. Mm-Hmm. . And I kept hearing like every place I was at, like, no, you know, cloud’s not gonna totally disrupt us. Like it’s actually helping us, blah. And when you hear people try to spin something like that, you kind of know it’s coming. Mm-Hmm. . And so I remember at the company I was at, they would stand up on stage and say, no, everyone moving to AWS is great for us.

Aaron Bock (03:25):
And it’s like, really? Like we support on-prem servers. Like I’m, I’m really surprised to hear that, but I mean, in theory, like, yes, there’s more compute out there, but it’s, it’s consolidated at at less places. And so I think their point was the market was growing. But anyways, long story short, I, I knew what, what where I wanted to be was somewhere where the cloud was happening and where we were, we were on the cutting edge or we were on the front side of the curve. And I still think we’re on the very much the front side of cloud. I think there’s going to be a lot that changes over the next 10 years. Not sure what it is, but I still think people, especially in, depending on the part of the country you’re in, like I’m in North Carolina, and I would say we as a state are in generally in general, further behind in the cloud journey. Then like if you take a San Fran or a, a New York or a DC; they’re just much further ahead in the cloud journey in general.

Josh Lupresto (04:25):
So did you know when, when you say you, you went from IT auditing and accounting, and you said, I jumped into sales. Did, did you ever picture yourself in sales, any previous sales experience before? Or did you just go, I think I’d be good at this?

Aaron Bock (04:40):
I, I kind of thought I would be able to do it, but it was really one of those, I, I forget the, the exercise, but it was one of those kind of like assessment exercises they do. We were at training for managers and they split us up. We, we filled out some, you know, this is what your personality’s like, and of like a hundred people in the room. I was the only person standing in this one quadrant. And I asked the trainer, I said, why am I the only person there in the quadrant? And he said, well, most of the other people in your quadrant left go do sales. And I’m like, , I’ve been thinking about that. That’s crazy. So it wasn’t really long after that that I had my wife and I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, and then I switched into sales.

Josh Lupresto (05:25):
Awesome. Love that. All right. So tell me about Opkalla. How did it start?

Aaron Bock (05:30):
Yeah, so we started in 2019. We, there’s three founders, myself, Jim Campbell and Bryce Olray. And then Steve Irmish joined us slightly after that. But we started really we, the original idea was, hey, we just want to be a little bit more advisory to customers in the third party maintenance space. And then we kind of stumbled across Doug Crocker, who’s now at Telarus, and he was explaining to us, you know, this is, this is all the things that we do. And it’s like, whoa, this is crazy. So we went from just this niche of third party maintenance into, okay, these are all the providers that we were supporting, we worked with. And so our whole goal is to be a trusted advisor, help customers really understand like, why are they doing things? What are they trying to do? Is there a better way?

Aaron Bock (06:22):
Let’s not just, let’s not just show you Dell or Cisco. And not to say that those OEMs are bad, by the way, because they’re not, they’re great, great technology, and I’m, I’m not a a fan of people who knock technologies or, or, or downplay, but there, what I don’t like is the bias that we would see. And so, you know, we were, we kind of started to say, look, let’s be really good to our customers. Let’s show them the popular option. Let’s show them the non-popular option, and let’s help them make that decision better, and we think we can add value along the way. And then it kind of took off from there. So we’ve had a hundred percent growth every year since 2019. And our team, yeah, our team keeps growing. So it’s, it’s great. We’re, we’re really excited to, to be here. And I mean, we still feel like we’re ground floor. We still feel like there’s a lot of opportunity that we haven’t captured. And we’re not, I won’t sit here and say, we are the best at selling cloud. It’s something we know and we’re, we’re doing more of. But there’s still, every day there’s a new tool that comes out or a new acquisition you have to pay attention to. And that’s what I think we’re gonna get into. But that’s some of the challenge with it.

Josh Lupresto (07:31):
Yeah, so true. So true. The pace right now is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. And I, you know, I try to, I try to understand, geez, did I just not pay attention to it as much? And, and I think, no, I mean, it’s been, it’s been our job as technical folks to pay attention to it, the rate of change. And I have a, I have a opinion that maybe it’s the money that flowed into Silicon Valley over the last five to 10 years, a zillion products were made. And now those that are, whether they’re good or they’re bad, all these different things are sprawled into the customer’s environments. And now we have to deal with those, we have to deal with the innovations. And it’s just been, it’s been fascinating and fun to kind of see all those changes. For sure.

Aaron Bock (08:11):
Yeah. And, and you’re right, I think it, there’s not one single place where like, I think the cloud came from. It makes sense in theory. There are times where it doesn’t, but you know, you had all these startups, you had all these people like popping up in the two thousands with websites and they needed to put, you know, their websites somewhere. So they were, were hosting ’em in, what was it? Cloud then? It just wasn’t the hyperscalers we know today. Right.

Josh Lupresto (08:38):
So was your, if we flash back, I, I wanna do a little bit of a a story of where you started with cloud to where we’re at now, and we’ll get into the weeds on a, on a recent deal. But early on in cloud, when you were doing kind of the IT auditing, were, were you understanding cloud then? Was it all prem then, you know, really, where was your first forer into cloud or Azure, any of those things?

Aaron Bock (09:00):
Yeah, so I mean, we were aware of cloud before Opkalla. I mean, it was, we were kind of selling against it or you know, a couple of us were selling to basically help transition people. But I think where we, it’s a tough question because every single customer’s on a different journey. So like, I’ll give you an example. We have some customers that are traditional manufacturers here in North Carolina. They don’t want anything to do with the cloud still today. But when you start getting into that and you say, you know, what are you using for your crm? Oh, Salesforce, okay, what are you using for your payroll? Oh, you know, Paylocity or something like that. You start going through that and you, they, they just listed 10 SAS apps and you’re like, by the way, do you know that those are kind of cloud? Do you know that?

Aaron Bock (09:49):
And they’re like, well, no, not really, but they are. And so I think like as, as we continue to see that, we started to learn more and more about the cloud and then on outside of, of what we do with Telarus, we are a Microsoft CSP in house. And so we, we have the modern work licenses, which are, you know, the popular E one, E three, E five licensing that everyone kind of knows the, you know, a one if you’re an academic and non-profit. And so along the way we were getting cloud certifications as well to learn these things, try to get the PhD in Microsoft licensing as everyone says. And you know, each, each opportunity that we’ve worked, every, every job we had before, it was learning more about, well, what can you do in the cloud? Start with the why, why do people go to the cloud?

Aaron Bock (10:40):
What’s a really good use case? And if you can start to understand that and then what, what’s not a fit, you just kind of start to understand, okay, you know, this is never gonna be a fit for so and so, or this will be a really good fit for so and so, let’s go down that path with them. And I think it’s just each opportunity is wildly different with cloud, which is unique because in some of the other technology areas, you know, I hate to say this, but a phone is a phone with some features. It’s not drastically different from the use case. And so you talk about the cloud, you’re dealing with custom apps, you’re dealing with custom, you know, integrations, you’re dealing with all kinds of things that come into play that make it a little bit more unique to that customer.

Josh Lupresto (11:23):
Fair point. Let’s, let’s dive in then. Let’s say first deal, first cloud deal, right? What, what did that look like? Did it, did it look like a cloud deal right away? Was it what you were told that the problems were, you know, were they actually what they were said? You know, break that down for me.

Aaron Bock (11:40):
So I’ll give you two, I’ll give you the first one we won, and then the first one where we realized why cloud’s hard to sell.

Josh Lupresto (11:46):
Ooo. All right.

Aaron Bock (11:47):
First one that we won, the CFO and the CIO basically came together and said, we need to go to the cloud and we’re gonna go to the cloud by, I think the time was like 2021 or 2022, we need to be in the cloud. And that means we want to be in Azure. Like they knew they wanted to be an Azure. They had already talked to their Microsoft rep and, and they had done all these things. They had buy-in from the top. They knew exactly why. They knew exactly what they didn’t want to have to hire people. They wanted to get rid of their data center and turn it into more office space, pre covid. I haven’t checked in to see if they actually did that now, but they had all these reasons why going to the cloud, even if it’s more expensive, potentially was a good fit for them.

Aaron Bock (12:34):
They were gonna hire people in other states. They were bought into the cloud. They were willing to sign into long term commitments with like instances at the time. And so they were a really good fit and they knew they wanted to go to the cloud, and you don’t get those a lot. So that was kind of an easy layup, like, let’s just help you get there. Let’s do, do you need certain things managed? Do you need, you know, what resources do you need? What resources do you not need? And, and break it down. That was the first one we won. The first one we lost was a, it was a, it came from like a manager, director level in a larger organization saying, you know, I wanna start looking at people to help me get to the cloud. And, and that’s where like, now I cringe when I hear that because there’s so many things you need to qualify before you have that conversation.

Aaron Bock (13:26):
Really. Mm-hmm. , is your CIO on board with this? Is your CTO on board with this? Is your CEO and CFO on board with this? Are your customers on board with this? Have you? Cause if not, like, it’s great to, to help and show, but it can honestly be like more paralysis and you could probably add less value depending on, you know, who’s in the room. And so it was a, it was like a 1200 or 1300 person company that did different types of distribution, like alternative distribution like land C et cetera, international shipping, things like that. And they were like, yeah, let’s just maybe go to the cloud. They weren’t sure if it was public, they weren’t sure if it was private. They didn’t have any idea which cloud. They didn’t really know why and they didn’t have any buy-in. So we did like, I think 10 meetings and basically got no closer to helping them understand it. Because every time we’d turn around they would say, well, that’s cool, but we have this, and oh, this is this team. And so we lost the opportunity, but I don’t really even think it was an opportunity to start because they just hadn’t defined what that cloud journey was gonna look like.

Josh Lupresto (14:42):
Fair. so, so pro tips kind of, you know, my, one of my next questions was gonna be, what are some of the challenges you face? But let’s, let’s pick on that a little bit. I think think it’s important to help dissect it, because I think we found that too, especially as you move from SMB to mid-market and enterprise. It’s not just my one person, to your point, it’s seed level, it’s procurement, it’s technical, it’s business. What what are the pro tips that you would say? Is it, is it get alignment early or how, how do you recommend getting that alignment early? Do we just have to be more aggressive and push the agenda and say, get a yes, get a no fast?

Aaron Bock (15:19):
I, I think getting alignment and getting by in early is definitely helpful. I mean, that’s like the classic, you know, if you read any sales book about like getting, finding a qualified buyer, I don’t wanna say you, you need to just go qualify people because that’s, that’s not what we believe in. But you need to know if the per, if the company you’re talking to has a, has a reason to do this or do they understand the reasons to do it. So for example, I, I mentioned fine use cases early on when you look at the hyperscalers and if, for those that don’t know what the hyperscalers, that’s gcp, that’s Azure, that’s aws, that’s typically the three you here, there’s Oracle, there’s Alibaba, there’s a couple others early on, A really good use case for that was scalability and flexibility of compute. So take a co a customer who had a really, really, really busy peak season.

Aaron Bock (16:15):
So like we’re in the holiday season, a lot of people are shopping for the holidays. That creates a peak for a lot of retailers who needed to scale up on website compute and storage and things like that. That was a great use case for the cloud early on. So you said, well what do you do if you have a retail customer who is struggling with capacity of compute around the holidays and there’s CFOs complaining about the cost, it is to procure all this hardware that we don’t use most of the year. And the IT departments dealing with outages left and right over the holidays, they should be looking at cloud. And that’s a pretty, like, that’s a strong mission for you to say like, have you considered moving some of these applications into the hyperscalers so that you can scale up and scale down? Or now you could do that with private cloud, you could do it with private cloud, then have you considered going to private cloud so you don’t have to procure.

Aaron Bock (17:09):
And if you can get multiple people in the organization to see that value, then that that’s what buy-in is. It’s seeing the value of what you’re going to do, but it’s not, you know, hey, I just wanna look at this to look, you need to have a reason to look at it. You need to have a story and a compelling event to say, yes, we’re gonna go there. So like compelling events might be like a really big hardware refresh. That was kind of the first one. Yeah, we’ve got this big storage array that we’re paying, we paid 5 million for or 10 million for, and now we’re paying a million dollars a year in support. Would it be less to go to an OPEX model and not have the maintenance and not have the, the data center? That was kind of the early compelling event or reason to look at the cloud.

Aaron Bock (17:54):
And then there was the flexibility and the scalability. Now you have native, you know, cloud apps and you have the, the lo the geolocations of the cloud and where your workers are. So there’s a lot more compelling events now than there were. But I think understanding the reason for people to make that shift and consider it initially is, is a really good reason. Sorry, I keep saying, I see, I keep talking. But another thing in 2022, for example, we just got done, we’re almost done with 20 20 22, which is crazy this year. A big topic for CEOs everywhere has been the great resignation. Yes, you had, you had covid, you have all these people who are unhappy with employers, so people are resigning left and right. There’s more jobs open in it than ever. Well what does that cause that causes people to need support because those jobs are turning over fast. So now you’ve got, well, why don’t we look at a managed cloud offering? We never did that before, but I’m gonna look at it because the people that I do have, I want them to work on things for the business, not for running a server like I used to.

Josh Lupresto (19:01):
Yeah, I, you know, you bring up a really good point. We could, we could talk about that one for a while because that’s a hot topic. It seems like if you look at trying to sell this itto IT outsourcing person skill set, whatever as a service, either scope of work based or ongoing, continually opex selling this five, 10 years ago, people would think you’re crazy cuz they could just do it all in house. And why would they ever need an outsource now that that trend just seems to continue to go up and to the right. Whether it be I lost my Fortinet person, I lost my VMware person, I lost whatever. So I, you know, part of that I think to your point is we just have to ask that this is a new part of our discovery process of with what’s cooked in the last 12, 24 months. Have you lost great people have your abilities to do some of these projects, initiatives, application deployments, has it gone down? Can you hit those timeframes? And those are weird new questions I think to ask. You bring up a great point there.

Aaron Bock (20:00):
The o the other interesting thing and the other, you know, if you think about what’s happened, we are, we used to have exchange, which is your mail hosted on prem and Microsoft who’s driving, I think a lot of the cloud push is basically making people go to cloud licensing. So pretty much everyone is either in workspace with a, with Google or they’re in the Microsoft suite of, of licensing with office. So when you think about that at the basic, like just take like a one person business or a two person business, how do they communicate? It’s via email. That’s, that’s still a very popular medium. Where are you emailing? You’re emailing in the cloud. So that’s just a basic concept. Well now let’s start to build on this. So like, I think the struggle is, well how do I sell the cloud? I need to sell this like concept.

Aaron Bock (20:54):
No, start there. You got email in the cloud. What happens if you have an employee who’s off at you, who deletes all their emails the day they leave and you, and then walk away and you need ’em cuz you have to go into to some lawsuit with an employee because of employee law or something happens and you don’t have any of that data. What’s in the cloud? It’s safe. Well, no, it’s, it’s, it’s not being backed up there. It’s the’s things in the cloud that people don’t understand. And so when we talk cloud, I think everyone just thinks Amazon, Azure, gcp, there’s what do you back up in the cloud? How do you back up in the cloud? How should you use the cloud? Oh, you don’t sit, you don’t want to use the cloud, but you’re already using it. And so it’s just like, it kind of builds on it on on themselves.

Aaron Bock (21:46):
So, so like my point is, is that I think cloud is this like, Hey, I’m gonna sell cloud, but you can sell backup for the cloud. You can sell voice in the cloud, you can sell all these things. A funny story is we had a customer, and I’m not knocking them, I think it’s just baby basic naivety. They said to me in the opening, they said, we can’t use the cloud, we contract with the government. I said, okay, you know, it makes sense. I’ve heard of this, you know, there’s definitely things you, you probably don’t know high gcc and we don’t need to go in all those. But so we started going through, I said, you know, tell me like what do you use for email? Oh, we use Microsoft. Okay, do you, you host your on, on OnPrem? No, no, no, no, we have the Microsoft 365.

Aaron Bock (22:31):
I said, oh, okay, you’re, you’re using cloud. And they said, well no, that’s not really cloud, you know, it’s just the . I’m like, well, not on Tuesdays. No, it’s, it’s Azure. I mean it’s sitting in Azure. And so I said, okay, that makes sense. I understand it. Tell me like, where’s like your critical application hosted? Oh yeah, we have it in our data center. I said, how do you back it up? That would be a really good use case for the cloud. Put it in cloud archive, never touch it. Make sure it’s locked away. They said, no, we would, we would never do that. We we take a tape and we put it in a system under the CEO’s bed. And I was like, oh wow, that’s so much more secure than, and, and so like you have these con you have these conversations and you hear of them and people kind of think, well no, no one’s thinks that in 2022, this happened earlier this year. So people just don’t understand it because we’ve taken basically, what was it where there was, you know, your compute, your storage, your backups, your dr your your voice, your productivity. And we just combined it all into cloud and we just made all these, all these different sections of it and we call it cloud. It’s, it’s still, you have to break up what the cloud is. Yeah, yeah. You know, you bring up

Josh Lupresto (23:44):
A great, great point. I think that’s what gets me excited to wake up and do this every day because there’s moments where you think the world is modernized. IT infrastructure is at the next gen, it’s where it needs to be. And then you have these conversations about, no I don’t have any endpoint security. We’re not a target. I don’t, I don’t have anything on my endpoint. I don’t have anything that protects me and my intellectual property from walking out the door, to your point when a disgruntled employee does. And so I think there’s just, there’s so much value for us to add to help people. And I, I think we take it for granted sometimes, but what, what we have to help people understand is that we get to see so many situations and so many customer environments that bringing to bear and saying, here’s what most other people are struggling with, here’s what most other people are doing. It helps the customers wanna move in that direction. And, and I think they, they don’t wanna be the first to do anything. So the more we can encourage them and get them to see this is what others are doing and, and here’s how you can do it. Here’s how you can do it unsuccessfully, but here’s how we can help you do it successfully. Brings up a great point.

Aaron Bock (24:49):
Yeah. And, and I think like fundamentally the cloud, if you think about what it is, it’s a server that someone else is hosting or it’s compute, storage, et cetera, that someone else is hosting you, you’re not, you, you’re not. So, yes, you know, you start to get deep into AWS and some of these, you know, capabilities they have or they’re laying, layering in services. There are other things now. But at the basic level, you used to buy a server, you could go physically put a, a drive in it. You could, you could go, you know, upgrade it, you could touch it, you could feel it, it’s in a rack and you know, the, the really cold data center behind you that’s loudest can be, that’s what it was, right? If you wanted to add security to it, you would add something like an agent on the server to make it more secure.

Aaron Bock (25:38):
If you want to add, you know, backup or you wanna add storage, you’d connect it you know, to a storage array, you would do all that right back there. The difference is it’s being done by someone else now. It’s in a much bigger data center. It’s much more scaled and you just, you don’t touch it. You’re still consuming the same services. It’s just a different, it’s just a little bit of a mindset shift to say, I’m gonna opex, like I’m gonna like pay for it monthly instead of just it being back there and have to deal with it there.

Josh Lupresto (26:09):
Yeah, great point. We get to make it somebody else’s problem, right? People look at that as a benefit and not a, I want you to, I want you to make more money, be a better manager, be a better director, be a better cio, and actually get some sleep and be able to enjoy life and go through it and have things not go down and break. That’s my goal for you. Yeah,

Aaron Bock (26:28):

Josh Lupresto (26:29):
You still have it still vm still got an IP address, all that good stuff. Alright, let’s go as we wrap this up, final couple thoughts here. I wanna walk through an example. So we talked about early on your exposure to cloud and infrastructure, but walk us through an example maybe that you walked in where you really helped somebody modernize and move that needle a little bit. What did you walk into? What did the environment look like? What my favorite part is sometimes these things just don’t look like what the people are saying. I I need this thing and reality. They need something completely different. But I’m, I’m curious from your perspective, what’s a good example that you’ve seen? Just how you’ve helped somebody transform and maybe get into the weeds and what’s the tech that they had and, and you know, how did it end up?

Aaron Bock (27:13):
Yeah, I I I’ll give two. I I like to give two examples cuz these are just so broad. We’re working on one right now. It’s a, it’s a manufacturing very traditional manufacturer. If you haven’t caught it from this episode, we have a lot of manufacturing, North Carolina. So manufacturer, really not on the cloud journey, but about two years ago, I, I really, you know, I knew the, the CIO and the, the director of IT and you know, I mentioned to them, I said, you know, acas, were, were young, we do a lot with the cloud. You know, we’re not your traditional VAR that you’ve worked with in the past. Give us a shot, let us come in, let’s talk about some things. And so we kind of sat down with them and we said, you know, what do you, what is gonna happen as over the next five years?

Aaron Bock (27:57):
And we kind of went from there, this was two years ago and we asked them, you know, SAP’s their core application, what’s gonna happen with sap? Are they, are they talking to you about like going to the cloud cuz they’re gonna start making people do it. Well not yet, but by 20 at the time it was like 20 23, 20 24, they’re gonna potentially want us to go to the cloud. Okay, great. How are you prepared to do that? So like, just that question was like, well I don’t, we’re not really prepared. Like we haven’t really thought of that. So over the last year, two, two years we’ve had, you know, different folks come in and talk to them about like the way they do cloud, right? Someone who’s uber focused on aws, someone who’s more of a hybrid provider, some other tools that are focused on cloud connectivity.

Aaron Bock (28:44):
We’ve just been bringing in different folks to kind of talk about the way they do it. Where I think they’re gonna end up is, I think they’re gonna end up with remaining on prem for the next probably cycle, which is two to three years, but getting closer cuz they’re starting to consume some of those cloud resources, shifting their mindset around like, we need to start moving to the cloud. And so like putting their, their production data center in a colo at the base of a, of a hyperscaler like that concept, I know it might be really technical for some, but it’s basically moving your data center to where an AWS or Azure or GCP data center is and connecting them so there’s lower latency. So I think they’re gonna do that and, and then keep dr. Their, their disaster recovery or, or their backup OnPrem because they still have a data center.

Aaron Bock (29:35):
I think they’re gonna do that initially. And so like while that doesn’t, you said it might not look like cloud, that sure surely doesn’t really sound like cloud. It’s the first step in the cloud journey because they know that at some point they need to be prepared to go to the cloud. So that’s an example where that’s sort of your traditional colo, that’s network and connectivity. And that’s maybe a little bit of like hybrid, like, you know, maybe managed AWS or Azure depending on where your customer sits. Yeah, that’s one. Another, I would say another example and, and I’m just gonna speak generally cause I’ve seen this multiple times. I think another success is when you have people in, we see a lot of Microsoft being a csp. So what a lot of people don’t realize is all of the funding you can get from different cloud providers who know these clouds really well.

Aaron Bock (30:28):
And so understanding like, well if I do this with like Microsoft has Power bi, which is great for data analytics, can I get funding to do things in Power BI that I want to do? Oh wait, I could get $50,000 paid for from Microsoft to do this. How do I do that? Well, you just need a partner that knows that cloud, they need to know what you’re trying to do. So I’ve seen a lot of people kind of like have an Azure skew or kind of start to play around with aws and when they really kind of take it into the next gear with their cloud journey is when they engage someone that’s an expert in that cloud. And, and that doesn’t have to be a public hyperscaler by the way, but there are really good providers that know, like AWS all in Azure, but it could also be like a hybrid cloud.

Aaron Bock (31:22):
Like, hey, let’s take some of this stuff and let’s, let’s, let’s use our resources. We’ve got beefier resources than you will pay for and then we can do this, we can put this in archive and it helps them see like, we don’t need all this equipment that we used to buy that could also be a cloud journey. And so like those two examples are not traditional, like, hey, we just moved everything and lifted and shifted like Capital One said like 10 years ago to the cloud. Those are more like, hey, we, we kind of have other other needs, let’s do it. You know, the the the most classic example is, you know, CFO or CEO comes back from a conference and says, all right, that’s it. We’re going cloud, let’s lift and shift and let’s do it and you gotta be done by the end of next year.

Aaron Bock (32:07):
Go. I mean, we do see that. I see a lot of failures with that because it’s just too forced. But you know, those are all ways people will go to the cloud. And then to me the, like the, the most common use case we’re seeing now for cloud is I don’t have enough resources or I can’t retain resources or the resources are too expensive. Like why, why host something that I could easily give to someone else or put somewhere else where like it’s one less thing that I don’t have to worry about. Yeah, great point.

Josh Lupresto (32:38):
I, and it goes back to our point. I don’t have the people to manage it. Do you want to CapEx this gear and rock it there and hire somebody that is hard to find or is gonna bounce, you know, I mean, or or you’re gonna have to lay off or who knows what the scenario’s gonna be or do you want your business to maintain no matter what. Yeah, great point. Great point. Yeah. alright, let’s, let’s let’s go crystal ball here as we wrap this up and, and kind of look to the future, right? We’re, we’re talking about, you know, 15 20% of the world is modernized into some sort of, of cloud infrastructure at this point, maybe a little more. And, and so, you know, looking at what comes next if we turn up the super nerd knob I’m, I’m reading some of the articles that are coming out of the, you know, the big AWS reinvent conference that’s happening this week.

Josh Lupresto (33:25):
There’s some predictions. There was a, a really good art article that I read out of I wanna say it was Silicon Angle, which is kind of a prediction of what you know now that, that that chassis is as CEO Linsky is, is running aws. They have some different initiatives and I think we have to look at that. I know we’re talking Azure, but we have to look at what people like this set the pace on what’s next. And so there, there seems to be a big push going forward on infrastructure as code, which is gonna change the DevOps and infrastructure management knowledge set to dev and programming and, you know, infrastructure is now JSON code, but I’m, I’m, you know, I’m curious, you know, and Azure has functions and all of these things and serverless, everybody, you know, in containers. But what’s, what’s Aaron’s prediction? What if we look out, let’s call it 12, we look out maybe 24 months. Are we continuing to help modernize because of lack of resources? Are we doing the same things because there’s so much ground left to cover anywhere you wanna take it? What’s what’s your perspective on this to the future as we wrap this?

Aaron Bock (34:29):
Yeah, I guess I’d put a disclaimer that this is just some thoughts in my opinions. This may may have no bearing on what actually happens. Couple things I would say near term are, you know, I think we hear about the cloud and you know, when you’re walking through the airport there, there’s great advertisements that makes it feel like the whole world is on a cloud and, and we’re just being left behind. The reality is what you said, 15% of people are, of companies are, are really truly using the cloud. If that, I don’t even know if that’s the, the true number that actually kind of feels high to me, but I would say from a Microsoft, let’s start from Microsoft. I think from a Microsoft perspective, they have done, whether we like it or not, an amazing job bundling packages for people to purchase.

Josh Lupresto (35:16):
Yeah, what

Aaron Bock (35:16):
Was just email, but they’ve added in security tools, phone data and analytics, governance. They’ve added in all kinds of stuff that we get for free. My prediction would be you’re gonna continue to see people either commit to the Microsoft ecosystem long term and go the Microsoft route, or you’re gonna see people commit to using the least amount possible in Microsoft and, and kind of go the other route. I don’t think either one’s right or wrong. I just think you’re gonna see more people use it. So for example, I think a very common path is if if someone’s a hundred percent OnPrem, like meaning they’re still hosting exchange OnPrem, if they can even do that anymore, move their licensing, start using cloud email, then they start using like SharePoint in one drive, which is in Azure, then they start using Azure for a little bit of storage and blob for some of the archiving.

Aaron Bock (36:16):
And then they use teams and now they’re using teams for collaboration and then they add on Power bi and then they add on Intune for management. And you just see that they start layering in the Microsoft ecosystem near term. You’re gonna see a lot more companies do that because it’s easy, it’s a single, it’s not a single skill set, but it is a Microsoft skill set. So you can hire Microsoft focused engineers, you can hire Microsoft focused people, you can engage service providers who are Microsoft focused. Consolidating into an ecosystem like that does have a lot of benefits. The con is that Microsoft, this past year raised prices hugely like 10, 15% in some cases, 26% on some mm-hmm . So you risk putting too many eggs in one basket. So I think near term you’re gonna see a lot of people commit to that ecosystem or you know, maybe the work Google workspace ecosystem.

Aaron Bock (37:12):
And Google’s come a long way. That’s one prediction. The second prediction I think you’re gonna see is for the folks that have gone cloud and have really heavily invested, you’re gonna see a focus on security again. So security was really a big focus for like, how do I secure work from home? How do I secure this? A lot of the, you know, the breaches, they’re, they’re targeting back to the clouds. So how do I, how do I secure the cloud? That’s been happening. But what I think you’re gonna see is more investment, more investment from the hyperscalers, aws, Azure, Google. They’re gonna be spending more time and money either building or acquiring security companies for the cloud. And you’re gonna be selling add-ons in those to secure cloud environments. I think you’re gonna see more of that. On the same token, I also think you’re gonna see in the next five years a a point of like a tipping point where the whole like, I need to be a hundred percent cloud conversation starts to go away and everyone’s totally comfortable with a hybrid model and not necessarily hybrid.

Aaron Bock (38:20):
Like, I have a data center and I have public cloud. It’s, I have SaaS, I have PaaS, platform as a service, I have like certain services as a service and I have like cloud infrastructure as a service. I think you’ll see a hybrid of those and then, you know, potentially still coming back on prem for some. I just think we’re, it’s too much of a pendulum for it not to come back a little bit. And then I also think there, this is super like a political thing kind of, but like there’s, there’s some element of a monopoly when you look at these clouds Yeah, that like people we really haven’t talked about. But like if you put your entire company in Microsoft and the only way to continue adding is adding through Microsoft with no competition, I don’t know. At some point maybe there’s some type of like concern around like, I have way too much stuff with one company and if they start doing poorly in one service, like I need to pull out. I think something like that could cause a pullback from like a Microsoft or an AWS and create new competition and new like waves of like, no, I don’t wanna be big cloud. Like yeah, cloud’s the rave now, but big cloud one day might be like the, the enemy. So

Aaron Bock (39:39):
I don’t know, those are just some thoughts like long term that could happen.

Josh Lupresto (39:43):
I love it. I love getting in your brain. Good stuff. All right, man. That wraps us up. Aaron. I appreciate you coming on. Thanks for doing this buddy.

Aaron Bock (39:51):
Yeah, thanks for having me. And for those who had to listen to me for this full time,

Josh Lupresto (39:56):
get the pleasure of listening to you. And by the way if you’re watching this on YouTube, you see the logo in the background, but remind everybody for your podcast, it matters. Where can we find it?

Aaron Bock (40:06):
Yeah, check out the It Matters podcast hosted by Opkalla. It’s on all your favorite podcast stations, Stitcher apple, Spotify, you name it, it’s up there. We, we typically interview, you know, anyone from a CIO or to a cfo to someone focused. We actually have someone an episode coming up on cloud finops management. So check it out. I think you guys will like it.

Josh Lupresto (40:31):
Sweet. Okay, that wraps us up, my friend. Appreciate you coming on. Thanks so much. Aaron Bock of Opkalla. I’m your host, Josh Lupresto, SVP of Sales Engineering at Telarus. And this is Next Level BizTech.