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IT Briefcase Exclusive Interview: Cloud Migrations, Security, and AWS – Analyzing the Landscape Right Now

June 14, 2020 No Comments


In this interview, we tackle several current cloud topics with Jonathan LaCour, the new CTO at Reliam (a consulting and managed services provider for public cloud platforms including AWS). LaCour discusses cloud strategy from a few angles, including how AWS continues to grow support for its partners and why that matters for enterprises.

1. Starting broadly, what do you see as the biggest roadblocks to digital transformation right now? Resistance to change, a lingering lack of urgency, not really understanding where to begin, something else?

As the adoption of cloud continues to accelerate, organizations are generally not asking “if” they begin moving workloads to public cloud, but “when” and “how.” Increasingly, roadblocks for cloud adoption fall into those two key categories:


… does my organization select the right public cloud provider or providers?

… do I ensure that my workloads are highly available and reliable?

… do I know which services to take advantage of?

… do I re-architect my workloads to become cloud native?

… do I keep control of spend?

… do I leverage public cloud services to drive innovation?

… do I ensure compliance in the public cloud?


… do I need to wait for my applications to be cloud native before moving them to public cloud?

… how quickly should I move?

Cloud service providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS) are innovating so quickly, and becoming so complex, that these “how” and “when” questions can paralyze businesses.

2. Do you find there are misconceptions about the complexity/methodology/etc of cloud migrations?

Due to the increasing complexity of public cloud services – both from a technology perspective and a financial perspective – organizations can often underestimate the complexity of cloud migration. In our extensive experience with accelerating and managing cloud migrations on behalf of customers, we’ve learned that cloud migrations are as much about preparation as they are about execution. While public clouds now offer incredible flexibility to enable migrating any workload, planning a large-scale migration requires strong methodology, project and process management, and execution.

3. What are the benefits and risks (or challenges) – as you see them – of a multi-cloud strategy?

A multi-cloud strategy requires a lowest-common-denominator approach, where only services that are available in multiple providers are used. In addition, abstractions must be built to map between services where differences exist. While there are frameworks and platforms available to simplify some of these concerns, it is fair to say that there is no industry standard set of tools and best practices for multi-cloud.

The rise of containerization and gaining traction of Kubernetes represents an opportunity to enable multi-cloud for some types of applications, but Kubernetes is by no means a silver bullet solution. Applications that want to take advantage of the increasing number of specialized services for AI/ML, media streaming, mobile, and IoT will have a difficult time abstracting their workloads to be truly multi-cloud.

A multi-cloud strategy that focuses on the public cloud primitives of network, compute, and storage is most likely to succeed. While some parts of a workload may be tied to a specific public cloud provider due to specific features or constraints, the core systems built with cloud primitives can be more easily deployed across providers.

4. Cloud security had a relatively rough 2017. At the end of this year, do you think we’ll have seen more or fewer headlines on security breaches?

More, and I expect that trend to continue for a decade or more.

While the notion that public cloud is inherently more insecure is a myth, it is important to understand the root cause of most breaches: execution failures. Public cloud service providers have designed incredibly flexible, granular, and sophisticated security controls for all of their services, but it is incumbent upon the consumers of those services to properly design and operate their workloads and to implement policies and procedures that ensure their security.

Following best practices and creating a culture that values security were challenges before the cloud, and they’ll continue to be a challenge for the foreseeable future. That’s because culture and people are difficult to wrangle.

5. What types of organizations is Reliam seeing the most traction from? Who stands to benefit the most from turning to a provider of AWS managed services versus handling in-house?

In our 17+ years of existence, Reliam has helped hundreds of businesses through a variety of technological shifts. The past five years have focused on accelerating cloud transformation, enabling our customers to focus on revenue generation and innovation, rather than on infrastructure. Reliam has seen especially strong traction with companies in the Digital Marketing, Media & Entertainment, Technology, Consumer Product, Mobile, and Retail verticals, particularly for web, enterprise/business, content, and e-commerce workloads.

Organizations of all shapes and sizes can benefit from cloud managed services, but in our experience, customers that embrace managed services – and then re-deploy resources to focus on innovation – stand to benefit the most. With the ability to do rapid experimentation and innovate on top of public cloud, and a trusted partner to help guide the way and manage their workloads, customers who fit this profile have seen their revenue grow.

6. How have AWS’ partner programs for managed service providers evolved over the past couple years or so?

AWS’ MSP program provides a vetted selection of top-tier MSPs who are rigorously audited on an annual basis. As of today, there are less than 100 AWS MSP Partners globally, including Reliam. As AWS continues to innovate and evolve, the MSP program will continue to raise the bar for partners. Reliam welcomes the continued evolution, as it enables us to grow our capabilities in lock-step with AWS, so that we can deliver to our customers with confidence.

Jonathan LaCour Headshot

Jonathan LaCour is the Chief Technology Officer at Reliam, a managed services provider for public cloud platforms including AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. LaCour joined Reliam in 2018 from DreamHost, where he served in technical leadership roles (most recently as Senior VP of Product and Technology). LaCour is based in Los Angeles, where Reliam is headquartered.



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