My Cloudy Journey with Cloudreach
Every journey has to start somewhere and for me that somewhere was at a Citrix event in Scotland. Ian Pratt was speaking about the Xen project and mentioned Amazon Web Services. What struck me was his impassioned response, "you must sign up for this when you get back, it’s the future". Well if Mr Pratt says so, I’ll roll with it. Little did I know that this chance meeting would have such a big impact on my life and career.
At that time, I was working for Melrose Resources (FTSE 250 Oil & Gas, now PetroCeltic) based in Edinburgh. With Ian’s words in my head, I went back to the office and asked one of my colleagues Ben Abrahams to take a look at the platform and see what we could potentially use it for.
Back then, EC2 Classic had only just launched (I wonder how many people are still using it!?), indeed the feature list was much much smaller than it is today but we could see the potential. The ability to consume on demand storage (S3) and compute was very attractive. To put it in context, Melrose Resources were regularly buying, acquiring and generating vast quantities of data from their Oil and Gas assets. The planning period for this arriving was always short and although my EMC account manager was a happy chap, the cost, complexity and time to deploy new capacity was a real challenge. We simply could not keep up.
As the team started to deploy more, we started to look for an AWS Partner to help support us with professional and managed services. In April 2009, Pontus and James set up a stand at the inaugural AWS London Summit to sell their services as a new ‘cloud-native’ integrator called Cloudreach. I vividly remember meeting these two passionate, smart guys and thinking we shared a similar vision of where the cloud could take us. (p.s. I also saw an excellent presentation that day from Bob Harris, then CTO at Channel 4, who would go on to become one of our early customers).
And so began my connection with Cloudreach. We worked together on a number of successful engagements including a stage appearance (the deck looks v old school now!) at the AWS London Summit 2010. I joined Cloudreach in November 2010 after some gentle arm twisting from Pontus and James, thank you gents!
My first role was to build out our managed services business. So with a clean slate, we set about selecting a location (eventually Edinburgh), finding our first batch of cloudy talent and designing our management platform. Those were exciting times. We moved offices on several occasions, refined our pitch, built out our technology platform and created relationships with AWS, Google and Microsoft.
With success came more demand for our services from larger Enterprises. They needed to see more depth to Cloudreach in terms of coverage (genuine 24/7) and governance. As such we took the decision to invest and open a second operations center in Vancouver and complete our ISO 27001 certification. Both big steps for an organization of around 100 people at the time, but fundamental building blocks to our success.
In 2014, the business was ready to spread its wings and look east across the Atlantic at New York City. We were working already with Time Inc in the UK, and that work spilled over to the USA. It was time to depart on a new adventure. I packed my bags later that year to join a couple of my UK colleagues and kick off building our new North American business.
On the back of success at Time Inc, we followed up with a series of projects including one with Delaware North who spoke with us at re:Invent 2015. We came a long way in a very short period of time, leaning on our experiences from the UK and finding new American talent to come and join us. The team grew rapidly, expanding from NYC to Chicago and Atlanta.
At the end of 2016, Cloudreach was the only cloud-native Integrator to gain Premier Partner status with AWS across two regions, EU and USA. It’s a remarkable achievement to get to that scale in 2 years from a standing start.
I’m very excited about today’s announcement regarding the investment partnership with Blackstone, as it will open a new chapter in our cloudy history. With their backing, we’ll supercharge the business with an increased number of offices, further development of software (both commercial and open source) and various other initiatives to solidify ourselves as the number one global cloud-native integrator. It’s going to be one hell of an interesting journey!
Not if. When