Tidal CEO, David Colebatch, had the privilege of sitting with Marcus Pozzan, Senior Partner Account Manager for ISVs at AWS Canada for the Canadian Pension Investment Funds Executive Briefing Day on April 18, 2023.
Highlights from the Event
David Colebatch’s Experience with Cloud as a Place to Create New Capabilities
David Colebatch: My background was in data center automation, and software engineering where I used to write code to help people build out data centers very quickly. As people started to virtualize, automate the virtualization process, and consolidate their data centers, customers started asking me if they should consider using the cloud as a landing zone for their VMs.
Even back in 2010, I knew the value of cloud was the Managed Services, the 216 services, that we had at AWS. It triggered me to realize that customers were thinking about cloud as merely a place to park VMs and not a place to create new capabilities.
That planted the seed and Tidal was formed in 2016 and we launched our first product at re:Invent on AWS Marketplace in 2017.
Being an AWS Partner and Member of the AWS Community Builder Program
Marcus Pozzan: What does it mean to you to be an AWS partner?
David Colebatch: It means a lot to me. The big thing for me partnering with AWS and also being a member of the AWS Community Builder Program is, to collaborate with Amazonians working with their product teams and practice areas.
We just did a roadshow in the US in five major cities where I got to sit down with the product teams around migrations about assessment and migration execution, and work on really gnarly customer problems and find innovative ways to sort of support and accelerate their journeys.
It’s not easy to become an AWS partner especially when you’re trying to go for competencies and more advanced tiers, but the benefit to customers is that when you work with AWS partners you know that they have gone through a bar raising process and they have a lot of expertise that they can bring to the table.
Tidal: A Partner Specialized in Migration and Modernization
Marcus Pozzan: Can you talk a little bit about what you do as a partner to help customers accelerate their cloud migration journeys?
David Colebatch: Tidal is an AWS Qualified Software and Migration and Modernization Software Competency partner that specializes in migration and modernization. We go very deep with customers on how to accelerate their cloud migration and adoption of AWS.
Tidal’s Cloud Migration Methodologies
Marcus Pozzan: Can you tell me how Tidal can help customers with that optimization exercise?
David Colebatch: Working backwards from the outcomes that customer is trying to achieve is probably a great place to start. Optimizing before migrating is surprisingly one of the low hanging fruit that companies can start with.
We have customers who frequently engage us to do a portfolio assessment, analyzing their applications. When you do a 6R Analysis for apps on-premises, many of our enterprise customers have found that 60% of their infrastructure can simply be turned off and not migrated. It’s as easy as it sounds.
We also like to take a prescriptive data-driven approach to cloud assessments using our static source code analysis and database configuration analysis. This is where we can actually drive transformative migration through our recommendation engine.
This gets customers to move beyond a lift-and-shift migration, towards the full spectrum of migration methodologies, and choosing the right one that’s aligned to the business value for each application.
This allows customers to drive more consistent 6R Analyses across their portfolio, instead of relying on spreadsheets and their gut.
How does Tidal Support 6R Analysis?
Marcus Pozzan: Now that you mentioned spreadsheets. Is this just another spreadsheet exercise? How does Tidal support that type of 6R Analysis?
David Colebatch: We ingest as much data from customers as possible - sometimes they’re spreadsheets. From that, we identify technical blockers, like pieces of code that aren’t compatible with Lambda or database features that aren’t compatible with Postgres.
If we can identify that during the planning stage, we save ourselves a whole lot of headache in the execution phase, and we are able to budget more efficiently.
We also help with Day 2 operations. We have a service called Cloud Delivery Alignment Framework that builds on the AWS MRA process. This brings together all your different stakeholder groups in a room and you’re working backwards trying to understand what the intent of going to cloud is. We use that to capture our customer’s objectives, and their driving forces, like data center exits, hardware refresh, things like that.
But the business objectives are really key. And in the cloud delivery alignment framework, we come up with a capability map across those people, process, and technology pillars. These maps have been proven to improve the velocity of a migration.
And what we found with this service was that customers were more willing to embrace the culture of change and to embrace a new Day 2 operating model. They are willing to drive high velocity, high frequency organizations by trading long processes for more agile iterative practices.
The Importance of Creating a Business Case for Cloud Migration
Marcus Pozzan: Do you have any steps or recommendations for the customers we have in the room today?
David Colebatch: One of the most important steps for those wondering how to get to the cloud is creating a business case. To be able to sell your cloud migration journey upstairs and get the right support, align all your peers in stakeholder groups - nothing does that better than a good business case and, and shared goals.
Avoid Analysis Paralysis, Get to Value Quickly
Marcus Pozzan: What would you say are some of the fundamentals that customers need to have in place to ensure successful and smooth migration that’s also timely?
David Colebatch: I wouldn’t dwell too much on creating the perfect foundation before moving to the cloud. Instead, demonstrate value early to the business and build momentum because cloud migrations are as much, people change management and organizational change, as it is technology.
This avoids analysis paralysis setting in. Two or three years could easily fly by. I’ve seen customers with landing zones with all the bells and whistles but without any applications migrated. We want to avoid that as much as possible and do things iteratively.
How Do You Approach Customers Who Have Already Started a Migration?
Marcus Pozzan: Have you ever worked with customers who have had to redo a lot of things that they’ve done before?
David Colebatch: All the time.
We have a reputation of being migration-fixers. Tidal gets called in year four of a five year program. The customers have done all the stuff, they’ve hired 50 staff and built a big castle around it, but they’ve only managed to migrate a handful of apps out of their 500-app portfolio.
We like to come in a little earlier, but when this happens, we try to get a clear understanding of what their constraints are. There’s generally two types of constraints.
- The hard constraints like data center exits, and
- The soft constraints like internal policies, which are often the constraint that slows teams down the most.
Once we get a good understanding of those, we like to work backwards from the customer’s intent, break down some of those constraints and start improving velocity from there.
It’s always about empowering the customer to improve their velocity and making sure that they’re building new capabilities with AWS and understanding the value of continuous improvement and modernization.
They scale it up to full service where they want boots on the ground with them side desking. We want to make sure that customers are investing in the people that are gonna be there long term.
Too often we see a migration project come to an end. Sometimes it’s over budget. People don’t know what their Day 2 jobs are, and they’re out the door. And brain drain is a big issue.
How Tidal Avoids Bill Shock
Marcus Pozzan: Bill shock. Talk to me about what Tidal does to avoid that.
David Colebatch: If you take a modernize as you migrate approach and your aim is to optimize as you go. You’re not lifting-and-shifting VMs that you’re not using anymore. So there’s some obvious steps to reduce that bill shock, but the other one is aligning the value stream of your organization back to those that cloud spend.
Oftentimes customers on premises, have two different org structures, but sometimes IT is one central-organization with one cost bucket, and it’s not sent back to the business.
There’s no activity based charging model or anything like that.
Marcus Pozzan: It’s free. It’s free for the consumers.
David Colebatch: We actually launched a product called Tidal Saver an instant scheduler for non-production workloads. What that does is allow non-cloud mature organizations to stand up this portal and give their developers access to manage their up down schedules of non-production workloads.
That typically delivers about 70% right off the bat.
A Modernization Workflow
Marcus Pozzan: Why is your product on a subscription basis? Why do you have the customer continue to pay for this product?
David Colebatch: It’s an application portfolio database at the end of the day.
With Tidal, you’re not just managing one migration, you’re managing your app portfolio for the long term. As AWS continues to release new services, you want to adopt them, you want to transform that portfolio and the Tidal platform is an accelerant for that.
So it does the project management. It does the technology assessments doing source code analysis and so on, and that stuff is iterative. You’re gonna be doing that for years as you transform your business.
It’s a modernization workflow, you know, that builds on top of migration. It’s continuous optimization and we have that Saver capability in the software now to manage the up down schedule of non-prod. We also have an IP address management capability to give you that single pane of glass of your IP space on premises in the cloud.
On Tidal, how we get the business intent for each app is through an interview process. These interviews are snapshots every time you do them. So some customers in regulated industries will do an interview once per year. And they can see the history of when they’ve checked in with the business to make sure that they are still doing what they said they were doing.
We record those interviews live.
The reason we do that is oftentimes assessments are done fairly early on in the journey, and then you’re scaling up a migration team later.
You don’t want them to have to repeat that learning that’s already been done. So they come into the portal, watch the recording of the interview and hear from the application owner themselves what’s important to them.
Question from the Audience
Audience member: You talked about code analysis, configuration analysis. I’m assuming you have some kind of agent installed for VM analysis or how do you go about collecting data?
David Colebatch: We have a layered approach to discovery. We have agentless technology called Tidal Tools, and it’s a cross-platform command line utility. It’s also available as an AMI and a VM image. What Tidal Tools can do is, it’ll connect to vSphere and can grab your inventory of servers, but it can also run database configuration analysis.
So you give it your credentials of your database, it’ll go in and grab that schema and analyze it - same with source code. It’ll do the source code analysis on your machine where you’re executing it from. Your source code never leaves your environment, neither does your data. Just looking at the schema as well.
High Security Posture
Audience member: How do you convince companies who have a very high security posture?
David Colebatch: Every customer we’ve worked with is very stringent on security.
Our early customers all had air gapped networks that we weren’t allowed to touch. So yes, customers are running our tools themselves and the tools all have offline modes. So you run them in completely isolated environments. You can inspect the payload so you don’t have to trust us on it.
You can actually inspect what it’s doing and, and the outputs from it. It’s just the metadata that gets uploaded to the platform for further evaluation. The other thing is many of our scripts, like the more intrusive ones, the ones that might actually connect to your machines to gather facts from them, they’re all open source on GitHub.
Unveiling the Process of Determining Business Cases and Recommendations
Audience member: When it comes to the complexity of migration, yes, you can look into code, you can look into configuration, but there’s a lot more, right?
You gotta look into the data, you gotta look into how they’re architected. You have to look into it, there’s so many components to it. You mentioned static code data, and then configuration data. But what behind the scenes goes into play for you to determine your business case or recommendation?
David Colebatch: There are two separate trains of thought for us on that. On migration recommendations, there are about 200 data points that go in there. We have a whole whitepaper that we share with customers, on how that works. And again, you can tweak the recommendations weighting for some of those categories or factors.
But we’ll also look at things like operating system version software libraries in your source code, looking for vulnerabilities and compatibility issues primarily. And we’re trying to measure the application complexity and migration difficulty factors to keep it simple.
We’ve reduced everything down to that migration difficulty score.
And then our recommendation model considers that with business value in order to drive 6Rs.
How CCoEs Can Optimize Cloud Adoption with Tidal
Audience member: You can provide the recommendation. The 7Rs, but then what’s next? Do you go even further into the details of how?
David Colebatch: The software will recommend the migration method. So refactor, replatform, rehost.
The thing that Tidal built into its platform early on was this cloud architecture gallery, to support CCoE teams. CCoEs often want to create patterns of adoption and best practices. What we do in our platform is that we have that library, architecture gallery and teams can select the right template that they want to apply to a particular workload.
We usually do that post assessment once they’ve got the 6R Analysis done.
Unlocking Savings Through Licensing Optimization
Marcus Pozzan: Talk to me a little bit about what you do around licensing from a rationalization?
David Colebatch: Yeah, licensing across the Microsoft licensing stack, Oracle licensing, or what we saw earlier Neo4J licensing.
What we like to consider is, does the workload need to stay on the current proprietary platform that it’s on? And if so, why? We really want to challenge that, and we sometimes show customers 80% savings just from licensing optimizations without dropping workloads.
So licensing optimization can be things like, dropping SQL Server Enterprise Edition, adopting Babelfish on Aurora Postgres. Taking that workload from SQL to Postgres. Using the Babelfish emulation layer those things produce amazing results and also provide a very scalable data platform for workload.
How Does the Tidal Platform Help with Comparing Financial Outputs?
Marcus Pozzan: Can you talk a little bit about how your platform helps with comparing financial outputs?
David Colebatch: Well, there’s two areas. There’s the one we do in the OMA program - which I should probably tell everyone about. But first, on Tidal Calculator, which you could all use today for free. It, it takes a spreadsheet, like an export from RV Tools or your CMDB, and it’ll show you scenarios across any AWS region and any currency you like for optimized rehost or optimized re-platform migrations.
It allows you to do What If Analyses that way. So you can say, what if I recopied my applications to use Graviton processors? We know that there’s 40% savings off the bat there. What would that do to my bottom line? In a couple minutes you can have those types of results and it provides you with a directional business case for cloud.
But it’s just directional in nature. The next step would be to do that comprehensive assessment that I’m a big fan of, and that gives you more details to actually plan and budget around.
Success with OMA Customers
Marcus Pozzan: Have we seen success with OMA with customers?
David Colebatch: The biggest success I think is breaking through that analysis paralysis in telcos and non-banking financial customers. Showing customers.
What’s the next step? How do I get there? The business cases are too strong to ignore. And at that point, either AWS ProServe, or the customer themselves, is engaging in that migration effort to make that value realization happen.
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