Status Go: Ep. 212 – The Cloud is too expensive. Think again. | Braden Pitts


In this episode of the Status Go podcast we bust another myth! Think Cloud is too expensive? Think again! Braden Pitts, vp of technology at MJ Insurance joins us to systematically destroy the myth. We talked about how to manage costs and maximize benefits when considering cloud options for your business. We covered everything from core systems and business usage perspective to leveraging the shared accountability model of cloud providers and utilizing cost-saving mechanisms. Braden shared his passion for innovation and leveraging the economies of scale of cloud services such as AWS and Azure. He also discussed the importance of being a good leader and knowing when and why to adopt new technology.

About Bradon Pitts

Braden Pitts is an accomplished technology leader currently serving as the Vice President of Technology at MJ Insurance. With over a decade of experience in the industry, he plays a pivotal role in overseeing all technical operations and shaping the strategic technology roadmap for the organization.

Prior to his current role, Braden’s diverse professional journey led him to a consulting company that specializes in big data, security, and automation products. As the Director of Service Delivery and Technology, his leadership extended to five direct report managers and approximately 45 field engineers spread across the United States. He effectively managed the Project Management Office (PMO) and provided oversight to the Facility Security Officer and Associate Facility Security Officer (FSO/AFSO), cementing his skills in diverse aspects of technology leadership.

Educationally, Braden is equipped with an associate’s degree in Information Technology from Ivy Tech of Central Indiana (2015), later enhancing his academic credentials with a Bachelor’s in Information Technology from Colorado State University’s Global Campus (2022). A strong advocate for continuous learning, he achieved the prestigious Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification in 2022.

Professionally, Braden harbors keen interests in areas such as cyber security, software development, network infrastructure, cloud computing, generative AI and prompt engineering, and pushing the boundaries of innovation by leveraging cutting-edge technology. Outside the confines of his professional life, he is a student pilot, an avid camper, and a high-performance car and truck enthusiast.

Combining industry experience, academic proficiency, and professional curiosity, Braden Pitts is committed to leading technology operations and strategy with a forward-thinking vision, constantly striving to enhance and safeguard the digital landscape at MJ Insurance.

Episode Highlights:

[00:00:48]: Myth Busters: The Cloud is Too Expensive & Welcome

[00:02:09]: Braden Pitts’ Career Journey

[00:03:10]: The Pivot into Leadership

[00:05:19]: MJ Insurance’s Cloud Journey and Tech Stack

[00:06:39]: Current Mix of Cloud & On-Premises

[00:08:45]: Accidental Multi-Cloud

[00:10:15]: Deciding Which Cloud

[00:12:10]: Cost Comparisons

[00:17:09]: Shared Security Model

[00:19:42]: The Cloud and Innovation

[00:24:02]: CFO Relationship

[00:27:25]: Business-Speak

[00:30:14]: Monitoring Cloud Cost Run-Rate

[00:32:51]: Busting the Myth

[00:34:18]: Call-to-Action

[00:35:44]: Thank you and Close



Episode Transcript

Braden Pitts [00:00:00]:

I remember a director of mine at one time, we were doing this million-and-a-half-dollar project. He got all the benefits. We’re going to do all this crazy, you know, we’re going to be able to service the customer faster. We’ll be able to troubleshoot and find these issues faster. And he’s like, great. What’s the cost of not doing it? If I do this project, do I get a return on investment for the quality of life for my humans that are out there executing the mission for us?

Jeff Ton [00:00:48]:

Welcome back to our continuing series MythBusters, Cloud, Security, and Innovation. Like the much more famous MythBusters TV show, we’re going to dive into several myths and, through interviews, case studies, and data, bust that myth. Follow us over the next several months as we share blogs, infographics, and of course, podcast episodes. On the second Monday of each month, we will interview a peer CIO, CTO, or business owner who has successfully busted the myth of the month. 2 weeks later, we will hear from an InterVision expert who will further destroy the myth.

Now one of the myths that we hear most often when speaking with technology professionals is that the cloud is too expensive. We all hear stories of runaway costs, of companies even repatriating some of their workloads, and the horror stories of being called on the carpet by CFOs. Today, we are joined by Braden Pitts. Braden is the Vice President of Technology for MJ Insurance, 1 of the largest privately held insurance agencies in the country. Together, we are going to bust that myth. Braden, welcome to Status Go.

Braden Pitts [00:02:06]:

Hey, Jeff. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

Jeff Ton [00:02:09]:

I really appreciate the way that you jumped on my request to be on the podcast and talk through your story and your perspective on cloud. Really appreciate that. Before we dive into really digging into this myth, share a little bit about your background, your journey, what brought you to where you are today?

Braden Pitts [00:02:33]:

Yeah, absolutely. I kind of grew up with computers and took the traditional path. I got an Associate’s degree from a local community college and then did some credit transfer and went to Colorado State to finish a bachelor’s degree in information technology management. I’ve kind of set it every seat at the table. I’ve been on the services side, the software side, I’ve been a developer, I’ve been on site working with our customers doing deployments and found a niche in leadership and took a couple opportunities. And now I’m, as you said, vice president of technology for MJ.

Jeff Ton [00:03:10]:

That’s excellent. What was the decision process like to move into a leadership role, to kind of leave behind maybe some of the hands-on stuff and get more into leadership? What was that like for you?


Braden Pitts [00:03:30]:

Yeah, I think it’s a tough decision that engineers have to come to a point in their tenure as they’re kind of going through their career. So, like I said, I was an engineer and I had a lot of experience going on-site and working with customers doing implementations of different products. And one of the things I really enjoyed was understanding the business case for why the customer was implementing a certain piece of software, or we were doing services for a certain application. And so, I started just kind of naturally getting more involved in that. And I had CSMs and regional managers that would pull me in and be like, okay, You’re like the only engineer that is willing to talk to the customer. So can you like explain in simple terms, you know, what it is we’re doing and why it matters?

And so I just got more involved in that. And then I like the growth and development perspective. So I have an opportunity in a previous role to oversee a bench of about 45 engineers that were doing services implementations across the United States, both in private and public sector. All of them had aspirations and goals, and it was kind of fun to be able to get hands-on and share some of my experience and say, Hey, you know, um, these are some courses or some education, uh, series that you might want to take a look at that might help further you in your career and set them up.

And, and yeah, so the pairing that up, the people leadership side and the technology leadership side just kind of naturally led me down to make that decision. You can either be a really good technologist, or you can be a really good leader. I think it’s tough to be both sometimes. So, I chose the leadership path, and I just try to stay current on what the new and trendy stuff is.

Jeff Ton [00:05:02]:

Yeah, it sounds a lot like my own path. You find out that helping others grow in their career is even more rewarding than writing a great new algorithm or something.

Braden Pitts [00:05:16]:

Oh, yeah.

Jeff Ton [00:05:19]:

I think it’s what helps us make that jump. Well, let’s talk about MJ and their cloud journey. What’s that been like for the organization? And then a little bit about maybe where they are today, what their stack looks like today.

Braden Pitts [00:05:36]:

Yeah, absolutely. I came on board with MJ a little over 18 months ago. I’ve been with MJ for about a year and a half now and I picked up the baton and kept running sort of the same path that my predecessor had outlined for the organization on migrating away from legacy technology stack and leveraging more microservices and cloud service architecture software service. My predecessor was at the reins during the pandemic. And so, he had to guide the organization through that kind of “employee anywhere” situation. So, I think the SaaS and cloud architecture really lended itself to helping improve the flexibility of the work anywhere situation during the pandemic. And now we’re just learning, you know, whether the organization is hybrid or remote, having that flexibility in our SaaS architecture or cloud architecture continues to pay dividends on just agility and being able to pivot on new business ideas.

Jeff Ton [00:06:39]:

So what’s the current mix today? Cloud versus on-premises, that kind of thing?

Braden Pitts [00:06:47]:

Yeah. So, we’ve pretty much migrated most of our data platforms. We have a product that is a data analytics platform for our customers. And we’ve migrated all that into the cloud at this point. We leverage services from AWS and Microsoft Azure to support that product. We kind of, and that’s kind of the fun part, too, right? Because instead of trying to home gross the solutions or implement different on-premises hardware, maintain VMware stack, or maintain Hyper-V stack or whatever, we can kind of just focus on the architecture of the application and then do modularity. We can pick and choose what pieces of services we want to plug into that stack. So, you know, for example, on that analytics product, We offer Microsoft Azure Active Directory as our AD or as our identity provider in that platform.

And then, meanwhile, we’ve got a tech stack of our own that we’ve developed kind of the secret sauce around the algorithms and data analytics that we maintain, and we can keep our focus on that piece and not be overwhelmed with trying to maintain IDP and infrastructure and servers and patching and all that kind of stuff.

So, in a split, I would say we’re probably pretty close to 85, 15 right now, uh, 85 in the cloud, 15 on-premises. We have a couple of legacy applications. So, in being in the insurance space, there’s some, um, niche products that, that we just can’t seem to get, get off premises. I was speaking with my system administrator yesterday, and we were looking at the rack. We have 3 racks of equipment in our Indianapolis data center. And we were looking at it and he’s like, “Man, there’s only like six physical boxes left in here.” And I was like, “Yeah, that’s four too many.”

We’re slowly getting down, and you know, he’s like, “Well, how do we know when we’re done? How do we know like when we’ve succeeded?” And I said, “Well, we’ll know when we’ve succeeded if we look at this rack, and the only thing that’s in there is routing, switching, and security, and we’re done.”

Jeff Ton [00:08:45]:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, and so you guys have gone all in on the Cloud journey, and I love that. One of the things you mentioned that jumped out at me is, you’re multi-Cloud, you’re leveraging AWS and Azure. How did that come about, and I guess why? What are you leveraging from each one of those?

Braden Pitts [00:09:07]:

Yeah, I’d love to say that there’s a grand scheme behind that, and there’s, you know, some crazy corporate strategy, But what it really came down to is that it’s been through regime change over time. So we’ve had developers that were extremely well-versed in the AWS services. They would use Terraform to deploy to AWS. And they were confident, they understood it.

And then we have a team of folks right now that we work heavily in the power platform, the Microsoft Power platform, so Power Automate, Power BI, et cetera. And so that lends our hand to having to use some Azure services.

And so we said, well, you know, this is actually just like on, you know, back on the premises days where we had a data center in Arizona data center in Indianapolis, and we were doing, you know, a cross-site redundancy in DR, we could do the same thing kind of in the cloud where we don’t put all of our eggs in one basket with AWS, and we don’t put all of our eggs in one basket with Azure and we can kind of, you know, use both of the best of each of those services to our advantage.

Jeff Ton [00:10:15]:

I love how you took advantage of something that wasn’t necessarily planned but played to the strengths of your team, an accidental multi-cloud technology, but then you’ve leveraged it to take full advantage of those capabilities. I think that’s great. As you’ve been doing this, the cloud migration and working through this cloud journey, are there other cases where you’ve looked and said, well, this needs to be an AWS, this needs to be Azure now that you’ve got those dual clouds?

Braden Pitts [00:10:52]:

Yeah, absolutely. I’ll give you a primary example, it’s probably Microsoft SQL Server. So that’s one of the on-premises legacy pieces of technology that we still have. So we have a Microsoft SQL Server on-premises that runs primarily a document management system that we use for our paperless process. And so, it’s a pretty beefy machine, and it requires SQL enterprise licensing. And that’s one of those deals where you have to do the cost analysis between AWS and Microsoft Azure because Microsoft is willing to give you a break on licensing and on compute, if you’re using their products in their cloud, right? So, we haven’t really made that decision quite yet. We’re still looking at it because we heavily utilize RDS and AWS, so relational data services and AWS, but It’s definitely on the plate that with licensing, we can’t get away from using SQL Server for this product. We have to use it. So, if the best case from a cost management perspective is to put that into Azure, it doesn’t really matter to us because we maintain network connectivity between home base and the cloud, the same for Azure as we do for AWS.

Jeff Ton [00:12:10]:

So that kind of brings in this whole question of, you know, our myth that we’re working on this month, that we’re addressing this month, is the cloud is too expensive. And going back to your career journey, you mentioned one of the magic words, business case, right? How do you begin to compare the costs, the investments in cloud versus on-premises? What, what’s your methodology for doing that?

Braden Pitts [00:12:47]:

Yeah, absolutely. So, it is all a fundamentally starts with, is this a core system that will live in our ecosystem long term? And if the answer to that is maybe or even yes, then we start doing a pretty detailed analysis and trying to understand. There are a myriad of on-premises expenses that seem to always get left out of cost calculation. So, we already talked about one of them licensing. So, um, if you’re not already in a, an agreement with Microsoft for site licensing, if you’re paying per core for Hyper-V, if you’re paying per license for server 2022 or whatever you’re doing, that’s an expense that I feel like always gets missed on calculation.

The other two big ones are the cost of redundancy. You have to understand from a business usage perspective, like if this is gonna be a gold tier application, something that’s mission critical for the business, Are you going to retain failover capability? Are you going to have high availability in this solution? And if so, what’s your strategy for that? Because some people, it is a totally valid case to run an application on-premises and then use cloud for your high availability failover instead of building out a second site or something like that.

So we’ll do that analysis because we’re fortunate. We have the capability to have a second site out in Arizona, and we can, you know, build some infrastructure out there if we want to failover. But, you know, so there’s a little bit of calculation, and what does it cost for DR? You have to understand your recovery point objective, your recovery time objective, RPO, RTO. And based on that, then you can understand like, am I keeping, um, generator and battery backup at the remote site? Am I keeping generator and battery backup on my primary site? Likewise, carrier redundancy.

So, MJ, a few years ago, MJ built out a new building in Carmel, Indiana. And so, as they went through that process, they had to determine. Um, with a new building, it wasn’t already on network for a few different fiber providers. So where are we going to engage with multiple carriers and have them do fiber build-out into the building? And if we did that, um, so much overhead there too, right? Like now I’ve got to manage the barriers and ask them, hey, are you both coming in on the West side of the building? Are you both sharing the last mile? Are you both…right? So, you know, when I look at cloud, you think about the shared accountability model in cloud, right? Some of that, the infrastructure, the security and whatnot, I can pawn off or push off to the cloud provider and let them handle the day-to-day data center operations, and I can focus on the application.

So how much is my time worth? How much is failover going to be worth? Are there hidden costs like licensing that I’m not thinking about in that calculation? And we just break it all the way down into an analysis model of, you know, this application is relatively complex, and it’s going to require 2 or 3 VMs to run on-site, we’re going to have failover, and we apply those cost overheads and try to understand…almost like for like, right? Because in Azure and AWS, you’re going to get like a per-hour pricing. So what’s my per-hour pricing to run my private stack?

Jeff Ton [00:16:09]:

Yeah, yeah. Well, and I love that you go into that much detail, and you try to identify the things

that sometimes get left out of the calculation or may not even be implemented because they’re too costly to do it on price. Right? The redundancy and the failover, a lot of companies are like, yeah, we’d love to be able to do that, but it’s too much. You kind of get that not built into the cloud, but you have that capability.

Jeff Ton [00:17:09]:

We’re talking today with Braden. Braden’s talking about busting the myth of the cloud is too expensive. And we’ve already covered a lot of ground. Braden, you mentioned a couple of things right before the break that I want to circle back on, and that is the shared security model. How much does that play into your decision of cloud versus on-premises, and maybe even which cloud?

Braden Pitts [00:17:52]:

Yeah, believe it or not, today, more than probably ever, and here’s why. So, if you recall back a few years, a pretty large telemetry and monitoring company had a supply chain attack where malware was introduced into their update server. And that organization inadvertently passed malware-laden updates to hundreds of thousands of customers all across the United States. And so, because of that, we’ve seen, and just the general evolution of security in the enterprise, we begin to see a pretty dramatic uptick in organizations that have strict vendor management processes. And as a part of that vendor management process, we’re beginning to get more and more pressure on sharing our security strategies, sharing our security policies and documentation, meeting certain requirements. And then we also have cyber liability insurance that we’re purchasing every year. And they have, the underwriters have questions about our posture and security.

And so, as we go through those exercises, it’s a lot easier for me to send a link to AWS shared accountability model and say, listen, we use cloud resources, those VMs, those EC 2 instances, those whatever are running in AWS is infrastructure, they maintain the security and sanctity of that infrastructure. They maintain the physical premises, they maintain visitor logs, they maintain access control. That’s their responsibility. Our responsibility, depending upon which service we’re using, is pretty much either the OS up or, if not using EC2 and using some of the other microservices, it’s typically from the application up, right? Which again, makes it easier for us to focus time and energy on securing the application instead of the entire tech stack. Yeah,

Jeff Ton [00:19:42]:

and it does. It helps you eliminate some of the things that you have to pay attention to. And you can, not necessarily check that box, but you can check that box on some of those things because somebody else is taking care of it. The other thing that you mentioned is innovation. So, talk a little bit about how putting your applications and your data in the cloud has, A) helped you to be more innovative, and from the cloud perspective, what things are you taking advantage of from the cloud providers to be innovative? So, kind of two sides of the same coin there.

Braden Pitts [00:20:25]:

Yeah, absolutely. And so, this is where my favorite piece, probably most passionate about this piece of cloud, And that’s because we get to leverage the economy of scale of these hyper scalers of AWS of Azure or whatever. So, these guys can provide services, enterprise-grade services to us at a fraction of the cost that we would have to pay to have something on-premises. A really easy example would be if you had a traditional three-tier web app on-premises. You have your application, a web server, and a database on-premises, you’re maintaining all that. Now let’s say you’re going to add high availability or load balancing to it. You’re going to bring in F5 load balancers, you’re going to license those. And you got a security stack in front of that, Palo Altos or whatever you want, Cisco Firepower, right?

So, you know, you quickly start running up a pretty big tab just to put load balancing and security in front of this three-tier app, whereas I can get on AWS and I can deploy a load balancer for whatever, a few cents an hour. And then let’s say we go global with this application, and we need to have it mirrored on a CDN globally around the world, I can throw AWS Global Accelerator in front of it again for, it’s not a few cents, so don’t take me out of context, but a couple of dollars or whatever it is, right? Yeah. And the other piece of it is too, is that we don’t have to wait to try that technology out.

So, if we’re thinking that there might be a new and better way for us to do something, we can just go straight in and deploy the service and start trying, you know, we have a dev and a test environment. So we’ll go straight in and deploy the dev or test and try out the architecture. And if it seems to work, we can, you know, we have a data architect and a network architect, and these guys can collaborate together and say, yeah, this is probably our production architecture. Let’s, you know, build that into Terraform and deploy it or whatever we’re gonna do.

So that accelerates that curiosity in our architects too, because they could go out and say, oh, I’ve never seen this. We were talking today about using, like we have a pretty advanced ETL process for pulling data from different insurance carriers and whatnot. And so, uh, they’re looking at totally reinventing that we have a bunch of manual process that occurs today. Uh, we have a bunch of flat files and things that they’re, you know, part of the industry insurance industry is not quite up to the same speed as high tech in some cases. So, API access may not be available for everything we pull, and we’re still getting CSV files and Excel sheets and stuff.

So, we write custom programming to go through and RPA to go through and get these files and bring them back. And we want to be able to chew those up and put them into data where we need to. And we’re looking right now at leveraging managed workflows in AWS, which leverages the Apache Airflow for orchestration of different ETL or different processes. And that’s like something AWS has that managed service now. So, we can just go subscribe to it and start off. And, you know, we’re not building out a new box to do that.

And then the other pieces we were just talking about, like, okay, well, now we, today we like put all those files into a Windows file share on-premises. And then we have a robot that picks them up out of the file share and does its magic and puts it in the database. So, like, oh, well maybe we’ll just create an S3 bucket. We’ll put the documents in the S3 bucket. We’ll use notifications off the S3 bucket to run a Lambda script. We’ll run that serverless Lambda script to digest the data and insert it into RDS. And look, we didn’t have to touch this. No on-premises infrastructure, no file shares, you know, the whole 9 yards.

Jeff Ton [00:24:02]:

I love that. And I know at the outset, you talked about you’re able to focus on the, the applications, which helps you be, uh, helps you to innovate within the applications as well. I want to pivot now and talk more of the money side, more of the financial side. Talk about your relationship with your CFO and how those conversations go as you’re talking about your business cases and cloud versus on-premises. What’s that like?

Braden Pitts [00:24:37]:

Yeah, I think any cost center IT guy can tell you that you got to be best buddies with your CFO or you’re in for a long road of suffering. And the best way to be best buddies with your CFO is 1), know the lingo, understand, understand the business’s operating model, understand whether OpEx or CapEx is important to them, and understand where we want to put our investments and all that. Right.

But the second piece of it is, like I said, we do that analysis to break it down almost to show our per-hour cost on-premises, and then we break it down to show the cloud per-hour cost. And we explain, we extrapolate over years, too, right? So we try to estimate the useful service life of the applications we put together. Um, and say, okay, well, over the next five years, we’re going to run this infrastructure, it’s going to cost us, um, this many, you know, cents or this many dollars per hour, 744 hours in a month, multiply it out, right. And show that value and then kind of explain, um, you know, the different models because let’s, I mean, let’s be true. There’s, there’s many different ways to consume optics or CapEx on premises. These days too. I think that’s like, uh, that’s probably a myth in itself that people believe that, you know, on-premises infrastructure is only CapEx and there’s no way to do an OpEx model on that, but you could lease it or whatever. Right.

So, so, so they kind of offset each other in that sense, but we talk a lot about just value, and back to that, that value prop equation we were talking about a minute ago is, am I serving the customer? Am I serving the business? If my team is spending time dealing with redundancy, building secondary servers, building secondary sites, maintaining multiple network connections, maintaining a backup battery, because we’ll have to have a maintenance contract on our backup batteries. We’re gonna have to have a maintenance contract on our gen sets. We’re gonna have to have a maintenance contract on whatever, you know, carrier equipment and things that we’ve got going on inside the infrastructure. So Am I serving the customer by spending a bunch of time, um, maintaining that infrastructure or am I serving the customer better? Um, even if it is a slightly higher cost, there’s been plenty of times where we look at the cloud and we go, okay, our price per hour may be higher on the cloud side, but it’s taking load off of my team and allowing me to flex that FTE to do other things that they weren’t doing before.

That is probably like, if that’s not what you’re thinking about already, you’ve got to be thinking about, Hey, I’m already resource constrained. So, as a cost center and IT, we don’t want to add more headcount than we need to service the customer. Can I remove some of that toil? Can I remove some of that burden from my team that’s not productive and turn that into productive outcomes for the customer? And 90% of the time, that’s like, let’s leverage the most agile, flexible technology we can, which is typically a cloud technology of some sort.

Jeff Ton [00:27:25]:

I love what you also said there, Braden, about knowing the lingo, talking with your CFO in the language of the business, and knowing what the business values. Where did that insight for you come from? Can you pinpoint a time in your career where it’s like, I got to talk business?

Braden Pitts [00:27:51]:

Yeah, absolutely. So, it was probably when I worked in services consulting. So that’s, that’s where I was at before this current position. And there were plenty of times where we were staring down the barrel of some major issue that we needed to resolve either, and it was going to cost money. And it was going to be some hardware or some software that we needed to implement, some license we needed to purchase. And, you know, I think it’s really easy, um, for someone to go get a quote for a piece of software and then hold the quote up and be like, yeah, I have this problem to solve. It’s going to be $25, 000. Um, but that doesn’t really tell the full story.

Uh, like number 1, I remember, uh, I remember a director of mine at one time, we were doing this crazy presentation on a SIM. And, uh, you know, we’re talking about this million-and-a-half dollar project, and he got it. He got all the benefits. We’re going to do all this crazy, you know, we’re going to be able to service the customer faster. We’ll be able to troubleshoot and find these issues faster. And he’s like, great. What’s the cost of not doing it? And it made me like, stop and think, and I took, I totally took it the wrong way. The first time I took it as this, like, oh, well, you know, we’re just, if it’s more, if it’s cheaper to not do it, then we’re just not going to do it. No, he was asking what’s the cost of not doing it. Again, back in that terms of productivity back in that terms, not just financial terms.

The leader of the previous organization I was in kind of coined this phrase, he calls the Three ROIs and those three, everyone gets focused on the financial ROI. Uh, but, he had coined the term Three ROIs and always talked about the Mission ROI and the Human ROI. Right. So, if I do this project, do I get a return on investment for the quality of life for my humans that are out there executing the mission for us? If I do this project, Do I get an ROI on the mission for what we’re trying to serve the customer? Like if our goal is X, do we get ROI on X and then financially? Yeah. Some things are going to make financial sense. I, most people want to have a financial return on investment, but there’s also growth and innovation, R & D, uh, application to that. So there may be R & D application where you’re going to have mission ROI and human ROI, and you’re going to have negative financial ROI. And that is a, how do we, how do we step forward as a business and do new innovative, and I’m going to use the buzzword disruptive. How do we do new, innovative, disruptive things for people? And that’s by looking at your other ROI is not just the financial ROI.

Jeff Ton [00:30:14]:

Well, and if you’re if you’re a negative financial ROI, then it’s an investment in either, the human side. Right. Right. One last question for you, Braden, is we’re almost out of time here. What tools, if any, do you use to analyze and keep your run rate in the cloud at an acceptable level?

Braden Pitts [00:30:34]:

Yeah, there’s a couple easy wins to start with, right? So, as someone, I’m putting my shoes on here to think of someone that’s just now getting into the cloud space, and they find it overwhelming, and they say, oh, wow, it’s easy for this to get away from me quick. What do I do? My initial thought is, use the built-in tools, use the tools that exist in AWS, the cost explorer, set up alerts for billing, set up alerts for service utilization, set budgets for your utilization.

And then there are other opportunities out there beyond that. I know we have an industry partner, Zylo, that does a platform that looks at the utilization of SaaS platforms and licensing there. So, I personally have not used Zylo, but I’ve seen a demonstration of it. I think for the large enterprise, it probably does make sense to understand the utilization of different SaaS platforms, and cloud platforms. So that’s kind of piece 1 of it.

The other thing too, is like, try to understand the cloud you’re going into, or if not, find a good partner, whether it be InterVision or otherwise, find a good partner that understands that platform and can develop for efficiency and can leverage the built in cost saving mechanisms of that platform.

So, you know, AWS, if you go out and you deploy on demand instances, they’re going to be way more expensive than doing a cost, a savings plan or doing a reserved instance. So if you have a piece of equipment that you know you’re going to keep for 3, 5 years, go ahead and do that cost, that savings plan, go ahead and do that reservation for three years because it’s a tremendous discount you’re going to get on having that resource out there.

And lastly, talk to your reps at AWS, talk to your reps at Azure because you start out as a small shop and you quickly grow your spend at AWS as you’re building up your infrastructure or whatever. There are probably thresholds for commitment where you’re going to start getting discounts on services. And I’m going to be honest with you, that is not something they’re just going to come out and be like, oh, look, MJ, you’re now committed at this monetary level. So we’re going to give you a 30% off, right? You got to go and ask. And so, you know, the only way you’re going to ask that question though, is if you have good clarity and insight into your spend. And the best way to do that is to use the built-in tools. Yep.

Jeff Ton [00:32:51]:

I love that. Go and ask because they’re not going to provide it. So, Braden, I want you to imagine you’re talking with a peer CIO, a peer VP of IT, and they say, “oh, the cloud’s too expensive.” What’s your message? What’s your soundbite for telling them and busting that myth?

Braden Pitts [00:33:15]:

Yeah, I mean, my natural curiosity always wants me to start with, well, what makes you think that, right? But I think, ultimately, the soundbite here would probably be something along the lines of it’s probably more expensive to not adopt new technology. And it’s probably more expensive to continue to ignore trends in the industry than it is to just understand and spend the time to find a partner. You don’t have to take it on yourself. That’s, that’s probably the number one lesson learned in my life is I’ve always tried to be super self-sufficient. I got to go and read up on everything and learn everything. Man, just find you a good, trusted partner that you can ask questions to. They can guide you in the right direction and then leverage that partner to help you develop that architecture because the cost of innovation is, is not worth continuing to ignore it. The cost of freeing up your FTEs to go do work in other areas that’s more productive for the business is not worth it. Also, your business units are probably getting pretty savvy, and they’re probably hearing from their partners, and they’re going to start asking you why you’re not doing it. So hopefully, you’ve got a good story for why you’re not doing it, right?

Jeff Ton [00:34:18]:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, and if you’re not doing it, chances are your competition is. Well, you know, Braden, as we were preparing for our conversation today, we talked about Status Go and I know you’re a listener of the show, so you know the final question. I didn’t necessarily have to warn you, but what are one or two things that our listeners should do tomorrow because they listened to our conversation today?

Braden Pitts [00:34:45]:

Yeah, so if you’re not in the cloud today, I don’t think you need to go lift and shift your workload today but go explore. And there are multiple mechanisms in Azure and in AWS. So, in Azure, I think they give you, like, as a developer, you get like 300 free dollars’ worth of credits in Azure. So, you can go out and deploy a resource and test and play around.

And in AWS, AWS has a very extensive free tier offering these days where pretty much all of their big mainstream services have some level of threshold where you can do and use their services, even in production on the free tier. Um, and it allows you to get out and try and understand the platform and the capabilities. So I would say that.

And then the part 2 is I would, if you know, you need to move to the cloud or, you know, you need help. I would start seeking out that trusted advisor and find someone that can help guide you in the right direction on that. Or at least point you, if you’re a self-sufficient person, and you want to learn on your own, at least point you where to get started on digging in.

Jeff Ton [00:35:44]:

Those are two great actions. Go explore and find a trusted advisor that can help point you in the right direction. Braden, thank you so much. I really appreciate you being on the podcast today. I really have enjoyed our conversations, and I look forward to many, many more. Thank you so much.


Braden Pitts [00:36:03]:

Absolutely, thanks for having me.


Jeff Ton [00:36:05]:

There you have it, myth busted. The cloud is an excellent option for companies. It is not necessarily expensive. You have to manage your costs. You have to keep them in line, you have to be pragmatic about it, but it’s probably more expensive not to go in that direction in terms of innovation and security.


To learn more and dive deeper into these myths, visit To find the show notes and the interview transcript for this episode, go to The show notes will provide links and contact information. If you’re interested in continuing the discussion, also look for the Status Go podcast group on LinkedIn. We have some lively discussions about the episodes, and we continue learning from each other and sharing insights. This is Jeff Ton for Braden Pitts. Thank you very much for listening.

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