An interview with Bob Hersch has been saved
An interview with Bob Hersch
Deloitte on Cloud Blog
David Linthicum sits down with the Azure practice leader and cloud infrastructure and engineering leader for Deloitte Consulting LLP.
I recently sat down with Bob Hersch to talk about certain aspects of Deloitte’s Azure capabilities, including private cloud and IoT deployments. Bob is a principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP and leads Deloitte’s Azure practice, where he's responsible for advancing the strategy offerings and overall capabilities of Deloitte's cloud business. He also leads the Infrastructure and Engineering service capabilities group at Deloitte. I was eager to hear from Bob how Azure is being used by large enterprises to support their cloud journey.
Bob did note at the beginning of our discussion that Microsoft is an audit client of Deloitte, and as such, Deloitte can’t be a partner nor have an alliance with Azure. There are a number of other independence considerations that apply as well. For example, we cannot market or advocate for them and vice-versa, we don’t sell together or develop joint solutions to take to market. But of course, we can and we do provide services that relate to the implementation of Azure and other Microsoft products to our clients and we can talk about Deloitte’s capabilities and credentials to provide Azure related services to clients.
The key to becoming a trusted advisor is the ability to see through the distractions and look where the cloud is going, identify what is meaningful to the organization, and help move the organization in the right direction. That seems to align well with your responsibility to be an objective, independent advisor to clients using Azure.
Yes, absolutely. I view Deloitte as an objective consulting advisor and implementer across the board, whether we're talking about Google Cloud, or Amazon Web Services, or Microsoft Azure, or any of the other platform providers. I see our independence as an advantage, because it requires us to have straightforward, honest, and objective conversations. There are no incentives, no advantages that Deloitte receives from Microsoft to build Microsoft solutions that our clients can take advantage of. So, I make that transparency clear. Our clients respect our independence, and value it–especially when we proactively educate them about it. When we perform suitability assessments or comparisons across cloud platforms, Deloitte is completely objective based on what’s right for the client situation. This instills trust, coupled with our world-class cloud capabilities and specifically our Azure experience at scale to deliver services.
So you have to maintain this objectivity with your clients as well as provide guidance to the public in general. Based on what you’ve seen over the last year and trends on the horizons, what do enterprises need to know about Azure and Cloud?
You really can't go wrong with any of the big market leaders when it comes to a cloud platform. Speaking specifically about Microsoft Azure, in the beginning they were coming from behind. Under Satya Nadella and Scott Guthrie's leadership, they've made up significant ground. Microsoft’s enterprise products, such as Office 365 and Active Directory, have a large install base, making them relevant to many major organizations. And because they own a good share of the access management and authentication market through its Active Directory product1, the step to Azure can be a natural transition for a number of organizations. In addition, they have a mature account relationship and trusted advisor operating model that has been in place for many years, and so Azure has become a consideration for many organizations.
What I've noticed in the last couple of years is that they've increased the momentum in getting some of the major services out there, and they're moving in the direction where I think that many enterprises are looking to work with them. That’s just an independent observation based on some recent articles I’ve seen in terms of how they're doing and what I’ve observed from how the market is evolving.2,3
Yes, I totally agree. The relationships they have within the enterprises are not just limited to IT and go across the business, giving them a significant footprint. Microsoft has a long history of providing industry specific solutions for a number of its product suites. They have always been a company that the marketplace has to pay attention to, not only in terms of building capability, but also the influence they have in the marketplace. One other advantage for Azure is that many organizations are not direct competitors of Microsoft in other sectors, unlike situations where some other Cloud providers may compete with potential Cloud customers in other areas.
I think Microsoft is also focused on being an innovator in the hybrid cloud space versus being a follower. You can look at Azure Stack as an example of that. At the 2019 Microsoft Ignite conference, Microsoft stated that “we believe hybrid is a permanent, not temporary state,” and its release of the new Azure ARC service on top of Azure stack is evidence of that.4 I think the market is looking for a platform analog of a particular cloud provider that's able to sit on-premises, because not everything can move to cloud in the speed that they need to move to the cloud.
That’s an excellent point. Microsoft, like their competitors, realized that while the public cloud is popular and taking off, not all customers were going to move to public cloud right away. Many customers would be receptive to an alternate option, which is where the Azure Stack came in. The Azure Stack has evolved in the last couple years. Hybrid cloud goes to market by way of a hardware provider that resells the on-premises hardware stack that's built in. Microsoft initially created this to manage an on-premises cloud with an off-premises public cloud together. And there are a lot of other reasons for enterprises to favor a hybrid cloud model–they might have large-scale remote operations and spotty or unreliable connectivity, or the need could be on a cruise ship or it could be on another type of remote destination. Having the ability to operate a cloud whether you're online or offline based on the operational need was already done, but lately Microsoft has continued to evolve this capability into Azure Stack. When enterprises are on it, there is flexibility to operate the Azure cloud, whether it's on-premises or off-premises workloads, as if it's all on just one control plane as opposed to two.
We're getting into these multi-cloud worlds, because people misidentified certain applications as something that are going to be successful in the cloud, and then suddenly they're back on-premises, having to leverage the same tool sets. We're not increasing the complexity of the tool sets, or the complexity of the app dev platform, and that seems to be a win-win. It does seem to be where the on-premises stuff is going these days. What's your take?
The trick is in being able to get better quality of service, maintain good visibility into costs, predict problems before they happen and then, ultimately, lower operations cost. That’s easier said than done, but that’s the goal. I agree with you that there is a significant move toward a public cloud solution, but that journey will take a while.
Over time, we'll likely see companies start to move towards IT as a service and consuming these services from wherever they exist. What is needed on-premises is just the ability to get to those services, those applications, and those workloads in a secure and reasonable way. You’re still going to need management capability that allows you to govern across the board, wherever these may be – whether in public clouds, or in edge clouds, or whether they're in your own data center. But it still allows everything to be managed like one cloud.
Switching to the public cloud part of Azure, what are a couple of things that you’ve seen over the last year that were potential game changers?
There are some particularly interesting developments around analytics and IoT, and how that relates to data. Just the way Microsoft handles data and analytics and IoT is worth understanding, in addition to the ties to industry-specific applications. I think the way they tied together web and mobile is also thought-provoking. Some products and services, such as HoloLens, have got some integrated hardware where you can create workers of the future with field services that may also be interesting and go beyond the basics of infrastructure and PaaS services, extending into real innovation.
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