Andrew Brydon Joins Contino APAC from Deloitte DevOps Practice
In July, Andrew Brydon joined Contino’s APAC team as Principal Consultant. Andrew moved to Contino from his role leading Deloitte’s DevOps Practice in the region and will be responsible for building up the Australian and Asian business alongside Director of Engineering, Dan Williams.
Dan sat down with him to discover a little bit about his background, why he’s made the move to a specialist DevOps consultancy and his view on the key challenges for enterprises in the APAC region who are looking to kickstart their innovation.
Hey Andrew, how’s it going? Could you tell us a little bit about your background and the path that has taken you to Contino?
Hi, no problem. I started out as a sysadmin in London, working in data centres building automated deployment systems for physical servers. My wife is from Australia which precipitated our move there in 2008, where I began to work for SEEK.com.au working on infrastructure engineering, architecture and deployments (including being on call at all hours!).
After a couple of years I found myself focusing more and more on virtualization and became a VMWare specialist for ANZ Bank, and when I joined Telstra I attained my VMware VCDX (#139 out of 250 globally).
I spent four years at Telstra where I was the end-to-end technology lead for the Telstra partnerships with AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM Softlayer (now Bluemix infrastructure) and Cisco Intercloud Services, as well as significantly expanding their SaaS and PaaS offerings. Telstra reduced expenditure on building their own cloud at this time to focus on these partnerships. One of my ground breaking projects was creating Telstra’s Cloud Gateway using SDN and NFV technologies to connect customers to the cloud by taking complex network interactions and driving them through an easy-to-use UI.
I think it's interesting to see software and DevOps practices now being applied to traditional infrastructure like networks, e.g. the NetOps movement, test-driven network development and network virtualisation etc. I am hoping to bring these ideas to new problem spaces.
In the wider marketplace, the years 2015 and 2016 saw cloud adoption beginning to pick up and it was around this time that I felt a change in the wind and took an opportunity to work as the DevOps practice lead in the Technology, Strategy and Architecture team at Deloitte. I first heard about Contino on social media, they were this global DevOps firm talking about all sorts of amazing work in heavily-regulated environments, from electronic trading environments, exchanges, new microservices initiatives in insurtech, and innovative uses of native cloud services. It really got my attention.
That was your most recent position - what were the reasons behind your move to Contino?
I made the move because of Contino’s experience in the market, I saw greater opportunity to be able to penetrate the Australian market, focusing on lighthouse project delivery and upskilling the customer’s teams. One of things that really appealed is working in a culture where people are all on the same page and the whole company is full of problem solvers, those who ‘do’, it’s a frictionless, engineering-focused culture. I’m looking to focus on helping organizations solve the hard problems that they aren't always confident to tackle alone.
DevOps - done well - goes far beyond just replacing technical legacy. It encompasses a genuine transformation of not only the technology, but organizational structure and processes and the enabling of key teams in new ways of working.
What’s the kind of work that you want to be doing?
I want to help customers rediscover how technology delivered with small teams can be truly transformative, completing DevOps projects in the cloud and be able to really help enterprises to regain control of their own innovation. For me it is all about helping the customer.
And to say the situation in Australia is an opportunity is an understatement...in the last 12-18 months I have met most of the senior decision-makers in large enterprises. All of them are looking to utilize the public cloud and new delivery methods to help accelerate their business. And whilst there are lots of companies who can help them to do that in one way or another, they all lack experience.
Contino have that experience from their many projects in the UK and the US and it will make a huge difference when they are able to bring bring that advantage to Australia, particularly in the large financial sector here. This will translate into a lot of really interesting projects!
What are the key struggles for the enterprise in the region?
It’s not the case that enterprises lack a cloud-first strategy or do not understand the benefits of cloud; they want to do it! They just don’t know how to do it, properly. They lack the killer execution. A recurring theme, for example, is challenges around applying their security standards in a cloud environment.
There is a lot of effort discussion in the tech space re trying to help transform these enterprises, but it’s a really complicated issue. And a lot of organizations are trying to adopt the cloud with the support of Global Systems Integrators and are finding it difficult. That’s because, fundamentally, these SIs are still learning how to operate in this space as well (they haven’t transformed themselves), so they fall back on their tried-and-tested bodies on site and ‘land and expand’ tactics. This has less to do with a lack of technical ability or understanding and more to do with their sales cycle: they want to go in and then do support work for years. And the ‘own-your-own-capability’, internally-empowering nature of DevOps and the cloud doesn’t quite sit right with that cycle. There are lots of smart people in our client organizations and we help empower these people as part of the work: a transformation is not about technology or shiny tools, it's about a cultural revolution and baking critical thinking/systems thinking into organizations. Education through doing is our vehicle.
And with the arrival of Amazon, for example, and increasing regulation...the pressure is on for enterprises?
All these companies are under pressure to cut costs. The challenge they have is doing this successfully with obsolete and legacy toolsets. And, in the last 12 months, a lot of people have realized that they need to work in a fundamentally different way in order to stay relevant.
Australia is an interesting market. It’s the most virtualized country in the world but it only now stands on the verge of a huge move to the cloud. But, as I mentioned, there seems to be a lack of awareness around execution. You can’t just lift and shift a bunch of applications - there’s not much to be gained there. The benefit comes from using the cloud to change how applications and services are delivered to really make organizations as agile as possible.
Simultaneously I see companies increasingly wanting to go it alone. They realise the need to insource their intellectual property, to recreate in-house capability. They don’t want to have to hand their business-critical applications and infrastructure over to a consultancy. Owning their own capacity to innovate is swiftly becoming the key differentiator.
Where do you see Contino in APAC in 12 months time?
I would love to see us having delivered a number of successful projects with an expanding team across Melbourne and Sydney and really be looking to make our mark driving customer success locally whilst contributing to the DevOps, cloud, container community.
It’s going to be exciting!