Company Announcement, Interviews

This week, Jason McDonald joins as President of Contino, responsible for leading and expanding the US region. So we sat down with him to get his thoughts on his path to Contino, the importance of the cloud and DevOps in the enterprise, the current state of the market and why customer-centricity is such a winning strategy. 

Hi Jason, nice to meet you! Why don’t you tell us a bit about your background?

Sure! I started out studying engineering before moving into finance. I was an international equity trader and I spent a good amount of time creating arbitrage strategies, which taught me a lot about capital markets and left me with an affinity for FS that I have carried with me wherever I have worked since. But I knew I didn’t want to be in that world for my entire career.

So I then made a move to a series of System Integrators – EDS, HP, CSC and so on – and enjoyed a 15 year stint building data centers and managing enterprise-scale application deployments.

The next change was to study for an MBA at Babson College before founding my own IT consultancy developing private clouds for large enterprises.

Most recently, I have been running a Professional Services Practice at Amazon Web Services in the US for around four years. At the same time, I was the Executive Sponsor for AWS’ worldwide financial services specialty practice. Whilst at AWS, I was the co-author of the first ‘Doctrine Framework’, which is the framework that AWS use to demystify cloud adoption and to transform large enterprises to the cloud and DevOps. It’s their primary go-to-market tool to drive adoption in large enterprises.

So, I’ve seen the full IT life cycle: from starting out as thoughts and ideas and building out applications and architecture and infrastructure to production environments – and that experience has led me to where I am today.

What attracted you to cloud and DevOps?

I think that cloud computing is truly transformational. It really will be the new normal for the next generation of IT and for a number of very good reasons: you don’t need to go through CapEx to buy equipment - instead you’re up and running in minutes - and its decentralized, cattle-versus-pets nature means that it lends itself perfectly to the next frontier of IT sophistication: automation.

As for DevOps, I think it’s still quite ambiguous as it’s early in its adoption but its principles are clearly very synergistic with the cloud.

Together, DevOps ways of working and the public cloud represent two sides a fundamental change in how enterprises are using their IT.

And why are you choosing to pursue cloud and DevOps at Contino?

I was really excited when I heard what Contino is doing: specifically helping large, highly-regulated enterprises to leverage the public cloud as a mechanism to actually accelerate into a DevOps operating model.

I joined Contino from AWS because I was hugely impressed with the adoption framework and methodology that they have developed as well as the strength of guidance that their experience has allowed them to achieve. And the opportunity is huge: there’s a tremendous amount of white space in this market – we’re still at the beginning of the adoption curve and once it gets rolling every single enterprise is going to need help adopting DevOps in the cloud.

Contino’s hyper-focus on highly-regulated enterprises and systemically important financial institutions (SIFIs) I think is a very smart move. It means that we’re not distracted, like many other companies, by trying to do too many other things. This focus, combined with the available white space and the urgent need means that the upside of growth seems to be practically limitless.

Do you think more competition will arise as the size of the opportunity becomes clearer?

In today’s market there is actually very little competition at the scale that we’re operating on. There are a few small, boutique consultancies but they’re quite geographically specialized: operating just on the East Coast, for example, or even just in New York. You don’t see Contino’s level of strategic capability at a global scale.

That said, competition will definitely increase. I suggest that what we will see is global System Integrators pivoting into this space more and more, because that’s what their customers will be asking them to do – so there will be tremendous competition in this space in future, without doubt. But because we’re small and nimble today we can certainly position ourselves very well now and wedge ourselves into a fantastic spot.

I think this time is so exciting because the stakes are so high! The market is ripe for DevOps specifically because if enterprises don’t fundamentally improve the processes by which they innovate they will essentially be annihilated. They’ll be disrupted by the FinTechs of the world – those who own their ability to innovate at speed and scale.

Any final thoughts?

At AWS, I learned a lot about the importance of a customer-centric mindset. And that’s what I bring with me: I want a customer-obsessed view to be our differentiator. DevOps is not the same in every company, each one is unique. And DevOps is an almost ‘tribal’ thing that gets developed in unique ways over time in each company. I want to work with what our customers have today to reinvent them for tomorrow.

In a way, that’s the mistake that enterprises are making by not adopting DevOps and the cloud: they’re not obsessing over their customers. They’re not worrying about what they want. Those customers can steer your ship for you if you listen to them!

And when those enterprises are ready to turn the dial on innovation and need a strategic partner to help them do that, we’ll be ready for them! We operate globally and are just an email away.