From Groundhog Day to the post-infrastructure era: how Accenture helps validate AWS | #GuestOfTheWeek


Surpassing 30,000 attendees, this year’s re:Invent conference is indicative of the enterprise mandate to move to the cloud and the promise of Amazon Web Services role with the digital transformation. Organizations are slowly beginning to move some workloads off-premises and into the cloud, yet migration remains a complex task for those interested in AWS products.

Revered by developers and the “self-start IT” crowd, AWS is much more complicated for the average enterprise IT department. One solution for simplification is the Accenture AWS Business Group. Born from a 10-year partnership between the two companies, the group is jump-starting this journey by offering AWS as a Service, enabling change and accelerating agility for IT organizations.

Throughout the week, theCUBE, from the SiliconANGLE Media team, spoke with industry leaders at re:Invent who confirmed that AWS is in a position to infiltrate the enterprise and lead the way for digital transformation to the cloud. (*Disclosure below.) One notable interview for John Furrier (@furrier), and Jeff Frick (@JeffFrick), co-hosts of theCUBE, was with Michael Liebow, global managing director for Cloud Platform at Accenture plc.

This week theCUBE features Michael Liebow as our Guest of the Week.

With a background in digital technology, managing enterprise services for notable companies such as IBM, working with venture capitalists to fund entrepreneurs in the technology space, and founding his own enterprise technology companies, Liebow has a broad perspective on the market. Most recently, he was part of the Franklin Fellows Program, where he collaborated with Department of State to offer his commercial knowledge to the government in areas of global importance.

Liebow is now part of the Accenture AWS Business Group that supports companies transitioning to the cloud and helps them reap the benefits of the “as-a-service” model. Accenture began its partnership with AWS in October 2015, indicating the company’s confidence in the public cloud. And that confidence has quickly paid off, as Liebow said they’re growing rapidly, validating the enterprise’s move to public cloud. In fact, re:Invent attendance grew from 19,000 to 32,000 in a single year.

A 10-year Day One

The journey for AWS to become enterprise-ready has taken 10 years, and Accenture has been with them from the beginning. At what point did AWS go from a place where developers and startup companies built businesses in the cloud to an enterprise-class platform? Liebow considered it a long evolution and remarked that AWS still refers to “Day One,” the philosophy of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos that the internet is only in the first chapter of its history.

“What we are talking about is this evolution over the past 10 years or so to get to this point. … They still call it Day One. That’s shocking to me. This is like Groundhog Day; it’s the longest Day One in history,” Liebow said. However, the next step has seen rapid growth over the past year, he said.

In a recent Wikibon report, Chief Research Officer Peter Burris shared predictions for AWS, commenting that an overwhelming number of tech startups built on AWS have the technical savvy, but he considers the infrastructures of more mainstream businesses and their journey to the cloud: “AWS needs to maintain its simplicity roots if it’s going to attract less sophisticated enterprises to its cloud,” said Burris. He continued to say that Amazon needs to continue to simplify its business to attract these mainstream organizations.

Liebow believes that the Accenture/AWS partnership was the tipping point for making this happen. The joint investment in taking their combined efforts to market is paying off. “Now as a direct result of that, they [AWS] benefit specifically from that capability that has been off the charts successful as a combined entity to go after this market and help large enterprises make that move,” he remarked.

The economics of cloud

Innovation is the key to success for most businesses, and Accenture’s clients want to take advantage of the latest AWS technologies. Accenture has the experience and the support of more than 400 AWS certified technologists, and the number is growing to support enterprise demand.

Many companies running legacy systems are weighing the benefits of what they see as renting versus owning. Liebow called this a big misnomer, as switching from a capex model to an opex model involves so much more. For Accenture, bringing customers to the cloud requires changing the whole operational model.

Leveraging the cloud economic model for most businesses also includes reducing the assets in the datacenter and changing employee skillsets. “If you don’t move from one mode to the next aggressively, you don’t get the economic benefits of operating in the cloud,” Liebow rationalized.

Going rogue to unleash the innovation

Among Burris’ predictions for 2017 is the rapid maturity of  the new cloud development stack centering on containers and APIs, hindered only by institutional habits. Liebow echoed this by pointing out that one of the largest problems for IT organizations within the enterprise is shadow IT and greenfield applications. Developers are taking advantage of the cloud to innovate. However, IT compliance tends to block this creativity due to security and service levels, he said.

Hybrid cloud seems to be the way most companies are going. According to Liebow, most companies are running bimodally to get to the cloud. Accenture’s own organization has 60 percent of its workload in the cloud, and Liebow anticipates that number to rise to 90 percent over the next two years. “We are proving to ourselves that it works, that it’s fundamental to a business,” he asserted.

Liebow closed by making his own prediction. “Over the next 10 years, you’re going to see a wholesale shift in the market. I think we are going to something like the post-infrastructure era.”

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE and theCUBE’s coverage of AWS re:Invent. (*Disclosure: AWS and other companies sponsor some AWS re:Invent segments on SiliconANGLE Media’s theCUBE. Neither AWS nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo by SiliconANGLE