Zachary Hinkle takes us through his personal journey to the cloud and offers some advice, telling us what we can learn from his voyage.
I’m in the cloud, lots of them!
Each day I communicate with colleagues around the world via chat and video on PureCloud by Genesys.
We share files, our desktops and ideas via this tool as naturally as sitting next to one another. When I am not working, I pop onto other clouds to check various social media sources for the latest from my friends, news and technology trends. My professional roles have taken me around the world several times, so, yeah, I even touch those clouds too. Like just about everyone else today, I’m practically plugged into the cloud!
My journey here started with a decision to get a graduate degree in networking and communications within 12 months in the late 90s. It was an exciting and terrifying decision having just wrapped up an undergraduate degree in business management. I was assured by the professors of the programme that no prior technical experience was required.
During the opening class of my first core technical course, the professor informed us statistically how many people were going to fail the first test. I looked right, then left and thought, “Yeah, it’ll probably be me.” I didn’t fall asleep that night till 4 am, terrified I would flunk out. The journey to the cloud was off to a rough start! Little did I know it at the time, but I was learning how to deal with change and becoming efficient at it.
Lesson 1: Get GOOD at learning!
After graduation, I went to work for a telecommunications company only months before the dotcom recession hit in full swing.
Due to the economic turbulence, I held various positions in the telecommunications industry over the course of six years. I learned to operate high-speed optical equipment, engineer building power requirements, deploy Point of Presences (POPs) and work on digital cross-connect systems. I also learned first-hand how a phone jack in a home connected to the internet.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I was definitely a cloud engineer.
Lesson 2: Take advantage of every learning opportunity
Even if everything you learn gets replaced, taking advantage of every learning opportunity can always be beneficial. Staying sharp, agile and learning new things is always a good thing.
In 2006, I made the jump to Genesys (formerly Interactive Intelligence). Switching to the software industry felt like jumping into the fast lane of change in technology.
In the software industry, we create stuff called features. That’s why we call the people who code features ‘developers’ not programmers. When developing new features, ideas are evaluated based on criteria like ‘the right way’, ‘a hack’ or the ‘efficient way’ of doing something. Software geeks love to solve problems and argue along the way!
Lesson 3: Be ready to justify your thoughts and positions at all times
In 2011, I took a position as a solutions manager in our PureConnect division. I was tasked with taking on-premises software and turning it into a cloud service. A cloud service consists of the following:
First: Business solution – a collection of features
Second: Service deliverables – usage-based pricing, service level agreement (SLA), uptime guarantee
Third: Delivery mechanism – cloud delivery
Requirements: highly availability, business continuity, disaster recovery, data security, operational excellence
As a mature software company, our product already offered a great business solution, but turning it into a cloud solution was the challenge. Through bumps and bruises, we learned that consistency, process and well-defined solutions prosper in the cloud.
Lesson 4: Custom solutions don’t scale, configuration solutions do
Focus on building repeatable solutions to make the cloud really work!
This past year I took on a new challenge with our PureCloud division that I feel uniquely qualified to perform.
My role is to oversee the development of new capabilities enhancing the PureCloud platform for our Partner community. The term ‘platform’ used to be defined as the underlying components running software applications.
In today’s cloud-based world, platforms are considered to be anything you can build upon that allow for the creation of features and services not originally envisioned at the time of initial design.
My objective is to provide features for Partners that allow them to acquire, on-board and create value-add applications for customers in a frictionless manner.
For maximum benefit, we implement new features within our public API first. Development in this manner creates opportunities for our Partner community to implement these capabilities within their existing tools in ways we can predict (e.g. allowing Partners to add our product catalogue to their ordering system), and others we can’t.
The next step is user interface development to implement these features for normal day-to-day use.
The success of our efforts will be measured by elimination of friction points between our Partner community and the customers they provide value-add services.
The end result we’re looking to achieve is known as ‘The Network Effect’. The network effect is a phenomenon whereby a good or service becomes more valuable when more people use it. By focusing in tools and features for everyone, the network effect becomes possible!
Lesson 5: The cloud brings creative ideas into reality
The cloud is all about providing features and tools that allow creative ideas to be easily and quickly brought to reality.
The best way to understand Lesson 5 is to use a platform that was truly built on the promise of the cloud to deliver unlimited scale, unmatched resiliency, broad functionality and rapid continuous innovation, like PureCloud.
With thanks to Zach Hinkle, Solutions Program Manager in the Product Management organisation in PureCloud. He is a 10-year veteran with Genesys Interactive Intelligence.
For more information about PureCloud by Genesys, visit www.mypurecloud.com