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All Things Azure with Dwayne Monroe

All Things Azure with Dwayne Monroe

Update: 2020-06-30


About Dwayne Monroe

I've been a technologist, in some form, for most of my conscious life (starting with a Sinclair kit computer). I work as a cloud architect, focused on Azure and spend a lot of time thinking and writing about that (particularly controlling spend). Besides that, I enjoy a good Bordeaux or martini, travel and my life as a transplant to Amsterdam.

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Corey: Welcome to Screaming in the Cloud. I'm Corey Quinn. I'm joined this week by Dwayne Monroe, Senior Cloud Architect at Cloudreach. Dwayne, welcome to the show.

Dwayne: Thank you, Corey.

Corey: So, you come from a world that I don't understand in the least. I'm not talking about Amsterdam, which is where you apparently live, but rather that you're a cloud architect who's focused on Azure. I tend to operate in a world where I deal with obviously a lot of AWS, I do see some GCP from time to time, in similar environments, but while I do have customers that are doing significant spend with Azure, I never encounter it in the course of what I do with them. So, what I brought you here to ask you about is, you don't work for Microsoft. To my understanding, you've never worked at Microsoft.

Dwayne: That's right. Yeah.

Corey: And what I want to know is, tell me about Azure customers, please. As someone who does not have a particular horse in the race that depends upon you selling Azure to answer the question.

Dwayne: To answer the question, I think, let me tell you a little bit about my own, to use the term of art now, cloud journey; forgive the phrase. I started my career, as many of us of a certain age did with general geekery. And then when I graduated from university—in which you have computer labs, and all that kind of stuff—I was floundering for a job, and I was working at a boutique bank in Philadelphia. And that bank found itself facing some challenges from the FDIC. That led to me becoming—because I was the youngest person there and the person who seemed to have a handle on client/server technology, that led to me becoming the person who deployed the first network. 

Kind of fast forward a bit. I'm working in enterprise-scale data centers, like pharmaceutical firms, and this sort of thing, and at one of these particular situations, I was introduced to AWS because there was a problem that the organization had, which was scalability. We were selling books, and every season, the type of book that was being sold, the VMware infrastructure that we were using would be stretched to their limits. A very smart colleague said, “Hey, how about EC2 instances, Elastic Beanstalk?” I’m like, “Well, what the hell are you talking about?” So, I dove into that. So, I began my cloud journey with Amazon, as I think many people did—

Corey: For a while, they were the only option. I mean, you wouldn't call it Cloud if you spent a long time working on, I don't know, VPSs offered by some fly-by-night web hosting company. That, it would sort of look like cloud today, but we never called it that back then.

Dwayne: That's exactly right. And Microsoft at the time under, I think it was still Mr. Ballmer, Azure was just Windows Virtual Machines, but it was very weak. So, I didn't pay attention to what Microsoft was doing in that space because what Microsoft was doing wasn't compelling. Fast forward a couple of years and leave out a couple of details, I'm working for a firm out of New York that had pivoted to Office 365, and one day—and this may make me sound like a genius or may make me sound like a goofball, I don't know—but one day, I was sort of poking around at the base of 365, I noticed that there was an Azure AD tenant. And I said, well, let me just log on to this Azure AD tenant, and voilà, there's all this going on. And I’d been so Amazon focused, and Microsoft up to that point—and this is going back four or five years—up to that point Azure had not been compelling, but it was becoming compelling. 

So, I pivoted to Azure because I'd already had kind of a deep commitment to Microsoft technology, to the Microsoft stack, and it seemed to be a logical progression for my career. To get to your question, and that's a long-winded way of getting to your question, the typical Azure customer, from my point of view, is an organization that has a deep commitment in Microsoft stack, and sees the need to modernize that stack into the Cloud, and Microsoft has provided a bridge. So, you have SQL Server on-premises, and you can modernize that SQL Server, you can do it on-premises. But then that SQL Server on-premises, the code has been put into SQL server to see assets in public cloud Azure. 

So, Microsoft's hybrid story, I think, is very well realized. And so the typical Azure customer, from what I've seen, are customers that say, “We have these investments in databases and so forth, storage that are Windows-based, built around the Microsoft stack, and we need to get out of the data center business; we need to get out of the infrastructure business. Let's move that stuff to the public cloud. And Microsoft has already built the code that allows us to do that, if not easily, at least you can see the direct path.” You can cross the Rainbow Bridge, and go from where you are within your messy data center to your cloud estate. It's very logical.

Corey: I have a standing policy of not insulting various customer choices, workflows, environments, etcetera, unless A) they are very clearly egregious or B) I'm trying to make a larger comic point. And I want to revisit that because there's absolutely nothing wrong with what you have just described. The whole Silicon Valley model is built upon more or less sneering condescendingly down your nose at anything that was written more than 18 months ago, but that is very clearly not how the world works. We are focused on building new, but everything that we're building on top of has been around for ages. And just because there's a new or different paradigm for developing these things, does not mean you get to sweep away the last 30 years of development work. So, there's a tremendous need for an awful lot of these workloads to

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All Things Azure with Dwayne Monroe

All Things Azure with Dwayne Monroe

Corey Quinn