Oils ain’t Oils and Neither are Calculators.

Some of you may remember the Castrol oil commercials on Australian television throughout the late 1980’s where they claimed than not all oils are created equally.  – If not indulge yourself in 43 seconds of nostalgic cinematic genius.

1988 CASTROL GTX2 Oils Ain’t Oils

Such is true with cloud pricing calculators. Whilst these are invaluable tools for putting together an order of magnitude estimate on a bill of materials, they do little to attract, engage and delight customers.

One of the main differences between a pricing estimate output from regular vendor calculators and a cloudstep model is that with a cloudstep model, all focus is placed on the consumer’s business and the cloudstep consulting partners’ unique relationship with them.

Why is cloudstep more than just a calculator?

  • Cloudstep models are multidimensional and provide a mechanism to accurately account for all the costs that represent the true total cost of ownership.
  • More than a spreadsheet – build 5 year forward projections for business as usual vs migration scenarios.
  • Cloudstep models on-premisses, IaaS, SaaS and PaaS solutions.
  • Model, manage and track phased migrations which involve multiple waves or batches of application migrations.
  • Measure actual vs projected expenditure, ingest Azure bills to identify and manage variances.

A pathway to mutually beneficial consulting engagements.

Cloudstep was built from the ground up by cloud consultants, that understand the need for consulting firms to build strong strategic relationships with their customers.

Cloudstep models unlock opportunity within businesses by building trust and credibility, thus leading to significant momentum gained with consumers. Cloudstep  is about adding value at every stage in your customer’s journey with you,  from the initial awareness or interest in alternate IT arrangements all the way through post-migration and ongoing measurement of IT operational expenditure.

Granularity and Complexity

Whilst it is true that high degrees of granularity often result in complexity, cloudstep has tooling to get started in as little as 10 minutes, designed to help consulting firms quickly engage with their customers business and begin to foster stronger relationships.

Cloudstep provides a means to have more meaningful conversations with prospects, creating genuine relationships with them. Quickly share relevant content that can be refined and built upon as you get to know your consumers’ unique needs.

Plan, Transition, Manage

Continue to engage with consumers, even long after their journey to the cloud.

Successful IT leaders understand If you don’t measure success in terms of what’s truly important to your organisation, you can’t work towards getting there.

Cloudstep makes it easy to measure actual vs projected expenditure, providing a means for your consulting team to continue to engage and offer strategic advice and services.

Cloudstep creates happy customers who turn into brand ambassadors and send more customers your way.


cloudstep – The value proposition for consulting firms.

Cloudstep is a tool for consulting firms, built by a consulting firm. It makes it easy to capture existing capital and operational IT expenditure for an organisation and make accurate comparisons against alternate IT delivery options.

We built cloudstep to make it easy to sell consulting engagements for professional services focused around cloud migrations.

Build 5 year forward projections for business as usual vs cloud migration scenarios based on evidence and hard costs, not speculation.

We understand the need for consulting firms to build strong strategic relationships with their customers.

Position your consulting firm as a trusted advisor with outputs that are easy to share, confidence inspiring and make it easy for CFOs and CIOs to stand behind.

Cloudstep models unlock opportunity within businesses by building trust and credibility. Cloudstep is about adding value at every stage in your customer’s journey with you, from the initial awareness or interest in alternate IT arrangements all the way through post-migration and ongoing measurement of IT operational expenditure.

Cloudstep creates happy customers who turn into brand ambassadors and send more customers your way.


Welcome 2020ne – “are we there yet?”

“are we there yet?…. are we there yet?….”

In vacations past, this was the back seat cry heard by many young parents as they sought the refuge of a far-away campsite or holiday house in search of some peace and quiet after a hectic and busy year.  Clearly, 2020 was no normal year and it takes the prize for giving us the single biggest reality check for generations.  Our near and mid-term futures whilst cautiously optimistic are still shrouded in a degree of uncertainty and we should still expect some unsettling times.  When will be able to say we have arrived at our destination, the end of COVID, and no longer be faced with the lingering “are we there yet?” back seat cry?

For many we invested in keeping as much of our operations as normal as we possibly could – we saw immediate investment in better working from home solutions and in expanded video-conferencing and collaboration tools and techniques, but not every business was well suited to implementing these new practices. In some cases, we had great foundations to build from, in others it just needed to be done. But at what cost and has it truly delivered what is needed?

For many, new programs of work were put on hold or cancelled altogether.  Top line revenue pressures forced many to introduce drastic cuts in operational expenditure, tough decisions were made. When thinking about 2021 and beyond we should continue to expect that there will be less, little or no new money for projects – and savings will need to be found to pay for reforms”

What programs of work did you put back on the shelf because there was no resources or there was no longer any money in 2021? 

Do you know how much an application truly costs and how much cost can be attributed to a “function” or “team” within your business?

Do you fully understand the cost and resource impact of change and will your CFO believe you?

Do you have the detailed financial awareness of different deployment options (on-premise, cloud, IaaS, PaaS or SaaS.

Are you giving consideration to where the next level of IT investment should be made – and when?

Do you need to rebuild the business case and demonstrate benefit and cost with confidence?

Do you know when you will arrive at your chosen destination – …are we there yet?

We were tackling these questions with cloudstep before our worlds were completely up-ended –  and it seems to me the answers that cloudstep can provide are more important to a business than ever before.

cloudstep helps CxO’s understand the financial impact of past, current and future IT investment decisions. It helps you compare different deployment scenarios and provides a month by month cashflow model of your total cost of reform and ownership.

To be fair – its not always about cloud – its about being better informed of the financial impact of future choice.

If you are reimagining your IT plans in 2021 and need to demonstrate value in change – not just the tech speak – then ask us or your IT partner about cloudstep.  Are we there yet?

daryl knight | partner at cloudstep


The Cloud – Anagnorisis and Peripeteia

In my work here at Cloudstep we have two distinct sides to our business, a consulting practice “Jtwo Solutions” and a cloud modelling software and services practice “Cloudstep”. Working on both sides of these businesses affords me the benefit of hands on consulting, technical architecture and implementation as well as scenario based cost modelling activities with a wide range of government and commercial customers.

Recently, I’ve been reflecting on what it is that makes me happy about working with customers within these businesses.  I decided to set my self the challenge of coming up with just two words that could be used to articulate this in a concise form.

After reflecting on this for some time, two words come to mind, “Anagnorisis and Peripeteia”. After sleeping on it for a few days, these words seem to have stuck.

So what the hell is Anagnorisis and Peripeteia. . . ? In short, Aristotle made these words famous (for me anyway).

Aristotle

Anagnorisis:  the transition or change from ignorance to knowledge.

Peripeteia: a sudden or unexpected reversal of circumstances or situation.

When considering the meaning of these two words, I think they elegantly describe the two way street that is IT consulting and cost modelling. I’ve always enjoyed the excitement of the changing IT landscape, ever evolving, disruptive yet inspiring and endlessly yielding of new opportunities.

Opportunity is what business thrives on, competitive advantage can be found here. Businesses that capitalise on the right new knowledge / technology win. The trouble is, that new is only short lived and you have to stay ahead of the curve. In the fast paced, evolving IT space, anagnorisis is something you are constantly chasing.  

I repeatedly find myself in the position of educator and student, both assisting clients with the relentless learning and learning myself. This is delightful, challenging and terrifying all at the same time, but it’s what makes IT interesting and enjoyable for me.

This brings me to the second word. . . peripeteia.  Cloudstep provides customers with a multi-dimensional view of the cost of delivery of application workloads. We do this by modelling, teams of people, the functions they carry out, the applications they use, the infrastructure the applications live on and the underlying hosting costs of the infrastructure (servers, storage, networks, data centres).

With this data we can accurately articulate the true cost of a specific workload and conduct fair comparison with alternative delivery models like software as a service or a public cloud implementation.

Anagnorisis happens here too, but what is really beautiful is the peripeteia that this knowledge can enable. Cloudstep helps provide businesses with clarity and can enable them to see the most cost effective path forward. For me, I find happiness is the situation where a business can shift their focus from any undifferentiated workloads and shift the focus of their IT resources towards workloads that are specific to their core business, directing efforts towards innovation in their own space.

The future in IT that, I imagine, is one where we don’t have to spend as much time on undifferentiated workloads rather, one where we have more time to thrive on the new opportunities that are yet to come.


A career with a flammable CV

Planned Obsolescence

A baked in part of the design of technology products and an unavoidable side-effect of a career in IT

In a discussion with a colleague recently we reflected on how our careers and our CVs race ahead while the invisible fuse line of obsolescence comes along from behind and renders cherished skillsets and competencies burn away.  We have intimate knowledge of technologies nobody cares about anymore.  We were deeply familiar with products from companies now confined to a fringe article on Wikipedia.  We have programming languages on our CVs we’ll never use again, in fact when they are mentioned in a meeting we resist the urge to admit any knowledge.  The bullet points of our CVs settle over time into a thing we just call “experience”.    The fact that we have to reinvent ourselves every 5 years is exhausting but also exhilarating.  In some areas of IT that cycle is down to 12 or 18 months (Scriptaculous and Prototype, really?  All the cool kids use React, jQuery and Bootstrap now).

Few industries suffer from this planned obsolescence like IT.  Other professions are made redundant by change.  Ours has the redundancy built right in.  Through the decades, we have several careers in one.

There are two ways we can deal with this reality and only one that offers a clear path forward.

Option 1: Build a Moat (bad)

We can hunker down with our CV and resist change.  This is comfortable for a while, we end up being that heroic guru that saves the day every time.  The march of progress continues though and while we can fight change, it eventually overwhelms us.  What made us special, essential even is all of a sudden not needed anymore.  The reaction to this to build a moat around our technology or skillset.  We white-ant suggestions of anything new and act to engineer a climate of fear of change.  It’s not that the technology we work on is wrong, flawed or not in use anymore.  its just that improvements, efficiencies and lower costs can no longer be ignored.  The cost and risk of change is eventually outweighed by the benefits that can be realised.  The moat strategy comes unstuck.  This is often coupled with an unfortunate correlation between the point when you believe you are indispensable and the day you get your pink slip.  You end up being the COBOL programmer you used to consider a dinosaur.

Option 2: Be Willing to Experiment (good)

Another way of relentless change is to make it part of our career.  We should focus on the problem at hand, not the tool we use to solve it.  When we become involved and invested in a particular technology it often becomes the focus and we forget why we use it in the first place.  Load balancers and highly available database services with big arrays of web servers in the middle are great but their purpose is to deliver a website to people so they can go about their business more effectively.  It doesn’t mean that the technology and toolset isn’t important, but it is inescapable that they are a means to an end and no more.  We need to be prepared to throw away what we know and embrace something new if it’s a better solution to our problem.  If we look at what we do this way, the business will inevitably respect us for being part of the solution, not a roadblock.  None of this means that you throw everything out when something new comes along.  There is still the rule of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.  There’s a balance between keeping what works and being open to what’s new.

Observing this in the wild

Many of us in IT are consultants though.  We work in a wide range of organisations from large public companies and government agencies through to non-profits and medium sized businesses.  This broad experience across different industries with different cultures is challenging and fascinating but never dull.  What sticks out is the similarities.  We see Moat Builders and Experimenters everywhere.  In our practice we talk a lot about public cloud services in relation to traditional on-premises solutions.  This quickly flushes out the moat builders and the experimenters.  We look around meeting tables and pick who’s who based on the body language.  Crossed arms and leaning back are a good indicator.  But there are some who are open, that lean in and have open arms.  They engage with the conversation and want to learn.

In advocating for new technologies and practices it is part of our role to persuade people that this don’t represent a threat but an opportunity.  We should encourage people to try new things, to return to being out of their depths for a while in order to progress.  Ultimately the effort is well worth it.

How do we make Moat Builders into Experimenters

People’s livelihood, self respect and satisfaction comes from being useful, making a difference and feeling like they contribute to something.  There is a lot at stake so people need to feel comfortable and they need to be motivated.

  • Sell the change.  People need to buy in and for that to happen they need to be sold on the idea.  Explain to them why this new way of doing this is better than before.
  • Appeal to laziness.  Explain how it is easier than before to do the same thing.  Be careful though not to scare them into thinking that their job will be factored out.
  • Don’t call their baby ugly.  People’s skills and experience are hard won and their accomplishments should be respected.  Don’t belittle how its done now, explain how it could be better.
  • Keep going until they start convincing you.  What you’re looking for is people to start echoing back the value of what you’re telling them.  You want them to agree with you and be an advocate.

This has all happened before

Looking outside of IT we see many example of skills, professions and whole industries disappearing into history.  The industrial revolution changed the nature of work and mechanised manufacturing altered what it meant to be a craftsman.  At each point, people were freed from mundane, unfulfilling and often dangerous work.  Upheaval of this nature has consequences for individuals but society and civilisation moved on.  Whaling is no longer a sought after skill and neither is understanding X25 protocol communications.

Don’t be frightened of a changing CV, just be prepared to be up for the challenge of reinventing yourself over and over again.