Caylent's AWS Summit Insights on theCUBE


Caylent's Stephen Garden & Valerie Henderson were featured on SiliconANGLE's theCUBE to discuss the modern state of the cloud and how Caylent fits into our customer's initiatives of transforming their businesses on AWS

Stephen Garden & Valerie Henderson | AWS Summit New York 2022

Lisa Martin (LM):  Hey, everyone, welcome back to New York City. Lisa Martin and John Ferry here with theCUBE covering AWS Summit NYC. This is a series of summits this year, just about 15 of them globally. We are excited to be here with a couple of guests. We've got alumni back with us! A couple of guests from Caylent - Stephen Garden, the Executive Chairman and Valerie Henderson, Chief Revenue Officer. 

Guys, welcome to the program. Great to have you. Welcome back. Talk to us about Caylent. What do you guys do? What do you deliver? How are you affiliated with AWS? 

Stephen Garden (SG): Sure. So we were founded in 2015, initially as a container management product. So our roots are very deeply centered around Cloud-Native. We've since evolved and become a Cloud Native consultancy. We're all-in with AWS. We were actually just awarded AWS Premier Partner a couple of weeks ago, and we're pretty pumped about that. But we're about 250 people now across North and South America, and our goal is really to work with customers that are looking to innovate and evolve and use AWS as a catalyst to build new products for their business.

LM: As a “catalyst”, I like that. Valerie, talk about the customer. Obviously so much tumult in the last couple of years. We’re still going through it. How have customer conversations evolved and changed in the last couple of years from your perspective? 

Valerie Henderson (VH): Yeah, I think from my perspective, it is such a unique time and it's a time that is constantly changing. And I think change breeds opportunity and I feel like customers see that and they're leaning in. They want the opportunity to create new revenue streams, do more, more efficiently. And I think that's the key. And the questions they are really asking are how can we take our data and turn it into something that we can monetize? How can we be smarter with what we have? 

I think it's an incredible time to be in the space that we're in. Every conversation I have is really forward thinking and about the business. I've been in this space for a while and that was not always the case. And I think now people are shifting from being an "IT shop" to an "IP shop" and that's so key from my perspective.

LM: Interesting. Interesting shift there. Every company has to be a data company these days to be competitive. You know, the last couple of years, it was how do we survive? Pivot, pivot, pivot, pivot. But to be a data company means you have to be able to extract value and insights from that data and act on it. To your point, develop new products, new revenue streams, new opportunities.

How do you enable companies; and maybe this is the question that you can both answer; to truly become data companies. 

VH: Our whole model from a services perspective is not a do for model, it is a do with model. And any time we go into an engagement with a customer, we ask, where are they on the curve from monolith application to micro services?

Where do they sit today? And I think when you dig in & you assess, you deeply understand where they are. You can get them to where they want to be and build a plan. And the way our model works is we're doing it with them. And what that means is we're enabling them with documentation, we're supporting them in such a way that if we're not there, they're going to be able to carry it forward and continue to do more.

SG: I think the other trend that we're seeing in data more recently is that the customers need to share their information with other partners & collaborate. AWS is just the perfect kind of platform to be able to do that, enable that sharing. And you're seeing even businesses like Snowflake build a data cloud on top of AWS.

So I think that's a new, new angle that we're seeing, which is really bringing together way more innovation. 

John Ferry (JF): What about that "data clean room" trend that's going on? Snowflake is doing a lot of that. But some of them have a little lock in spec there versus being open. Security, privacy, governance. What's the balance between open sharing and kind of the requirements you need to be secure and compliant?

SG: Yeah, I mean, I think very simplistically, the information that you're using to deliver your products and services to customers is generally safer, more public and available. The information that's confidential to your business behind the scenes, obviously, you use the right protocols to lock it out, but it is a very hot topic in today's world, especially with Web3 and people seeking to get their information back.

JF: So you mentioned you guys were around since 2015. If you go back in time, it seems like yesterday, but in cloud time, it's like two generations ago. Why is data now more relevant? Is it because the technology has gotten better and easier or more maturation of the clients’ understanding or being full with data, having a data problem and hence an opportunity?

Or is it that open source tools have evolved? Or all three? What's your reaction to that? Why is it exploding now when it's kind of been around for a while? 

SG: It keeps exponentially growing, right? There’s more and more data. There was a stat four or five years ago about how we're taking more photographs in a single year now than of all of mankind, you know, leading up to that date.

But, I think just the sheer quantities and the way people are managing it now; being able to actually capture information points of everything across their entire business; just presents a much bigger opportunity to be able to take informed decisions off the data.

JF: So do you see that you see the customers are having more data full problems? That they're having more data and there are consequences of not leveraging it?

VH: Yeah, absolutely. And I think you think about when you wake up in the morning, if you ask Alexa what the weather is, you're creating data. It happens in every engagement with the world. So I think it's this explosion of it. But then it exists, and what do you do now? 

I still think one of the biggest gaps is people, talent and expertise to do the work, frankly, which is the hypothesis of Caylent existing. 

JF: I think that data concept in the application, when you ask Alexa for the weather, it's a request, but the data is actually built into the app. "Data-as-code" is kind of a new trend.

VH: Yeah. And I think it's funny, there's more data points surrounding how to leverage your data. It's crazy. I think you're really seeing that. 

JF: It's like, “We have an old data warehouse, we can't get the weather data, although it's there somewhere.” But that's the difference. Getting the data in the applications. This wasn't around ten years ago. No one was talking like that. Now it's more standard. That sounds like a DevOps problem. 

SG: Yeah. Moving from the monolithic to the microservices world and just the way that people are building applications today, the users, their customers are demanding more from the service and AWS is able to deliver that.

JF: What is it that your customers are doing with you guys? Can you give some examples and scope of the scale of your relationship with customers vis-a-vis how they are using you guys and the cloud? 

VH: Yeah, for sure. A customer of ours, Allergan, which is an incredible organization, had a really large effort to modernize. They actually have a data lab within their company called Allergan Data Labs. They leveraged us to truly just modernize this containerization effort. How they can do more with less and that serverless experience. 

So I think from my perspective, what we're seeing is also a need to be thoughtful about DevOps retooling and tooling because talent wants to work with the best toolset, the hottest stuff on the street. And again, to keep talent is key in any organization's success. 

LM: How does Caylent help with that? From a talent perspective, obviously there's a talent shortage. We're also still in the “great resignation”. How do you help organizations kind of bridge the gaps so that they can glean insights from data and be competitive and win? 

VH: Yeah, we actually just published a case study with Novus, which was bought by SEI, which is a huge financial firm, where they said, listen, it's human nature to say, I have a gap and I need to fill it. And for that, I'm going to hire someone, right? 

That's human nature to say, okay, this is what we're going to do. But the reality is, I think companies are starting to see the advantage of using a partner and say, okay, I could hire one person or I could bring in a partner who's going to have a team of five workers incrementally for a period of time, who implements with us and helps coach my team up, in addition to documenting all of that. And I think that they're seeing value from that.

And ultimately it's not that we don't want them to eventually hire. When they do hire, we want that person to come in and have the best experience.

JF: And sometimes the people aren't even available, right? So you have a combination of managed services now, a plethora of managed services, that are also involved with the customer. So it's that, integration, scale, partnering and sharing.

You mentioned sharing data earlier. How do you guys view that integration piece? Because if you have a modern architecture, you've got to have that decomposed, decoupled, but integrated approach. 

SG: Yeah, we really believe that the whole world of project services and managed services is kind of coming together as one. So we have a single delivery model which we're really passionate about, and we look at it as kind of an embedded team within our customers. Embedded DevOps to support them, basically on anything that could be from modernizing a new application, to addressing a more traditional cloud architecture framework that's in place.

But yeah, the trick to it, as Val said earlier, is the “do-with” approach, not just “do-for” right? I think customers need to learn about the cloud. They need to understand the technology that they're using. They want to have that understanding. And we found a way of fitting in our services to help them sort of accelerate that.

JF: Valerie, I've got to ask you the question. So, you know, in sports, they talk about the modern era of baseball or whatever. We're in the modern era of cloud, going into the next generation. We call it “super cloud” - a concept that Dave and I put out at re:Invent. If someone asks you what the modern era looks like. As you look at your customer base and the data you guys have, how would you describe this modern era? What is it made up of? Is it outcome versus solutions? Is it technology that decentralizes? How do you talk about it? 

What is the modern era of cloud to you?

VH: Not to oversimplify it, but I'm going to. The idea that somebody could come into work and all they have to think about is business outcomes and the data points that they need to achieve said business outcomes.

I'm the biggest fan of “measure what matters”. I think it is an incredibly powerful methodology and I think anybody who thinks about running a business, they know that it's a scale. The amount of companies that are in that place is very small right now. So I think modern era is really transforming from an IT company to an IP company.

JF: So Steven, if you unpack that, what's under the covers to make that happen? What's your assessment of that outcome, which, by the way, was well said. Beautiful, beautiful comment. 

SG: Yeah I think it is around automation. It is around the, “do once and then apply many times” philosophy. That is key. Obviously, a fundamental principle of the cloud is consistency in that repeatability. So when you can simplify services down to a point-click-deploy, I think you're in a much better position to be able to move quickly and then not have to worry about anything under the hood and just focus, like Val said, on the business outcomes. 

VH: I find that what gives people energy generates opportunity. And I think when people hit those roadblocks - these things don't work together, there's all these interdependencies - It's really challenging. So I love what's happening. I think there's never been a better time to be in this business.

LM: Not a dull moment. That's not a dull moment when we talk about outcomes. You mentioned a couple of customers that you're working with for some case studies. It is all about outcomes these days. The conversations that we have with the entire ecosystem is all about business outcomes. What are some of those key transformative business outcomes that Caylent is helping customers to achieve?

VH: To me, one thing that is key is anytime I'm meeting with a customer, I want to understand who their customers are. I'm like "Who is your customer and how can we create a better experience for that customer, whether it's their end users or their external customers? And I think that is a huge element. What we're seeing is that SaaSification of how do I make it easier for my customers to procure and engage with my platform?

And a lot of what we're doing right now is helping clients with that. And it's not a flip of a switch, it's not a click of a button. It's complicated, but that is what we are here to help. To help simplify, and help create that understanding of what's possible. 

JF: How do you guys say to your customers? Take a minute to give a plug for the company?

What are you looking for? What's the status of your employees? Are you guys hiring and what's the pitch to customers? 

SG: Yeah, so I think every organization is on that journey to the cloud now. It's gotten to that point where if you're not working with a public cloud provider, you know, you're part of a very, very small group. We like to say that we meet customers where they are and help evolve them as a business, evolve their teams.

And that's what we mean when we say “do-with”. So it's a pretty broad spectrum. We're big in healthcare, we're big in fintech. We've worked with a lot of startup customers. We have about 250 customers today, 250+ employees, and we're scaling rapidly. We've grown from about 50 employees a year ago. 

JF: And why are people working with you? What are you guys solving? What's the pitch?

VH: Without a doubt. I love that - being in sales my whole career and somebody asking me for a pitch.Okay, let's go. The true value prop of what we do is all of the above. We enable, we help customers do more, faster. But again, we do not want customers to walk away from an engagement with us saying, "Oh, no, we don't know what to do". We want them to feel empowered. I still think the biggest gap from everything being in that IP business outcome, is people. And for us, we're so passionate about that.

Building a company that really, truly believes that and that's part of who we are as a company and our value system.

JF: And the digital transformation, ultimately, what your customers are going through. You get them there faster, they get the outcomes and they’re operational. 

VH: Absolutely. And also to be clear, when a customer has a great experience working with you, they want to tell other people about the experience. And for us, for the referrals that we get, the partnership with AWS is so key. 

JF: What are some reactions after you go through an engagement? We've been riffing on this concept of “super cloud”, where you're starting to see people not build directly on top of cloud platforms, but their partners that work with them. And so the customers are getting their own cloud experience at scale.

What are some of the comments you hear from your successful customers? What is some anecdotal feedback? 

VH: I think ultimately the consistent theme that we get is I'm so glad that I didn't let fear hold me back from engaging a partner because a lack of control scares a lot of customers. It does. And I think customers that are willing to say, okay, I'm going to have a little faith and trust in the process. They thank us. They do. And we've seen that across the board. I think that crossing that chasm is not to be underestimated. 

JF: You guys got a great story. Congratulations!

LM: There's nothing more powerful and potent than the voice of the customer, without a doubt.

VH: And really, you have to listen. 

LM: Steve and Valerie, thank you so much for joining me on the program today, talking about Caylent, what you guys are doing for customers with AWS - empowering, enabling, collaborating. I love it. Thank you. 

Valerie Henderson

Valerie Henderson

Dynamic and results-driven leader dedicated to driving revenue growth, fostering teams, and enhancing customer experience. With over a decade of experience in the technology channel, Val possess a deep enthusiasm for partnering with AWS, the market leader and innovator in cloud. Val’s leadership style emphasizes the importance of teamwork, vision, curiosity and driving outstanding results for customers. As a natural connector of people and ideas, Val seeks to aggregate content and facilitate seamless communication to drive focused execution and team performance. A lover of music, mostly the Grateful Dead, she believes life is truly a long and strange trip.

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