Rob Davies oversees areas such as cloud computing and professional services for ViON Corp. in his role as executive vice president of operations for the Herndon, Va.-based technology services contractor.
Davies first joined ViON in May 2014 as a vice president after three years at CA Technologies, which he transitioned to in 2011 through CA’s acquisition of Base Technologies, which he led for 16 years as CEO.
In this conversation with ExecutiveBiz, Davies offers his perspective on how ViON and other technology integration contractors collaborate with agencies to determine approaches for cloud adoption along with an outlook on acquisition trends this year.
ExecutiveBiz: How do you see partnerships between ViON and other cloud platform makers evolving?
Rob Davies: We see these partnerships expanding as original equipment manufacturers recognize the impact that cloud spending is having on the traditional resell business. We also expect to see an increase in customized private clouds with a consumption billing model that provides more flexibility, allowing operators to expand and contract usage based on need.
ViON mitigates the risk to customers by providing access to the technology in an as a service model, backed by an experienced team and field engineering resources that carry all the necessary technical certifications to support federal IT.
Partnerships are vital and an essential arrangement that enable industry to support the unique mission sets and meet the business requirements of the federal government. We certainly see OEM and cloud provider partnerships continuing to grow.
ExecutiveBiz: How do you see technology certifications in the workforce taking shape?
Rob Davies: Over the last 20 years, IT shops have run with a lot of structure and specialization on specific technologies. Sometimes organizations have a lot of experience, not just affiliation with a vendor, but real technical value invested in specific products. If that is the case, it's hard to throw that investment away and start to consume IT differently.
The cloud model makes organizations more sensitive to the brand of technology they want to deploy because they want to continue to get the value from their existing workforce. We need to evolve away from the expertise with specific technologies and go towards being well-versed in how an organization consumes their resources.
In the end it is a pretty simple relationship – there are many types of workloads in the federal government and an ideal platform for each one. Skill sets and certifications are going to continue to be important but in the end, operators must migrate their organizations more toward managing cloud consumption and different price models.
Vendor communities need to be good at understanding the trade-offs and value that different technologies provide to different workloads.
ExecutiveBiz: Where should industry help agencies figure out which direction to go in cloud adoption?
Rob Davies: To help agencies make the migration to cloud, industry needs to ask the right questions. We need to look at workloads and take into consideration variables like current platform, language, integration with other systems, databases, capacity, transactional volume, network use, to help put the right workload on the right platform or in the right cloud.
Sometimes it's pretty straightforward, moving from like VM to like VM. But much of the time agencies will have a mix of legacy, distributed, and current code applications that all integrate. That complicates it, but there are many technologies that help simplify that process. As well, there are many cloud models that give the agencies options and allow for phasing into the cloud without jeopardizing the mission or business.
Lastly, this can be accommodated under current contract structures. Cloud models allow innovate pricing and discount models, particularly when you look at the normal structure of federal contracts: three-, five- and seven-year periods of performance provide the time to realize value and get to an efficient cloud model.
We advise agencies to look at public cloud environments and take advantage of the value those providers offer because it may be the ideal way to efficiently modify a current application or bring a new system online. It makes sense for some federal agencies to have data and applications in the public cloud.
While, others will run an on- or off-premise private cloud environment to get the benefit of consumption models and vendor expertise but still own and manage the core workloads. The key is working with experts who can help you choose what path is best for your goals.
ExecutiveBiz: Which aspect of cloud acquisition will agencies increase attention on?
Rob Davies: We see more conversations around cloud acquisition models and we are grateful for that because the different buying paradigms can sometimes be an obstacle. Agencies typically have many long-standing acquisition professionals who specialize in IT that are very good at being an advocate in buying technology.
With this shift, we throw in a whole new model and try to help them understand how to buy it, units to consume it in, terms and conditions, potential minimums and other aspects. The important step is to have an open conversation or a workshop for procurement professionals to exchange ideas about cloud and how to buy it so that agencies can take advantage of all the options available to solve their IT modernization requirements.
We are continually looking to share our best practices for how organizations acquire and manage cloud. Likewise we're eager to learn others' approach to better our own. I think as a federal market we turned a corner in 2016 and now see more acquisition professionals open to the idea of cloud acquisition at the outset.
There weren't a lot of agencies on board with the as a service model back in 2002 and 2003 but the dynamic has shifted and we can come to the table with so many more options to meet budgets, timelines and resource objectives.