Towards the end of 2019, as our leadership team huddled together in Toronto to refresh our organisation’s strategy for the upcoming year, it was impossible to imagine the challenges 2020 would bring. Yet here we all are, together but separate. As we work our way through the turmoil and uncertainty that COVID-19 has wrought on the world, it would be remiss of me to let us lose sight of a cause for celebration – something we all need now, more than ever. This year marks Sourced’s 10th anniversary and I wanted to use the opportunity to reflect on our journey so far.
The Birth of Cloud
I feel privileged to have been hands on during the birth of the cloud computing industry and still marvel at the journey we have had. At the start of the last decade, public cloud was very much in its infancy but as we learned more, it became apparent just how impactful it would be. Having already witnessed an industry-shifting technology change with the advent of configuration management platforms which provided the opportunity for infrastructure to scale rapidly, it seemed the adoption of cloud was the logical next step.
At that time, just as today, our core team came from a financial services background – something I believe still differentiates us – so we were naturally intrigued to witness and be part of how the financial services industry would adopt this new technology, how the regulators would interact with it, and how the technical community would shape it. Little did we know that this would not only become our core vertical, but also our core focus: to work with the world’s most heavily regulated and security conscious organisations to adopt cloud at scale.
Most importantly, we were a few individuals bound by the belief that technology was more than a cost centre, and that, after a decade of outsourcing, it was possible to bring the craft back to our trade. This shared vision and the mutual respect soon became the inspiration for our company values.
From that team who met at Sydney’s small Red Oak pub (don’t all great companies start in a pub?) to discuss the art of the possible, we grew an organisation that now spans four countries, thanks to the collaboration with our truly differential partners, and of course, our amazing clients.
From the very beginning, our team has sought to deliver challenging projects that push us, our clients, and often regulatory bodies, to deliver beyond the status quo. These kinds of projects have driven the demand for cloud and we quickly progressed from helping clients move their websites, to helping them moving material workloads, to now transforming their entire business. As a result, we have always taken immense pride in delivering both regional and global industry firsts.
The Business Challenge
At Sourced, we frequently use the term “Cloud at Scale™”, so I want to explain what that really means to us. Over the past 10 years, we have had first-hand experience of those cloud programs that succeed and, conversely, of the leading indicators for failure. Unfortunately, failure isn’t always immediately apparent and can take many years to play out, but the same indicators are always present from the outset. Looking back, our most successful clients are now mostly transformed businesses and cloud has been the vehicle to ignite change within these organisations.
As an example, looking at only our financial services clients, this translates to more than 5000 meaningful applications running in the cloud – something we call the “5000 app problem” – as well as material workloads such as core banking systems or grid systems for risk and securities trading platforms. These are classed as material workloads because, from a regulatory point of view, if they stop, the bank stops being able to function with significant reputation and/or monetary repercussions.
In the context of material workloads, we have been focused on the challenge of building a cloud platform that satisfies the needs of developers but also provides enough transparency and control to ease the concerns of internal security, risk and compliance teams. For us, the solution is a unified cloud strategy that identifies the maturity arc of a multi-year journey and provides a single, cohesive, enterprise-wide cloud platform, suitable for any workload in the organisation. The momentum required to sustain such a change comes from aligning organisational maturity with cloud platform maturity and application requirements. Business criticality and data classification are the fundamental levers here.
Cloud at Scale™, to us, is when an organisation succeeds in building a positive flywheel that touches all these areas. It is important to note that when we speak about cloud platform maturity, we are no longer talking about the underlying technology, but the implementation or interpretation of public cloud at a given organisation. Every year since 2015, we have explained, “this isn’t a technology problem”. So, it certainly isn’t a technology problem in 2020; it’s a people, tools and processes problem.
The Sourced Team
Throughout all the challenges and successes that we’ve enjoyed as an organisation, the secret sauce that powers our innovative approach and feeds our unparalleled service is the resilience and dedication of our people. As I reflect on the past decade, I find myself humbled by the individuals who chose to become part of the Sourced story, who embraced the brand and made it their own. I have worked alongside great minds who excel at their craft but manage to remain humble every day towards their peers and clients alike. Humility is foundational to our organisation and I believe it’s the “true north” in our client-centric approach.
As I think about what we have achieved over the last 10 years, obviously our awards and industry recognition come to mind, but I am personally most proud of the opportunities we have provided our people. Our journey across the seas has facilitated many career highlights and opportunities for growth for our team with milestones such as filing for patents and driving world-first projects. By moving into new regions and launching exchange programs such as our “Down Under” program, we have provided people from diverse backgrounds and all walks of life the opportunity to explore new countries, new markets and new ways of life. It is extremely satisfying to me knowing that these career and life-defining opportunities were provided to our employees who have had an unwavering belief in our vision and our “why”.
To 2030 and Beyond
Finally, as businesses large and small continue to fight the devastating pandemic that has been sweeping the world, I have an unwavering belief in an eventual recovery and a better future. Sourced was built during the recession that followed the 2008 Global Financial Crisis and we learned valuable lessons in adversity that made us resourceful and resilient. As we look to the future, it is important to me that we keep our eyes on what we define as real success. For us, this is not measured in employee count or revenue growth; it is defined by our ability to continue to deliver challenging projects that present us with ever-increasing complexity but promise to deliver real differentiating value to both our clients and their end customers.
While this time is certainly challenging for us all, I take comfort in the solid foundations our leadership team has put in place over the years and I have faith that these will see our business through this storm. We are supported by a team of talented individuals who are dedicated to what Sourced stands for, investors who are committed to the long-term vision of our organisation, and clients who are looking to innovative cloud solutions to transform and build enduring value for their organisations.
Despite the challenges of the current pandemic, we have not stopped working hard to deliver our vision of Cloud at Scale™. With millions of people working successfully from home, the use of public cloud will deepen and evolve even faster. And, with three rapidly growing platforms, there is more native cloud surface area requiring our expertise to deploy securely and efficiently. Wherever there are scale or complexity challenges, we will be there to support our clients, solving their “5000 app problem”, and working to achieve developer agility while satisfying enterprise security and compliance requirements. We will continue striving to learn more and deliver more every day.
I want to express gratitude to the incredible team at Sourced, to our clients and partners who have been supportive from the start. Thank you for bringing us to where we are today. I am extremely proud to be part of this team and of all that we have accomplished over the past decade. While the short-term outlook may seem daunting, I am optimistic that our economies will thrive again, and that the next 10 years will see even greater success. Until then, stay safe and stay positive – this too shall pass.
Jon Spinks is a former UNIX engineer and Sun Microsystems-faithful who now finds himself on the constant learning journey of being a CEO. After founding Sourced Group in 2010 in Sydney, Australia, he is now based out of Toronto, Canada and spends most of his time focused on helping enterprises manage the impact of Cloud. After 10 years (and counting) of growing Sourced into a well respected international cloud consultancy, he is proud to be working with some of the smartest minds in the industry to deliver against the promise of providing differential value to its clients.