It’s time for something new
Greetings Folks. I have been spending some time researching the areas of technology that really excite me. And one area that I’ve had my eye on is the intersection of cloud economics, cloud architecture, and monitoring/analytics.
Over the past few years I have become fascinated with the economics of running large scale applications on cloud providers. Many companies believe that cost optimization on AWS is a finance problem, and these companies often struggle to make any reasonable improvements towards their operational costs. In reality, cost optimization is an engineering problem. Costs and technical architecture are the same problem, to optimize your cost you’ll be optimizing your architecture.
When finance teams work to optimize their costs, they focus on contracts, discounts, and commitments. But these optimizations make the assumption that the architecture is already optimized. Generally I’ve found that engineers don’t enjoy the responsibility of meeting their CFO and talking about why things cost the way they do. They want to fix problems and ship products. Some companies purchase a cloud cost management tool to help control its spend. But this only partially solves the visibility problem since these tools don’t understand your technical architecture, trade offs, and requirements. Lacking this context, it can never make accurate recommendations.
I’m looking to solve Cloud Cost Management & Cloud Optimization from an Engineering, Capacity Management, and Monitoring/Observability approach. Working in a cross-functional capacity providing engineering teams’ visibility into their spend, support for finance and business teams as they manage their cloud spend (including commitments and contracts), and building internal products to help support these functions.
I’ve been a product-minded technologist for over 20 years, and have been deeply part of the AWS ecosystem since 2009. Throughout my time at various companies, I have been a champion for taking a cost focused approach towards operating on the cloud–even earning the moniker “Captain COGS” while at ThreatStack for my focus on tracking and improving costs.
While at Sonian we built out our own internal tooling to better understand our cloud usage, and this experience drove our VP of Engineering to start CloudHealth. Later, I was able to help re-architect and optimize a SaaS service moving our gross margin from -150% to 75%, which helped us secure additional fundraising. More recently, I’ve been a Cloud Economist for The Duckbill Group and have helped dozens of clients better understand their cloud spend, provide actionable guidance for improvement, and negotiate over a billion dollars in AWS enterprise contracts.
My sweet spot is working cross-functionally to identify opportunities for improvement, taking projects from zero to one, and building teams around those projects for long term success.
You are either a late-stage venture backed or recently IPO’d company who’s operating on AWS at large scale.
You are spending around $25m-50m per year (or more!) on AWS, and potentially other cloud vendors as well. You are looking to gain better visibility and control into your overall cloud spend, while not slowing down your engineers and new product development.
Near term, you’re looking to improve your monitoring, reporting, and overall visibility around cloud spend. Ideally reducing this spend and/or making sure the company is making all the best architectural investments for the future.
Longer term, you are looking for an ongoing strategy for continual improvement of your infrastructure and are looking for someone to own the relationships with your cloud vendors and take advantage of all the benefits that exist. You’re looking for an internal expert on cloud strategy, when to go multi-cloud, and how to architect products to maximize price and performance. And finally, a dedicated expert to help engineering and product teams stay informed on the latest technologies and features from your cloud and other SaaS vendors. While I am open for companies from anywhere, I’m giving a higher weight towards companies that are in the US East Coast or have a solid presence in the Boston Metro.
This may be only a sample of projects you are considering I would be happy to discuss other adjacent projects.
A Sample of My Accomplishments
I was the 4th employee and joined as the Chief Product Officer tasked with helping with our go to market strategy, our company fundraising efforts, and our product analytics and metrics strategy. As natural with many early stage startups, I was involved in many parts of the business, from helping to recruit other members of the team, onboarding many of our early design partners, and building much of the foundational tooling powering our analytical data warehouse to support Customer Success and Product needs.
The Duckbill Group
I worked with mid-market and big-E enterprise clients to understand how they use AWS, dive into the cost implications of their architecture decisions, and provide guidance for improvement—finding tens of millions of dollars in savings for our clients. I helped negotiate nearly one billion dollars of enterprise contracts on behalf of our clients.
My solo consulting practice after ChaosSearch. In my most notable project while independent, I was the sole expert witness on AWS technologies for two law firms as part of the AWS vs. Microsoft DoD JEDI contract dispute. I researched thousands of documents to analyze the proposals’ strengths and weaknesses and the DoD procurement process. I then worked with the legal teams to craft arguments that became the main components of multiple legal briefs and complaints. AWS prevailed and the Pentagon canceled the 10 billion dollar contract with Microsoft.
I was the first non-founder Exec hire (VP Product). I used my deep experience in AWS and Elasticsearch to share the story and vision to help raise the Series A investment. Later providing go-to-market expertise as we brought on our first customers. I advocated for moving our UI front end from Elastic Kibana over to the Open Core for Elasticsearch version of Kibana to mitigate the risk that Elastic would change their licensing, which later became true. I pushed the company through the completion of a successful SOC2 audit earlier than planned, knowing our clients would require it.
I helped design, build, and scale the underlying infrastructure to support the ingestion of millions of security events per second. I was meticulous in monitoring our service availability and costs. I created a detailed unit economic framework that helped the product teams understand the cost of product and business decisions, helping turn around our gross margin from -150% to +75%. As the largest user of our own cloud security platform we planned and implemented product improvements before creating a dedicated product team. I wrote extensively about how we designed and built our DevOps strategy for success.
I built a team and modernized the infrastructure supporting one of the largest DNS providers on the planet. We created a bare metal as a service platform that sped up the time to provision new infrastructure from days to minutes. As a fast growing company, communication and tooling was fragmented. I worked to centralize the entire business around Slack. My team built centralized developer testing and deployment integrated with Slack for cross-business visibility.
As one of the earliest users of AWS, we were one of the top consumers of S3 and EBS, powering our Email Archiving Platform. Because we were so early to the cloud, many tools to manage it did not exist, so we had to build them. My team created Sensu to solve a problem with monitoring transient workloads, and we open-sourced to the community. We were one of the first and most extensive users of Elasticsearch, with multiple petabyte sized clusters, adding countless features to the open-source codebase. Commercial services like CloudHealth and Stackdriver were born from the internal products we created to manage the cloud systems.