Centre stage with Al Taylor Co-founder & CTO of cloudDNA…
Born – I grew up in Lincolnshire where kids used to go to school in a tractor or on a horse.
Studied / Education background – Electronic, computer and communication engineering at Lincoln Tech College. The computer part of the course was machine coding 7 segment displays - long before the internet.
Current role / bio – I am Co-founder & CTO of cloudDNA, the UK’s leading Citrix cloud networking consulting practice and winner of the Citrix growth partner of the year for Northern Europe 2018. As a digital author and presenter, I have spoken at numerous community and industry gatherings including Digital Transformation EXPO Europe and Citrix Synergy, the vendor's annual global customer event in the USA. I’m a member of the global Citrix Partner Technical Expert Council and the EMEA Citrix Partner Executive Council.
Who do you work for and what does your role entail?
I’m a Co-founder and CTO of cloud networking specialist cloudDNA with overall responsibility for all things technical along with some of the key relationships within our customers and vendors. We’re a small team so I’m still very close to our projects which gives me a great opportunity to work with our customers on a day to day basis.
I think this is really important as it helps me ensure that the products and services cloudDNA take to market remain relevant. As a specialist in our field, we get to work right on the edge of what’s technically possible so my role includes working with the Citrix networking product teams in the UK, US and India to help shape product road maps and feature enhancements to ultimately help our customers solve their delivery challenges.
What’s been your biggest work achievement of the last 12 months?
We came back from the global Citrix partner gathering in the US in January 2019 with the Growth Partner of the Year award for Northern Europe which was a massive coup considering the size of our team and the number of competitors in the territory. cloudDNA has always been about technology and the problems it can solve and I think our growth (and the award) is testament to the value that niche players like ourselves offer the market.
The real stand out moment for me though, was conducting our largest product order to date from the Circus Field at Glastonbury Festival. It was done securely using Citrix Workspace on my phone which was a real ‘stars align’ kind of moment - great customer story, record breaking purchase order, using the same tools we provide our customers. It was amazing what we were able to do in a field in Somerset on that June afternoon.
What is the biggest challenge facing the industry?
Many of us have been around the industry long enough to see trends and challenges come and go but from my perspective, we still need to address network capacity if we’re going to achieve all on the things we hope to do. Moving big data, a desire to increase real-time services such as voice and video, service automation via API and the proliferation of the billions of IoT devices that need to communicate with each other. The future promises different things to different organisations but only if the networks can keep up with demand.
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
I was once involved in a Kaizen initiative that was a real eye opener for me from beginning to end but the one simple statement that continues to resonate from the activity is work smart, don’t work hard.
What are your predictions for the IT industry for 2019/20 or beyond?
Having seen the difference that it’s made in our own customer base, it seems highly likely that SD-WAN will increase momentum as more organisations gain confidence from the early adopters. In essence, the old school WAN architecture is no longer fit for purpose and while some SD-WAN solutions are arguably little more than a VPN mesh, more mature vendor offerings offer a means to fundamentally change the way we build delivery mechanisms for branch and cloud services.
Add in the ability to significantly scale network capacity for a fraction of cost of traditional carrier offerings and you can see how SD-WAN has the potential to solve a lot of challenges for a wide range of use cases which is why I’ll be speaking about some of our field experiences on Wednesday at DTX Europe 2019.
How do you perceive the hype around AI, a big concern ethically or a huge opportunity?
I have plenty of the human kind to keep me busy on a day to day basis and can’t say I’ve honestly considered it in depth until now. I know as an industry we are still to define what constitutes as true AI over machine learning and that there is a media driven trend to let our imaginations run wild with autonomous doomsday machines roaming the planet.
Even Steven Hawkins expressed concerns for the human race but this prediction assumes that these machines will have an element of greed which in turn suggests an ability of sentience that will hopefully also provide potentially dangerous robots with a moral hand-break. We’re a reasonably long away from that level of development but there are some really cool use cases to investigate in the interim.
What do you think is going to be the next big technology development?
There are so many tangents in the industry that it’s difficult to pick out one but hopefully my online supermarket will be an early adopter of Big Data AI and figure out that I only ever buy vegan food so I’m unlikely to want to add bacon before I check out.
Join Al at Digital Transformation EXPO Europe
I’ll be speaking about SD-WAN in a UCaaS world on Wednesday which is super relevant for anyone looking to get the most out of Office 365 while Thursday’s session is about a new, intelligent way to ensure that even internet outages don’t affect service uptime. Nice.
Register FREE for your place at ExCeL London on 9-10 October 2019.