editor's note: she went off script a little bit, but we wanted to share Dao's prepared remarks for those who couldn't attend.
First off, I want to thank each and every one who made the time from your work and personal schedule to be here to support the launch of The Office of the Cloud. Several of you have flown in to attend and support this event, thank you so much as we see this being a nation-wide organization, not just one focused on the Bay area.
This group was an idea of mine for over a year and it means a lot to myself personally and the organization to have your presence here today. I will go into a bit of detail on how this vision came to be and what I envision this organization will have to offer. But first…
As well, I would like to personally thank Storm Ventures and Ryan Floyd. Ryan, after hearing my vision for OOTC took it on himself to get Storm’s resources and commitment to make OOTC possible. I had shared the idea and concept with several companies and individuals and Ryan was the first to jump and ask “how can I help?" This was on our FIRST 1 on 1 visit. After a few months of discussions he and his team at Storm Ventures have put countless hours in not only their time but sharing our vision with their network to help support and join the OOTC.
I also want to thank Tim Chou, who we’ll introduce in more detail as our keynote speaker, for being generous with his time and really helping us think through the content for this event. Again it’s an amazing world. Like Ryan, I had met Tim only once and asked him to help out on to be our guest speaker for today. Not only was I impressed with his career and the caliber of execs he has had come speak to his Stanford students….I had to admit I was somewhat shocked being a asian gal myself from the midwest to hear a wonderful southern accent coming out of this asian man when he first started talking in our meeting :) I know …….only another asian can get away with say this :)....
Tim graciously immediately agreed to help. It’s men like Tim that with one interaction can make such a difference in a women’s life to help fulfill their work goals…. we just have to ask, ladies! We women don’t always ask enough in regards to our career... a hint … ask and you will likely receive… even if there is a little push back!
So why the OOTC?
There are so many networking groups focused on IT and helping women in IT, how is this organization different or “why, Dao did you feel that there was a need to start something" versus helping a some of the current organizations grow?
Let’s look back at 2012… .. I was at a small value added reseller trying to test how well I could do with not having a six figure salary and only a commission based job (a small step to owning your own business minus the expense costs) . My largest client was SuccessFactors, a very successful Saas company that had not yet been acquired by SAP nor did they use much public cloud as part of their infrastructure. Not many of my Enterprise clients made the move into the public cloud IAAS realm. I saw an opportunity to help more enterprise clients move to the public cloud and I realized it was ready to start my own business…
I bring up Success Factors bc not only were they not using a lot from public IAAS providers nor had a deployment in openstack (I had numerous clients who didn’t use much in public cloud) but there two wonderful men in the company who when I talked about my idea to branch off on my own, they were very receptive to giving me advice on the cloud industry and willing to help advise me for my first year in business on a weekly basis. One of those men is here all the way from San Diego in today, Arvind Gidwani. Arvind now manages the top clients at cloud clients Oracle.com. Arvind has always been person for me to go to to talk about my new ideas for services offerings to our clients and prospects as I see the technology landscape changes even in the last three years in the cloud industry and a person who I consider a personal friend who wants to see women succeed. Thank you Arvind from the bottom of my heart, its sometimes hard to remember who was there for you when the world is tough and lonely to start a new venture. Your contribution will never be forgotten.
Back to 2012… If I had gone the traditional route and created a value added reseller to compete with my peers; Fusion storm, IAS, Blue chip, cornerstone, Groupware… it would have taken a lot of capital to float hardware and software orders as well as marketing dollars to compete for brand recognition and to steal customers in the same space …as a new divorcee with four kids and a LARGE SF mortgage… this was next to impossible.
I also wanted to offer a differentiation in the market…. none of these companies were providing any cloud services at the time to their customers and prospects. … Hence the focus on being a cloud focused var was the answer both to my capital problem as I was only needing to front what was being spent monthly by clients. …
I knew no one at Amazon Web Services, Google or Azure at the time nor did I know how to sell it…. Hence the next piece of the puzzle was meeting a network of men (there are too many to give credit to today but you know who you are and most of them like Tim and Ryan were new men I had met that knew this ecosystem were willing to help new gal in the scene that didn’t know what she was doing) that helped introduce me to the players at these organizations and explain to me the issues they faced and what types of offerings would be of valuable to them as they were struggling to adopt public cloud. I didn’t care that I stood out like a sore thumb and didn’t mind admitting i didn’t know anything but I wanted to LEARN how to bring value and be part of the cloud economy. Ladies, what ever field you are wanting to branch out to this is my advice to you as well. There are people out there to help, we just need to make it possible with organizations like OOTC to help put you in front of them.
In less than 2 years Kaizen went from being neophyte to being seen as a resource in the cloud area to help enterprise clients acquire, architect and optimize their cloud. In 2014 Kaizen was Avnet’s #1 Cloud Services Provider in the Nation. We are proud to say Nasdaq, Snapchat, Solarcity, Bed, Bath and Beyond and many others are cloud clients of ours today.
Why do I share this background? Because after talking to prospects and clients while I was building the business model, I realized that many people in IT leadership were being put into cloud roles who didn’t’ have much experience in this area and it would be beneficial to put them to into a group of like minded IT managers to share successes and failures. The sharing of failures is as important as sharing success… this type of sharing doesn’t happen as often in a public forum. There are still very few Netflixes out there, most are hybrid enterprise organizations that are figuring out the right balance of on-prem and off.
I also saw this as a chance to help women in the industry play catch up or jump into the IT as a sector and not just in engineering roles but to quickly bring more women into operations, finance, legal roles and help them become more financially independent in what is considered one of the fastest growing IT spaces today. The cloud economy is up there next to software security and data science. That kind of rapid growth and innovation opens up space - everybody is figuring it out as they go, so smart, capable people can jump in and make an impact much more quickly than in the more mature on-premise world. My Finance controller was a math teacher and accountant who knew nothing about the IT world and now handles all my vendor relations with companies from Avnet to AWS. Outside of Amazon itself, you won’t find too many people who know more about AWS billing and usage optimization than our organization.
So, there’s a lot of opportunity, and also a lot of rapid change to process, and that’s where the vision for Office of the Cloud emerged. I didn’t want just to start an organization that talked about “why cloud is good and why you definitely want to go to it…" I wanted an organization that helped talk about the good and bad and lessons learned to help shorten the learning curve for other enterprises to adopt and create the right model for themselves. While doing so, I also want Office of the Cloud to help connect more women with opportunities to lead, learn, find mentors, and seize opportunities so that the male/female disparity in the cloud ecosystem isn’t as large as it is in the current onsite datacenter world.
So, today isn’t just a nice event where we get to drink some wine and hear from a brilliant speaker. It’s the launch of an organization with a mission that I think could have a real impact in shaping the future of our industry. There’s some real intellectual and organizational power represented in this room and a lot of heart, and we need to do something with it. So as the evening goes on, be thinking about how you want to contribute. We need people to step up and lead subgroups, host future events like this one, serve as mentors, get mentored and develop yourself into leadership. There’s a form on your table that’ll give us a better idea of how you’re interested in getting involved. As you enjoy the rest of the evening, please think about giving a little more of yourself to making this organization vibrant or inviting others to come help join us in the cause. This isn’t just an event, but the beginning of something special. You being in the room here makes a difference. So I want to thank each and every one of you for being part of tonight, and I hope you’ll be part of Office of the Cloud for a long time to come.
You can also listen to the audio from the launch by clicking the link below: