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Embrace Flexibility to Attain Business Process and IT Cohesion
By Ray Downes, CEO, Kemp
Ray Downes, CEO at Kemp, has worked in the IT sector for over 20 years. During that time, he held several executive and operational management positions in global companies like Cabletron Systems and Enterasys. In 2002, Downes co-founded Arrosys Ltd, a European-based sales & marketing agency. Later, in 2010, Downes joined Kemp to head up international expansion and was appointed as CEO in early 2012.
Downes attended both the Limerick Institute of Technology and the University of Limerick Public cloud adoption in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region continues to grow. With scalable back-end systems and functions, the cloud creates a regulated environment and provides access to proven tools which are utilized by IT teams to develop systems. Many organizations believe moving to the cloud enhances the productivity of teams and helps businesses launch new products and services quickly and efficiently. Leveraging more than 20 years of experience in IT sector, executive and operational management, and currently serving as CEO of Kemp, Ray Downes shared his thoughts on the importance of offering flexibility in solutions and services as per client requirements for a successful business.
What are the pain points that you have witnessed in the cloud space, and what is your approach to combat these challenges?
For upper-level executives such as CIOs, the challenge is to bridge the gap between traditional application platforms and modern hyper-scale ecosystems. They are trying to bring agility to the business, and at the same time are concerned about security. Therefore, they have to make sure that any rapid DevOps deployment is being done in a secure environment and would not have adverse impacts on the rest of their remit.
How exactly would you suggest enterprises embrace technological trends into their operations?
It is all about flexibility these days—giving flexibility around many deployments, the size of deployments, and the budget is also essential. Vendors are trying to mold their services, solutions, and offerings as per the clients’ requirements at a reasonable price. Our approach at Kemp is to be as flexible as possible, and we proved this by being one of the first vendors in the market with a per-app approach to load balancing and application delivery. We had sold to more than 20,000 customers and deployed about 50,000 units since our existence from 2003 until2017. But over the last 12 to 18 months, the amount of deployments has doubled to more than 100,000 because of the flexibility we provide.
How can industry leaders cope up with the challenges of cloud adoption?
Discussing with many industry leaders across the world about the problems of CIOs, I found that challenges are similar everywhere, from scalability to security. CIOs want control, visibility, and have the desire to minimize the amount of downtime. In the end, it’s about being able to deliver an optimal, always-on end-user application experience, or AX. They want to take advantage of all the public cloud has to offer, and at the same time, want to make sure that they are getting good value out of their on-prem infrastructure. We noticed that there are lots of shorter-term investments that they need to make in the coming days.
What is your approach to identifying the right partners for the business?
For management automation and provisioning, we take a central vision-based approach that enables you to predict what is going on in your network. A lot of the application management vendors are great at telling you what is “happening after” and will help you to identify where it is. Our approach is to get more in-depth analytics and find out “what is happening in the application right now.” If we can get information available on “current happening” in the application, operating with AI tools, we can predict future problems. That will help in shortening repair time and bring our customers closer to the idea of always-on AX. From a messaging perspective, it allows us to create a niche for ourselves, which has taken us beyond the load balancer or application delivery controller (ADC), enabling us to look deeper at the challenges that CIOs face. In turn, this helps those CIOs make better decisions about the vendors they work with.
According to you, what would be the best strategy to align new systems with legacy systems for better business outcomes?
It is all around the migration and the transition period. At Kemp, we have always put the customer first with maximum flexibility and value. Our products and software solutions are compatible with any legacy solutions, supporting either legacy hardware or the different virtual approaches. We support all the common hypervisors, significant clouds, and public cloud providers in the market, and we take this to the next level by helping with the migration process, as some may be looking to migrate over time from one to the other. Red Hat, VMware and Microsoft are some of our key partnerships and ecosystems that we support.
Any projects or that you have been a part of, especially in the APAC region in the recent past?
We have been active in the APAC region, and we primarily focus on markets in Southeast Asia, Greater China, and the Indian subcontinent. We have acquired a small business established as Kemp India, which turned out to be quite profitable. Among the active customers we are working with right now in APAC include a few of our largest customers globally. One of our clients in Indonesia, Wowrack, has built Kemp into its own data center as part of building out a new infrastructure. And, when they were building solutions for customers to offer in Indonesia, they use Kemp as a part of their provisioning system. Our product and licensing model suited them ideally because of our flexible approach with the option to bill their customers on a per-month, pay-as-you-go basis. We provided them with billing in the background based on that utility. There is no upfront investment from us to the vendor or from the vendor to the customer. It’s a win-win.
Could you talk about some of the personality traits that reflect in your leadership strategy when you work with a team?
It comes down to our culture. By focusing on core principles, respect, and leadership, our organization has built a strong leadership layer over the years. We work with the executives, extended leadership team, and everybody that has leadership responsibility across different departments. This is an ongoing effort and done as a collective about six-to-eight times every year to provide information around the strategy. This way, we also get valuable insights from their experience and can build those into our own thinking going forward. This helps to get the message out to the rest of the organization, allowing us to maintain consistency across our goals. Taking a customer-centric approach, we have also built a huge support team to gain customer loyalty and we pride ourselves on having one of the highest customer support scores in our market. For instance, our legacy had been very much focused on small-to-medium businesses, but many of those types of businesses have now become large enterprises and stayed with us throughout their journey.
Any piece of advice that you would like to give to a peer or CIO in this particular space?
Research well before making decisions for the long term. Understand the business of your clients before offering them solutions or services. This will save time for you, as well as for your customers. Talking to numerous customers helps in building analysis and provides useful quotations that you can utilize during the deployment of solutions.