About Asad Malik

Asad Malik leads & and develops Product Management & Marketing for Managed Services. With technology written in his DNA, Asad is also an authority in several categories of consumer-grade gadgets. An avid photographer and long-term calligrapher, Asad does love his art! Passionate around the use case for each gadget he owns or has reviewed, Asad has helped translate the features and benefits of the technology to the masses in both professional and social circles. Asad has had previous roles at Rackspace, IPC Systems, Airwave and Sun Microsystems, with roles ranging across Product Management, Marketing and Solutions Consultancy. With several years of experience of launching, promoting and evangelising new products and services, including private and hybrid cloud, Asad is spearheading new campaigns to deliver real value from the Product Portfolio he is responsible for.

Believe the glass is always (more than) half full…

In support of Mental Health Awareness…

Your heart feels like giving in…
You feel you cannot breathe,
You look around in desperation…
Your mind and soul want to grieve.

But such is the human spirit…
That deep down will keep you going,
That will guide you to hope eternal…
To prevent you from further falling.

Indeed, the (community) human spirit prevails…
Strength and support, ready and waiting,
Shining a light when it gets darkest…
Driving you to keep on staying…

To the new path that awaits you…
The next chapter of your journey,
Where you will overcome yet again…
Challenges of past and negativity.

So be patient, take your time…
Let it happen, let it flow…
Leave behind the stress and tension…
Life will move on, albeit at first slow…

And then it starts, then you smile…
Wondering what the fuss was all about…
T’was just another milestone to pass…
Learning a life lesson to get out.

Where, again, all is appreciated…
All is good and peaceful again,
Taking everything into perspective…
Realising life is very much worthwhile, Amen.

Transforming Cloud Spend into Strategic Value

While looking after Cloud Cost Management at Cloudreach, I was often asked by clients how do they actually get started on better, more strategic management of their cloud spend.

To that end, I developed this whitepaper, assisted by my esteemed colleague Jonny James, to pragmatically lay out the steps on the journey to maximising their return of investment in the Cloud.

Cost Optimisation in Public Cloud – A Cloudreach whitepaper

The Complicated World Of Cloud Cost Management

In this post, originally posted on the Cloudreach Blog, I considered the complicated economics of public cloud and suggested how enterprises can address cloud waste with effective cost management practices.

Cloud cost management is proving to be a key challenge for enterprises trying to realize the true value of their public cloud initiatives. Cloud wastage continues to be the main concern with 64 per cent of enterprises surveyed in Flexera’s 2019 State of the Cloud Report confirming optimizing existing cloud spend as the top initiative for the third year in a row.

But why is cloud wastage such common a problem?

The economics of public cloud is complicated.

First, you need to get to grips with the differences between the consumption-based, OpEx financial model of the cloud, next to the cyclical, predictable CapEx model of data centres.

Then you need to take into account the sheer number of products and services available from the Cloud Service Providers. Market statistics demonstrate there are as many as 500k SKUs collectively across all CSPshaving pricing/feature changes almost every other week.

This complexity is also underpinned by the different mechanisms to procure cloud, as well as associating the best instance type to the corresponding workload.

Now let’s look deeper into how organizations operate. Many enterprises have very complex sets of cost-related criteria for projects, (moving timeframes for procurement for agile projects, associating and implementing multiple cost centres and identifying, implementing and enforcing global tagging strategies). We then need to examine the all-important invoicing perspective, this bringing along their own set of challenges. You must ensure invoices marry up to consumption (reconciliations taking the most effort and time), ensure credits owed are pursued/received and payments are paid in a timely fashion to maintain a healthy and consistent budget (not to mention ensuring regulatory compliance is met!).

Let’s now turn our attention to the team that needs to undertake this effort. You can begin to see how this is not a one-person job. Effective cloud cost management requires a skilled team that is able to scale the workload and responsibilities of financial governance, reporting and data visualization to support showback/chargeback, the optimization process itself, as well as procurement support.

Hiring one or two full-time employees is still insufficient from a business-as-usual perspective as holidays, sickness, and training needs to be covered. Relating to the latter, with Cloud Economics being a new discipline, it takes significant time to (a) develop the skills needed and (b) maintain the knowledge with all new developments from cloud service providers. This is further compounded when enterprises procure cloud from more than one provider.

Lastly, both new processes and software are needed to help maintain control over cloud cost spend. This applies across your business and must be maintained between Finance/Procurement and IT/Engineering/Development. With Cloud Economics disrupting the traditional planning and procurement process of provisioning moving from weeks/months to hours/minutes, it is clear Finance and Procurement need new processes and software to take as much of the load where possible.

Where do you go from here?
So, how do you start managing your cloud costs? What best practices do you leverage? What are the cornerstones of effective cloud cost management? How do you deliver managed governance, optimization and achieve a tangible return on your investment?

This new journey starts with rediscovering your environment through the lens of cost management. Once cost optimisation opportunities across instance types, processes and automation become apparent, these can then be collated and put together into a set of actionable recommendations with associated savings. Implementing those recommendations is no easy task, so having the right skills and relevant experience is highly critical. The nuances and idiosyncrasies of Cost Management are subtle but powerful and manipulating the various spend levers available need to be managed with care.

Nothing beats knowledge. A regular drop-in training driving education around this topic is a wise option. Perhaps, more importantly, educating the principles of cost management is key for driving a culture of cost awareness throughout the organisation. This helps to drive the correct behaviours around developing cloud-native cost-effective architectures, using various mechanisms like scheduling and auto-termination policies to shutting down idle resources. It also helps to drive outcomes such as well-aligned teams (particularly between Finance / Procurement and IT / Engineering / Development).

Cloud Cost Management is a primary challenge and number one priority across mid-market to large corporate enterprises. Do not delay and get started on implementing the necessary strategies for managing cloud waste in your organisation.

#CollaborativeEconomy is on the rise

Check out my first blog for Arkadin:

#CollaborativeEconomy is on the rise. 

The Collaborative Economy – moving from community practice to a successful business model

What is the Collaborative Economy?

The Collaborative Economy or the Sharing Economy, is a term to describe economic and social activity involving online transactions. The Collaborative Economy is driving hybrid market models that are largely peer-to-peer exchange based, facilitated by community-based online services such as marketplaces.

Why is the Collaborative Economy on the rise?

A couple of years ago, PwC conducted a survey to understand if the sharing economy was a throwaway trend or a genuine business model to, amongst other goals, help companies become more resilient (i.e. withstand recessions), identify new revenue streams and deliver premium customer experiences. The study was fascinating and seven core pillars were identified as a result:

  • Digital platforms that connect spare capacity and demand
  • Transactions that offer access over ownership
  • More collaborative forms of consumption
  • Branded experiences that drive emotional connection
  • Understanding an economy built on trust
  • Rethinking value exchange
  • The push for less friction

These pillars continue to support a wide range of business models that are in existence today. What is interesting to note is how it supports digital transformation, the current hot topic in industry, driving businesses to reassess their portfolio to drive new revenue growth. This begins with businesses examining their assets and understanding which can become digital and shift from offering an item to offering a relationship (and optimise that relationship accordingly). Implemented correctly, relationships create more perceived value, commanding more revenue as a result.

How are businesses tapping into the Collaborative Economy?

Subscriptions are one way to drive the relationship value exchange. Consumers get increased access to content in exchange for a subscription commitment. Other revenue-generating models, as described by Collaborative Consumption, include:

  • Service fees: A company takes a percentage of the total transaction for successfully matching two sides of marketplace (e.g. hosts and guests, buyers and sellers, drivers and passengers).
  • Flat membership/subscription: A company charges a flat monthly or annual membership fee regardless of usage.
  • Tiered subscription: A company offers a range of subscription plans at different price points based on frequency of use or number of goods desired.
  • Membership plus usage: A company charges a one-off or annual membership fee (sometimes with different plans offered based on frequency of use). Additional fees are charged based on usage.
  • White label: A company creates a back-end platform that can be licensed and branded by other companies.
  • Freemium: A company offers basic services or use of the platform/app for free. Users then ‘trade up’ for additional benefits and exclusive features.

But returning back to the premise the collaborative economy is based upon, businesses built on sharing of resources, an underlying level of communication and collaboration is implied to make this economy successful. Just recalling the pillars mentioned previously, it’s clear that emotive connections build trust.

“…the value of a brand is often linked to the social connections it fosters. Managing these connections is fundamental to successful marketing. In the case of sharing, experience design is critical to engendering emotional connections. By providing consumers with ease of use and confidence in decision-making, a company moves beyond a purely transaction-based relationship to become a platform for an experience…”

– PwC – ‘Assessing the Sharing Economy’

Key tenets for business growth in the Collaborative Economy

“Managing connections”, “ease of use”, and “become a platform for experience” look to be key tenets for business growth. It’s no longer selling a product set or solution, but selling and delivering an experience. And collaboration is key to helping sell those experiences. This is why, here at Arkadin, we have invested in delivering communication and collaboration platforms that are intuitive and brandable (white labelling that can be licensed/branded by other companies), to create those emotive connections. These platforms are backed by teams within Arkadin that companies have trusted in delivering powerful connections with their clients.

The Collaborative Economy is here

The collaborative economy is here. Think AirBnB or Uber, both successful organisations based on this premise. The concept of sharing has moved from a community practice into a profitable business model and at its heart is digital transformation.

What are you waiting for? Begin your journey to the digital workplace and start transforming your business.

Are Enterprises Ready To Migrate To Windows 10?

Win10MIgration

The day has arrived … If you have reserved your free* copy of Windows 10, then expect to update your device to the latest shiny version in the next few days, weeks, etc (those download servers are going to be very busy, bless them).

But are Enterprises ready to migrate to Windows 10? Normally waiting for the first service pack (or two), enterprises will usually wait and delay (months, even years) before adopting a new platform. But remember that the current favourite, Windows 7, will go out of support in 2020. That’s only five years away. And while that may seem a long way away, migration to new platforms instills fear in even the most respected and talented consultants and engineers out there. So start early, follow age-old best practices and plan well to increase your chances of success.

At a high-level, I feel there are seven considerations:

  1. Backup & Protect – Backup your data, applications, their licences and for goodness sake, test those backups!
  2. Application Landscape (Roadmap) – Download Windows 10 versions of your apps or at least get a roadmap from vendors if they currently don’t exist.
  3. P.O.C / Test Environment – There’s no excuse for not setting up a test environment and run it in parallel with production.  Fire up some VMs and get familiar with Windows 10 and test how your applications behave.
  4. Communication of Plan – It’s one thing to develop plans, but they’re next to useless unless they’re communicated to the correct stakeholders (executive sponsor, clients, vendors, internal impact teams).  Bonus of this?  You never know when you need support, so continually communicating your plan will increase your chances of getting the help and resources you need and when you need them. Hand in hand with this should be a risk register, detailing the risks, their impact, consequences and mitigation plans.  You will find this will be indispensible in getting these stakeholders onside.
  5. Deployment – Stick to best practices explained by Microsoft, consult the community (some of the best talent out there who have lived and breathed through several deployments) to offer extra insight and leverage vendor support who can act as your extended resource for patches etc.
  6. Execute Test Strategy – Develop a test plan that mirrors production environments.  Use that as a foundation and then tweak it to maximise the new feature sets in Windows 10.  It’s a living document, so pay close attention to detail until each and every check box is ticked.
  7. Follow-Up – Don’t sit on your laurels!  Follow-up with your employees, clients and vendors and check if the user experience, performance and reliability is all you hoped for.

Click here for more details on how planning for these seven steps will help you on your journey to Windows 10.

Asad Malik, @asadmaliksimba

Great resource to get you started on Content Marketing

B2B Content Marketing Cook BookA few years ago, a lovely colleague of mine had this small book on her desk (Maria, I’m looking at you kid!).  Titled The B2B Content Marketing CookBook, it very quickly and  succinctly walked you through different strategies on how content marketing can aid lead generation.

Love the analogy with recipes (being a foodie, what did you expect?!).  Let me know if this inspires you to whip up some great content marketing pieces!

Asad Malik, @asadmaliksimba

Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe …

For those who don’t know Simon Sinek, he is a business visionary and Management Theorist.  Whilst this video was posted up on Ted back in March 2014, it has a timeless message.  Best part for me is about 10 minutes in, and I quote:

Leadership is a choice. It is not a rank. I know many people at the senior most levels of organizations who are absolutely not leaders. They are authorities, and we do what they say because they have authority over us, but we would not follow them. And I know many people who are at the bottoms of organizations who have no authority and they are absolutely leaders, and this is because they have chosen to look after the person to the left of them, and they have chosen to look after the person to the right of them. This is what a leader is.”

Here is the video.  Enjoy!

Asad Malik, @asadmaliksimba

How to Make a Pinhole Camera for Friday’s Solar Eclipse and Not Go ‘Selfie Blind’ | Gizmodo UK

My brother is an eye specialist and while common sense should prevail, he stresses, as do I, to please take the care needed when observing the solar eclipse tomorrow 🙂

http://www.gizmodo.co.uk/2015/03/how-to-make-a-pinhole-camera-for-fridays-solar-eclipse-and-not-go-selfie-blind/