Corus360 Talks Data Center Modernization
A Q&A with Steve Johnson
Steve Johnson is President of Corus360, a technology consulting and solutions company specializing in best of breed infrastructure solutions, IT management consulting, data center technologies, disaster recovery, managed services and enterprise applications. Johnson has more than 25 years of expansion the IT industry, and his career includes sales and management positions at Harris Corporation and GE Capital Network Services.
StrataCloud: Your company was recently named to the CRN Fast Growth 150 list. To what do you attribute this success?
Johnson: We have tried to stay relevant with the current IT issues in the marketplace. I have a resiliency business that is focused on helping organizations cost-effectively maintain their competitive business advantage during a disaster. We do this through data replication to our data centers and we leverage a cross-platform stack of technologies from companies like IBM, Sun and Intel. Many of our customers are ones that just can’t afford a huge disaster recovery infrastructure. We can share infrastructure across customers in different geographies which allows us to drive the cost down and improve the execution of the disaster recovery plan. When the market was tanking in 2008 and 2009, we decided to build a people as a service business to help customers solve big problems like Exchange migrations, Windows migrations, and basically stay lean while handling critical IT needs. Transform 360 is our latest business, focused on moving and cloning a customer’s environment in the cloud. Our growth over the last couple of years has been primarily in this area of helping customers move to the cloud and helping them differentiate and select from the different cloud offerings out there.
StrataCloud: Explain how the modern data center, incorporating technologies such as SDN, virtualization, flash storage, and unified management is evolving for your customers.
Johnson: It’s transforming my whole engineering group. The physical infrastructure guy dealing with routers is still needed, but in a few years this will be handled entirely through software. Everything is changing. Companies need to create teams of OpenStack engineers. If we don’t transition we’re going to be a dinosaur. All of our customers are looking into this, but the timing of making the transition depends on their hardware refresh cycles. Many companies are transitioning security from appliances to a software-based deployment. We are also seeing a move away from spinning disk to implementing flash-based storage to increase the speed of certain applications.
StrataCloud: Given the complexities of hybrid and public cloud, any best practices you have seen for customers to manage those environments?
Johnson: This is a big problem. Companies are dealing with very mixed and dispersed environments and they need to bridge the gap between all these tools. The APM tools, server tools, storage tools, and network tools…are they feeding into a common pane of glass? Maybe. But even that notion is becoming antiquated. If I am an app developer in a large company, how do I know where to deliver it if I don’t know what resources are free? How do I know I am backing it up properly? You need visibility into the environment before you deploy the application so that you can deploy it rapidly and grow the application over time. There are so many integrated dashboards on the market, but they don’t help if you don’t know where to look first. Every business has different metrics that are important, such as X, Y and Z. What’s needed is a simple way to pull all that data together, based on the needs of my company, and doesn’t require a bunch of developers to keep it running.
StrataCloud: What’s the best leadership advice you have these days?
Johnson: We are a new company. I am a 50-something CEO, and I have hired a lot of young people with fresh new ideas. So I say, listen to them. They were born in the cloud and while they don’t have the experience and business knowledge of some of my peers, they do have a lot of new ideas and sometimes better ways to do things. We hold roundtables at our company to get feedback from everyone. It’s important to have a venue where employees can freely share ideas.