This week, I joined SOASTA as Senior Vice President of Performance Analytics. Given my background in cloud computing and distributed systems operations — you may have read my blogs on CNET or GigaOm — this may surprise you, but I want to explain why this is the perfect time to take on this opportunity with this team.
In fact, that’s probably the best way to break this down. To explain why I’d leave the world of infrastructure and code for the world of data and analytics, let’s explore the timing, the opportunity, and the team that brought me to SOASTA.
When I started writing about what eventually became cloud computing in 2006, Amazon had just launched the S3 storage service, and the EC2 compute service wasn’t really on anyone’s radar yet — in fact, it still had two years as a “beta” service. In those intervening years, an opportunity was defined, a war was largely fought to define the market winners (though there are some skirmishes yet), and the expectations of everyone from software developers to executives to venture capitalists has forever changed.
What happens as these wars wrap up is not that all opportunity to innovate is forever gone, but that the winners create new opportunities in unexpected ways for those that look for them. That’s what’s happening in digital applications and services. The cloud has created new opportunities in a variety of businesses and industries. The time to move on these opportunities is now.
SOASTA sees huge opportunities with respect to how digital organizations measure success.
The rising nature of digital organizations, whether “purely” digital companies such as ecommerce or digital media companies, or digital units in traditional retail, customer service or consumer goods companies, is that they are data centric. They thrive on the feedback loops that come from measuring how customers interact with their products and services through web and mobile applications.
The cloud has enabled this simple nature to grow into a huge opportunity for web and mobile application performance management companies. All of that data that we techies have been gathering about load and execution times, API response times, and customer behavior as they flow through our applications is starting to correlate very closely with key business metrics, like conversion rates, revenue velocity, and net promoter scores. As our CEO, Tom Lounibos, likes to say, the best metrics that digital businesses will build on have yet to be defined.
But even more exciting is that there appear to be new ways of delivering analytics and correlation on the horizon, and SOASTA certainly can play a leading role in this, especially as it comes to bringing digital systems performance into the business conversation. SOASTA’s Digital Operations Center (DOC) is truly a beautiful demonstration of this concept, but there are so many options to be evaluated, it will take some time for the winners to wash out.
SOASTA aims to play a leading role in defining how digital performance management plays out in the coming several years — and it has the tools and the team to do it.
Without a doubt, one of the greatest assets that SOASTA has is its amazing team; not only the leadership team, but the entire company. Most people in the industry know what SOASTA has done to disrupt load testing, mobile testing, and real user monitoring, but what’s equally amazing is that they’ve done it with strong user interfaces, great architecture, and an excellent reputation for professional services and support. That may sound like “Kool-Aid” to you, but well before I joined, I heard people extolling the virtues of SOASTA, the company.
A big part of that, of course, is the leadership. I’ve known CEO Tom Lounibos for quite some time, and CSO Gamiel Gran and I worked at Cassatt together years ago. Ken Gardner and I have spent a lot of time recently discussing what could be possible, and what SOASTA has already done to enable us to move quickly. I’m just getting to know the other men and women on the executive team, but I will learn a lot from all of them.
My role on this team will be to lead the exploration of how the analytics enabled by CloudTest, TouchTest, mPulse and DOC can enable our customers to understand more about how their entire business operates — or at least the digital aspects of those businesses. I’ll be exploring analytics strategies, partnerships with data sources and third-party analytics companies, and ways we can bring what we discover to market.
I’ll be writing about this a lot, as well, so I hope you’ll drop in here at The Performance Beacon to see what we are up to. I’ll also be writing about more generic topics from time to time on Medium, and you can always find me on Twitter at @jamesurquhart.
About the Author
James Urquhart is Senior Vice President, Performance Analytics at SOASTA, Inc. Named one of the ten most influential people in cloud computing by both the MIT Technology Review and the Huffington Post, and a former contributing author to GigaOm and CNET, James brings a deep understanding of disruptive technologies and the business opportunities they afford. James is a seasoned technologist with more than 20 years of experience in distributed systems development and deployment, focusing on service-oriented architectures, cloud computing, and automation. Prior to joining SOASTA, he held leadership roles at Dell, Enstratius, Cisco, Cassatt, Sun and Forte Software. @jamesurquhart