GoodData, born on Amazon Web Services in 2007 and still operating 100 percent in the cloud, is an analytics Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) provider that offers its customers end-to-end analytics services, from storage and integration to front-end reporting and dashboards. With nearly 300 employees worldwide, the company recently migrated to its own private cloud environment hosted on Rackspace infrastructure.
As a PaaS provider, GoodData has strong experience and skills in cloud technologies. Its model involves collecting, loading and combining data from customer applications like Salesforce, Marketo, and NetSuite, and then processing, analysing, and presenting the data in reporting tools and dashboards.
Driven by founder and CEO Roman Stanek, GoodData's private cloud setup and recent migration were all done in-house. "Due to our strong engineering presence, we were able to operationalise it all internally," says product marketing VP Jeff Morris.
But having come from the 'build' side of the fence, GoodData engineers know better than most the challenges cloud can present. "To be successful in cloud computing, you need a vendor that provides resources to build out new functionality as well as the advice, strategy, and best practices for bringing capabilities to market," Morris adds.
Also key is what he calls "predictable ongoing release cycles."
Showing an empathetic insight and understanding of cloud providers' challenges, Morris says many players in the industry are finding their feet with cloud, just like their customers. "Given the majority of cloud computing is still quite immature, it's essential for you and your provider to gain the benefits of pay-as-you-grow without undermining each other's business model and go-to-market strategy."
Many traditional hardware players in the market, he adds, are new to the cloud and aren't necessarily able to support customers well enough to meet evolving needs. It causes quick churn among dissatisfied customers moving from product to product.
As the cloud market is still gaining maturity, the commercial model can be imperfect. Intense competition means cloud providers sometimes price services below true operating costs, and sometimes cloud customers find they can't justify or recover their cloud computing expenses. These are outcomes Morris has observed when expectations on both sides are misaligned.
Regardless of the risks and challenges, GoodData considers cloud environments a step in the right direction. If his company was run the 'old' way it would require hundreds of custom-tuned servers, and application stacks of more than 40 products and pieces of software. That approach would be too time- and resource-intensive for the company's business model.
"Moving to the private cloud revolved around our need to control the overall platform operation," Morris says. "We couldn't be bound by the performance of Amazon's SLAs. Amazon-related outages impacted GoodData customers at times, which doesn't happen any more."