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Predictions Series 2022: AiThority Interview with Jeff Kukowski, Chief Executive Officer at CloudBolt

Jeff Kukowski, Chief Executive Officer at CloudBolt

Hi, Jeff. Welcome to our Interview Series. Please tell us a little bit about your journey and what inspired you to start at CloudBolt?

I joined CloudBolt in 2020 as its Chief Executive Officer and a member of CloudBolt’s Board of Directors. The CMP market was poised for huge growth and IT was under tremendous pressure to manage cloud resources quickly, cost-effectively, and securely. I was inspired to join to help build upon its momentum as a leading enterprise management platform. The unmatched flexibility and comprehensiveness of CloudBolt’s offering made it unique, so it made me want to play a role in further shaping the company’s mission and growth.

What is CloudBolt and what are your core offerings?

CloudBolt started as a cloud management platform but has evolved to offer a comprehensive, award-winning cloud automation, visibility, and governance framework. The specific capabilities are designed to stitch together a disparate multi-cloud, multi-tool, multi-team world and bring order to the chaos for enterprises. Through innovation and acquisition, CloudBolt has systematically built capabilities that benefit all stakeholders – ITOps, DevOps, SecOps, and FinOps – by enabling:

  • Automation & Orchestration – unify platforms and processes via self-service to accelerate outcomes using an orchestrator of cloud automations.

  • Cost Visibility & Optimization – optimize budgets, set alerts, and generate reports – all with a single view across clouds.

  • Cloud Security & Governance – enhance security best practices and govern risky behavior out of the process.

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Please tell us about the major milestones you managed to achieve in 2022?

In 2022, we announced our innovative CloudBolt framework with advanced capabilities designed to overcome critical roadblocks many of the world’s largest organizations are experiencing. Through this framework, we unified solutions for hybrid cloud management, cost management, and automation integration, while adding powerful new capabilities to form an advanced foundation for hybrid cloud/multi-cloud success.

We also published two CloudBolt Industry Insight reports (CII) – the fifth and sixth installments of our research – that dive into specific dimensions of hybrid cloud/multi-cloud topics and examine each one’s role in digital transformation.

The first report, Hitting A Wall In A Multi-Cloud, Multi-Tool World, surveyed global IT leaders to uncover the unmet cloud needs that are hindering cloud innovation and what is required for cloud success going forward.

Our latest report, Filling the Gap: Service Providers’ Increasingly Important Role in Multi-Cloud/Multi-Tool Success, uncovered enterprise sentiment regarding cloud-oriented services providers – and identified exactly which services and capabilities enterprises need providers to enable and fulfill.

We are also gearing up for the release of our newest CII Report about security in the cloud, which will be live on our site next week.

What are your plans for 2023?

Whether through design, acquisitions, Shadow IT, or happenstance, most large enterprises now find that they are multi-cloud in their approach. And in most instances, the promise of public cloud making owned data centers obsolete has not materialized; more often than not, companies are looking at what makes sense to keep or even return to the data centers. Hybrid is the model, and CloudBolt was built specifically to address these complexities.

I think in 2023 we will continue to be the go-to choice for large enterprises who need extreme flexibility for complex multi-cloud strategies. I think the trend toward CloudBolt becoming a key enabler for Managed Service Providers (MSPs) only increases, as our solutions create new and differentiated offerings. And I believe our traction in the government sector – specifically Federal agencies – will hit full stride as we continue to bring those customers exceptional value.

What is the future of Hybrid Cloud Automation in the IT and Security/Secops industry? What are the major challenges that you forecast for customers?

The need to “do more with less” seems to be a mantra across industries right now given the uncertainty of the economy. That includes implementing more cloud automation. The concept of “reuse” – creating ways for teams to easily share and manage elements of the process that work as opposed to reinventing the wheel – is central to the next evolution of hybrid cloud automation. Reuse is going to emerge as a top trend for 2023 and beyond.

Furthermore, as multi-cloud/hybrid cloud grows and scales, and as all the dimensions of cloud ops (IT Ops, DevOps, FinOps, SecOps, etc.) attempt to work together more seamlessly, a single, overarching repository for all “automations” will become essential. Companies are starting to recognize this but few actually have implemented it holistically, according to our new research.

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Please tell us how the role of a modern IT and security-centric transformation software changed during the pandemic. What are the expectations from these platforms today?

At the start of the pandemic and throughout that period, we saw a mass acceleration of digital transformation (particularly the move to public clouds), as “work from home” necessitated new paradigms for many aspects of business operations – including security. Companies doubled-down on cloud and they trusted the security mechanisms inherent to native tools and/or monitoring tools to bolster protection. The move away from data centers, a sharp uptick in Shadow IT, and a growing lack of cloud security expertise led to a vastly widened threat surface. Now, as companies reassess after a “move everything to the cloud at any cost” period, there is a growing realization that the greatest threat vector is at the individual user level – the people provisioning cloud resources for various tasks across the organization. There has been an assumption of security and oversight at the macro level, but the reality at the individual level is much less assuring. The truth is that cloud has made companies “somewhat or sometimes secure” depending on who enters security parameters during provisioning and applies (or does not apply) the proper protocols. This is something our upcoming research clearly identified, and the implications are eye-opening.

What are the critical factors that influence agility and effectiveness of IT automation in mainstream business processes? What role could AIops and MLops play in this field?

The core value prop of cloud is agility – the ability to spin up and spin down compute resources dynamically as workloads warrant. But what happens when a company has too many reserve instances or unused/abandoned VMs that just persist like expensive space junk? AI and ML are becoming increasingly useful for increasing multi-cloud visibility, identifying cloud cost inefficiencies, and optimizing cloud spend.

Additionally, across cloud automation, especially as companies come to grips with multi-cloud and hybrid cloud, AI/ML will increasingly play a more central role in automating and offering up the best option for a development workload (on-prem or a particular public cloud). These tools are much more efficient than forcing a user to try to manually assess and make these decisions. Usually, the user cares most about finding the fastest route to the resources needed to do their job. Making it so the end user leverages the optimal choice without having to think about it is a huge step forward, which ties back to the overall issue of increasing cloud spend efficiency.

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Advice to every Security/Secops business leader on how to use workforce management technology for their organizational development:

Looking ahead to 2023, I think we’ve reached the point where companies are beginning to more fully appreciate the wisdom of taking cloud security issues out of the hands of the end user and automatically applying security into every workload with correct parameters and values. This goes back to reuse – establishing blueprints of exactly what the correct security parameters should be by cloud type and automatically applying them during the provisioning process. This removes a significant amount of human error from the equation. In essence, you make each end user a “cloud security expert” precisely because they no longer have to be a cloud security expert. In contrast, over-reliance on a cloud security monitoring solution only makes you aware of issues after the fact, and native cloud security tools are only applicable to a specific cloud, not multi-cloud (and they still require a lot of knowledge/information of the end user – things that can be easily missed or fat-fingered).

Thank you, Jeff! That was fun and we hope to see you back on soon.

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Jeff Kukowski is CEO at CloudBolt, which helps companies automate easily, optimize continuously and govern at scale in hybrid and multi-cloud, multi-tool environments. Building companies and category-leading solutions across all stages, industry verticals, geographies, technologies and cultures, Jeff has scaled companies from every stage – including start up, venture-funded to exit, private equity backed, and public company turnarounds. Jeff has proven success in developing and launching relevant new solutions and categories across software as a service, mobile, cloud, consumer and enterprise software, channel and high velocity models to critical market adoption and revenue.

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CloudBolt helps companies automate easily, optimize continuously, and govern at scale in hybrid and multi-cloud, multi-tool environments. Pulling together islands of automation, our framework helps unify disparate capabilities for DevOps, ITOps, FinOps, and SecOps. Backed by Insight Partners, CloudBolt has won numerous awards and has repeatedly been recognized as one of the fastest-growing private companies on the Deloitte Fast 500 and the Inc. 5000 lists.

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