SPA Conference session: Ahead in The Cloud - lessons learned, relearned, and unlearned in two years of building a product and business on 'cloud platforms'

One-line description:Warts-and-all run-through of what it has been like delivering a SaaS product built entirely on other people's platforms.
Session format: Case Study (75 mins) [read about the different session types]
Abstract:After 10 years of building large-scale enterprise systems for other people I decided to stop doing that to build a new SaaS business based entirely in 'The Cloud'. My company doesn't own a single server, doesn't have a data centre or a comms room, but provides a comprehensive SaaS product to a number of mid-tier investment banks and financial research houses by building entirely on platforms and services provided by,, Amazon and others.

This session will cover the many new lessons learned, some forgotten lessons relearned and some old habits unlearned in the process of turning our product from a simple prototype built on to a complex product built across a number of different platforms and services, used by our growing customer base. The focus will largely be on the technical aspects of what we've done but will provide the context of the operational and business advantages and limitations (approx. 70/20/10 split technical/operational/business).

My objective in running this session is to remove some of the hype from 'The Cloud' and to start a dialogue between practitioners about a vital topic currently dominated by vested-interested vendors and a hype-driven media.
Audience background:Primarily aimed at experienced senior technologists - architects, developers, and the like - but with material that might interest managers, product owners and entrepreneurs.
Benefits of participating:Genuine, hype-free, from the coal-face experience of building in the much-hyped 'Cloud'
Exploration of the different types of cloud platforms available, especially those beyond Amazon's AWS offerings
Reflections on getting started and getting the most out of cloud technology
Detail on some of the issues facing a relatively mature cloud-based business
Materials provided:Slides
Process:Presentation with Q&A
Detailed timetable:To be detailed but 60 minutes covering the following topics:

Why we went to the Cloud
What 'The Cloud' meant and means to us
What we had to unlearn
What problems we had to solve and how we solved them
Some things that surprised us
Some things that still puzzle us
Problems we currently face
What being a cloud-based business has meant to us and our customers
Looking to the future

Remainder of time for Q&A
Outputs:Slides plus write-up of Q&A
1. Paul Dyson
Singletrack Systems
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