Chapter 2

Introduction

Subscribe and stay connected to the cloud

In 2008, I launched an enterprise collaboration product. It was an exciting time. Many months of hard work had gotten us here, and we were ready for the world. Hoping to get covered on the famous TechCrunch and talking to investors to raise funding, it seemed like nothing could go wrong. Then it happened. One fine morning, we found out our software had crashed. It had probably happened sometime during the night while we slept. We panicked. With our reputation on the line, we scrambled to get thing up and running again, and in a couple hours, we finally did. All seemed well until it crashed again the next day and the day after.

What we didn’t know was that a bug deep inside our database software was causing the memory to overflow and take everything down with it. Our worst nightmare had come true: We had a problem we couldn’t easily fix and a product we couldn’t launch. Instead of focusing on making our product better, we were struggling to keep things running. There had to be a better way. It was in the midst of this crisis that I stumbled onto something that promised to solve all our problems. This is the story of that discovery and how it reshaped my entire view of technology and our future.

The Google Cloud was a brand new platform that had just launched in beta. What really caught my eye was the promise that I wouldn’t have to do anything more than upload my code into their server. They would take care of everything for me. We took a week and did just that, and what happened next forever changed my views on how software products should be built. The result of our little experiment was nothing short of magical. Our product scaled effortlessly to tens of thousands of users. We never had to worry about pesky things such as getting hacked or having to buy more servers, and the best part was I never had to worry about database crashes ever again.

We live in a world increasingly dominated by software. Our entire day from our time at work to our time at home is spent interacting with software. In such a world, the quality of the software we use has a huge impact on people and organizations. Quality is defined by a number of things ranging from speed, security, scalability, and bugs to what is often referred to as delighting the user. You can’t skimp on any of these, and they are all really hard to get right, unless, of course, you get some help from the cloud.

My goal with this book is to help businesses, executives, students, founders, leaders, and innovators understand what’s really going on in the super-accelerated world of building data-powered technology products that are highly scalable and secure. I want you to be able to leverage this know-how to take your work and products to the next level. Why do you need to know this? The answers to that are pretty obvious. To sum it up, there are monumental shifts underway, and understanding and leveraging them will give you a solid competitive advantage. Your products will be substantially better, you will save money building and managing them, you will cut down on risk, and, most important, you will be able to focus resources on building your core value.

There are a lot of great examples of people and organizations that understand this new world and are leveraging it successfully. The team that built Pokémon GO, the massively popular mobile game, scaled it to handle hundreds of millions of users in matter of days by building on the cloud. The relatively small team behind Snapchat built a famous and massively popular app now used by hundreds of millions. Building on a managed solution such as the Google Cloud, these teams were able to focus entirely on their app, and when it went viral and millions of people came calling, Google’s infrastructure scaled automagically to handle the growth. This ability to instantly scale and not crumble under unpredictable popularity did wonders for early growth.

Another small startup that gained massive leverage by using the Google Cloud was Pulse, a popular news aggregation app that was eventually acquired by LinkedIn. Greg Bayer, who led this effort, explained in a blog post how it took about a day to build and launch a basic service, and as it grew by many orders of magnitude, they didn’t have to rework anything to manage that scale.

The very popular Netflix streaming video service also runs on the cloud. Netflix doesn’t have its own data center infrastructure. They instead use the cloud to instantly scale to match their aggressive growth, which is now giving the major TV networks a run for their money.

These stories are phenomenal testaments to what lies ahead for those who understand and leverage the cloud.

##How I Structured This Book

My aim for this book was to make it inspiring, entertaining, and educational. I have stretched the concept of creative freedom and structured the book in an interesting way. I wanted to take the reader on a journey through this software-powered future and show how the cloud is the foundation that this future is built on. Another aim of mine was to keep the content actionable and a little opinionated. This is the reason behind focusing on the Google Cloud and the billion-dollar infrastructure behind it. I speak about the key things I’ve learned from building software in Silicon Valley. I also dig deeper into artificial intelligence (AI), a key topic that drives so much of the wonderful (almost magical) innovation we are seeing today, including Siri and self-driving cars.

Chapter 1 covers the importance of the cloud in our lives and how some of the greatest companies and the most amazing products are built on it. It covers the issues that companies face and how the cloud can be the solution to so many problems. I speak about my personal journey that led me to discover the power of the cloud and what it did for me.

In Chapter 2, I took the creative freedom to include some stories about the future of our software-powered world. They serve to show us how magical things are getting and how data and the cloud increasingly power the world we live in.

In Chapters 3 and 4, I take the reader on a journey through the Google Cloud, a powerful cloud platform that I’ve had a lot of experience with. This chapter gets a little technical, but it’s worth it, as it provides fantastic insights into how the cloud functions, its infrastructure, and the value it can deliver to you.

In Chapter 5, I explain how popular world-changing products and companies have leveraged the cloud to achieve things that previously would have been almost impossible. This chapter is full of fascinating real-world case studies and stories.

In Chapter 6, I distill the opinions and values I’ve gained from working in Silicon Valley and in the technology world. This chapter delivers key insights into how software products of the future are being built.

I believe that data is more valuable than gold and oil. In Chapter 7, I dive deeply into how the cloud can help you manage huge amounts of data to derive valuable insights from it and build new products from it.

AI and machine learning is how we’re spinning data into gold. Chapter 8 serves as a primer into what all of this is about. We’ll look at how AI works and how the cloud can make it easy for you to leverage it.

Subscribe and stay connected to the cloud

All product names, logos, and brands are property of their respective owners. All company, product and service names used in this website are for identification purposes only. Use of these names, logos, and brands does not imply endorsement. The TC50 photograph above (center) is by Jen Consalvo.

© 2016 Culture Capital Corp.