Clune says that there are many misconceptions around the term ‘cloud’ and that it’s complicated by misunderstanding of the terms ‘public cloud’ and ‘private cloud’. She believes that those concerns have been largely allayed.
“Cloud is a CIO’s dream”
“Being able to demonstrate that those platforms were suitable was quite an exciting step in moving away from a command-and-control environment,” she says.“Cloud is a CIO’s dream,” says Clune.
“In the past if PwC wished to experiment with new products and services, they were required to source hardware, provision hardware, support it and commit to a long-term investment. Cloud, on the other hand, allows PwC to tap into resources that are available on demand, which is a huge differentiator in terms of speed and agility and cost.”
“PwC Australia no longer owns a data centre, or indeed any in-house infrastructure at all. We freed ourselves from all assets. The cost benefit of moving to the AWS Cloud has been significant. There’s a cost that comes with owning technology and there’s a cost that comes with consuming technology as a service. Even if the unit cost is the same. I’m only consuming it for a week, and not three years – which I’ve already done when I’ve bought a server,” she says.
That adjustment in the way the organisation thinks about the cost of technology – moving it from capital expenditure to operational expenditure – means greater agility and allows PwC to think about how it can be more cost-effective over time.
PwC is using AWS’s Infrastructure-as-a-Service, but also utilising some of the product sets that are available on the Amazon platform, such as WordPress. It’s also exploring more of what AWS can provide in terms of product sets.
Clune sees cloud – and the AWS Cloud specifically – as a way of supporting the product development cycle and getting products into the market.
“One of the great benefits we’ve seen is the ability to scale when you need to and shrink when you need to – to have full control of your capacity and your workloads. This is an enabler for experimentation with the ability to fail fast and to scale for a period of time.”
Of course this has also presented challenges in terms of skill sets, but again AWS has been able to help.
“Working with AWS has been hugely beneficial for us in terms of upskilling our existing team, but also attracting new members who have embraced the expertise required to make the most of the AWS platform.”
“I’ve learned that the true transformation is happening behind the scenes. It’s all about easily being able to address resilience, stability and agility in a move that was necessary, but turned out to be one of the biggest transformations we’ve done.”
The end result has been unexpected in some ways as Clune says she was surprised by the silence, and the incredible stability that the platform has offered. “The degree of automation that’s built into AWS has delivered a whole range of benefits that we weren’t thinking about when we made the move to AWS. In particular the ease of use and accessibility of AWS is really giving us a new platform to deliver products and services in a new way”.
“This changes the way we work with each other and with our clients. We have the technology experience, they have the business experience – we’re the broker of these services.”
“AWS allows us us think very differently about what’s possible,” she says. “Cloud has been pivotal in allowing us to offer technology to our people and clients that perhaps would not be possible in other forms.”
Clune is trying to build a digital culture at PwC. “You can transform a product, you can transform a service – but what you really want is to build a community of people who are comfortable in the changing world of technology. Digital is in PwC’s DNA, and AWS has enabled us to build a platform to make that possible.
Given the opportunity to go back and do it all again, Clune says she would change only one thing: “I would accelerate our move to the cloud.”