Journey from custom dev to the cloud

Adam Shapiro, director, Autopilot Workflow Solutions.
Adam Shapiro, director, Autopilot Workflow Solutions.

ITWeb Cloud Summit is in its second year in the current format, and brings you more than ever before in experts, content, case studies, and relevant local insight.

We have the ear of the experts in cloud in South Africa and as result the 2018 event will continue to deliver on its mandate: to dissect the A - Z of cloud for a more agile, cost-efficient and secure business environment.

ITWeb Cloud Summit 2018

This consists of two tracks, with over 20 experts presenting on everything cloud-related from strategy, security and compliance to security and technology trends. For the agenda, click here. If you are a qualified end user register now for this free-to-attend cloud conference and exhibition or showcase your cloud products, services and solutions at this exclusive event on Thursday 8 February 2018, Vodacom World, Midrand. Contact Debbie Visser on to find out how you can be seen as an expert in cloud by over 200 qualified end users.

We spoke to Adam Shapiro, director, Autopilot Workflow Solutions, about the company's initial journey into the cloud, and its subsequent movement from pure software as a service to consulting to a FICA product and finally the white labelling of their offering.

ITWeb: You are presenting on your journey from custom dev into the cloud and subsequent pivots - why did you decide to take this route what did you believe to be the benefits?

Shapiro: You have very little chance of survival if you don't pivot in the IT industry. We started our first company in 2001 called Pilotfish, a software and Web dev house. After building over 150 (often really large) Web sites, we realised that the game was changing with the introduction of WordPress, Joomla and that is was getting too easy to build Web sites. So we started concentrating more on the software development side of the business. Our clients came from various industries, but the majority of the development was in the workflow space and we immediately saw the opportunity to build a workflow product. As Microsoft Partners we were really encouraged by the work that they were doing in the Azure space, so it made sense to go the Azure route.

ITWeb: What challenges did you experience during this journey?

Shapiro: We were early adopters of Azure, so getting to know the intricacies of developing for the Cloud was a challenge. In the early days clients would generally ask about two things, speed and security. Speed has never been an issue for us, and with Microsoft opening data centres in South Africa in 2018, that will only get better. There is, however, till a perception that if I can see my hosting server then it is more secure, so convincing clients to host in the cloud, where this isn't possible, has been a challenge.

ITWeb: Have you experience any 'major' benefits associated with moving to the cloud?

Shapiro: Massive benefit, we could not have started out business without the cloud, and not just because it is extremely cost effective, but also having the ability to scale up and down based on client usage and numbers, is an amazing benefit.

ITWeb: If you had to provide a checklist of what you did to make this transformation happen - what would the five key check boxes be?

Shapiro: 1) Choose a business that is suitable for the cloud.

2) Make sure your techies know their stuff because cloud development can be different to on-premises.

3) Have answers ready for your clients, they will definitely ask you about security and speed.

4) Use the cloud to its full potential, it's a great benefit to host in the cloud, but there are also so many add-ons to take advantage of.

5): Do regular checks, it is easy enough to scale up and scale down, but you have to do it! You may be paying for space/services that you are not using.

ITWeb: Why are you presenting at the cloud summit in February, what outcomes/takeaways would you like attendees to leave the event with?

Shapiro: This is a practical presentation of our journey into the cloud, no acronyms or sales pitches, just a hands-on experience of our successful journey into the cloud.

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