Team Insights – Lennart Hansen
Today sees the launch of our team interview series of posts. It’s been a great way to keep in touch in this COVID-19 forced isolation, a great reminder of the depth of talent we have at Clydewire and an insight into how our diverse range of skills help achieve great outcomes for our clients.
We’re conducting these virtually right now but hope to be back in a face to face world sooner rather than later.
It’s apt that we’re talking to Lennart today and about one of the world’s most powerful technologies because as we settle into the realities of ‘Corona-commerce’, businesses are discovering new ways to leverage technologies to ensure survival and a great ‘lane draw’ when the world’s economy comes back on stream.
Our interview today is with Lennart Hansen – one of our two co-founders and a highly experienced AWS expert.
Morning Lennart, thanks for joining me. Today we’re going to talk about you and your AWS expertise, but I thought I’d start by asking about the most positive things to come out of having deployed Clydewire’s remote working policies?
Well to me it’s a personal thing. When we formed Clydewire I built what I thought was the most agile infrastructure and that included support for remote working. Not having foresight of an issue like this, it was really good to see that it worked well – from our phone answering service and call diverts, to group chat and document collaboration. In a way I find our work has become more effective and more structured. For example as we had to adapt to 100% remote working it became clear we needed more structured meetings to ensure the wheels kept turning at the desired speed.
OK thanks, back to the main event. First up, I suppose it would be good to know how you came to be so immersed in technology in the first place?
It started back in 1995 when I was 14 and bought my first computer. I was drawn to the complexity and the wealth of stuff there was to learn about these computer things. I often broke my computers when I was tinkering with them and then I had to learn to fix them again because there was no one else that had a computer, or knew how to use one.
How are you specifically connected to AWS?
As a business Clydewire is heavily leveraging AWS to support our clients. We have built many bespoke environments for applications, high availability infrastructures and Ecommerce clients – many with unique requirements for backups, security and business continuity in general.
On a personal note, I feel very connected to AWS as I helped to install the first AWS racks and networks in the Ireland region when I worked for Amazon in Dublin…literally hands on experience on the cloud infrastructure.
When and why did AWS spin out of Amazon?
From memory, it was in the early 2000s. From an insider perspective the Amazon teams I worked with initially supported the website and sister company sites like IMDB and the launch of Kindle. Amazon started converting their own infrastructure services to cloud computing services and the plan was to migrate the whole of the website to run on AWS. I’m not sure that it does even now, 10 years later! Many of the internal services we had at Amazon were built and grown internally to drive the largest E-commerce websites in the world.
The Amazon website was not built in WordPress or Magento but entirely from scratch.
When I say this is an infrastructure of truly amazing size, I want you to know that I’m not down playing it. The services that were built specifically to support the websites and the 100,000s of servers involved in rendering the content you see when you go to Amazon.com, are now cloud services you have available in the AWS console. Amazon has always been a company capable of adapting to change and this is what happened with AWS. Remember, Amazon started as an online book store. I think it’s a good lesson for all companies – diversify and adapt.
Why are reliable cloud platforms so essential for modern business?
Cloud platforms remove lots of headaches because building reliable infrastructures from the ground up requires money and clever people. All hardware and networks need to be fail safe to mimic the level of reliability associated with a cloud platform.
Businesses can, nowadays, strive to be online all the time. We live in a global society and businesses should be able to reach audiences regardless of time of day. For E-commerce stores or SaaS applications, clients can be shopping 24/7 so avoiding downtime is paramount. Downtime means losing money. It has the same effect as shutting the door to a high street shop – customers can’t get in to buy.
So you need to stay online, and that is why you need reliability.
Cloud can be leveraged for many other things like work load. If you need to crunch and process lots of data you can quickly scale to 100 or more servers that do the necessary work for you. In short, cloud computing offers a number of important benefits simply not available using traditional hardware.
Many Clydewire solutions leverage AWS technology. Can you give us a layman’s guide to why we should trust AWS, particularly from a security perspective?
The main reason to trust AWS is the robustness of the platform. It’s certified by Governments and you safely ensure PCI compliance on this platform as well.
I’m a geek and I know how much effort it takes to build something like this from scratch and how many layers of redundancy are required to keep it running all the time. For example, there are service contracts with fuel companies who are on standby if the power goes in the datacenter, the backup battery power fails and the backup generators run out of fuel!
The services in AWS are designed to fall over when something goes wrong. Self healing and recovery is something that was drilled into us as Amazon employees and something I’ve brought along with me since then. When you have systems that can tolerate failure, then you have true high availability.
What are the other main benefits of AWS technology?
AWS allows companies from StartUps to Enterprises to test out new ideas and products with minimal effort and then scale up as the business grows or the product takes off.
We have an internal application at Clydewire that crunches lots of data. This started as a simple idea and we collected a bit of local data on one server. It worked really well and now the same software runs on 14 dedicated servers and can scale to 150 servers as and when needed for extra workload processing.
What are the main challenges associated with AWS?
Using AWS does require some learning, there are many new concepts in cloud computing and new ways of developing applications to fully utilize the scalability of the cloud. We certify our guys and ensure we share knowledge across the team.
Does the dominance of organisations like Amazon and, as a result, technologies like AWS, pose a price, reliability and/or service quality issue for consumers (business and/or individuals)?
Yes dominance in any market does but we are concerned with using the most robust, flexible and powerful technologies to help build class leading solutions for our customers.
What excites you about AWS technology today and what are your predictions for how AWS technology will influence Clydewire’s future and the future for business as a whole?
I’m excited about the new applications we are developing on AWS at the moment for a few of our clients. These applications are taking advantage of many of the new services available and we, like many other sophisticated organisations, are aiming to have a truly serverless architecture running on AWS cloud as soon as possible.
If AWS could grant you one new feature or improvement to an existing feature, what would it be?
I’d like faster read and write speed on EFS which is their elastic file system for Linux. We use this to share data across multiple servers but it can get congested so not perfect for all workloads.
Finally, given Jeff Bezos’ wealth, where would you be doing your home working from?
If I had his wealth, I would have built a rocket, but mine would have been on the moon at this stage, so that is where I would be, keeping an eye on earth from a distance.
Thanks Lennart, very much appreciate your time. Come back soon to see what the rest of the Clydewire team get up to day today.
For a friendly chat about how Clydewire can help you make the right decision for your business, and on our AWS expertise, give the team a call on 0141 308 1029