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From VMware to AWS and Beyond: The Cloud Computing Story of Ray Siripan

Mon 4 Mar 2024

Ahead of Cloud Expo Europe on 6-7 March at ExCeL London, Techerati spoke with Ray Siripan, Global Enterprise Cloud Architect at TUI, to explore the significant milestones that have shaped his career in cloud computing.

Ray, who is slated to share his insights at Cloud Expo Europe, delved into the transformative years that propelled his professional growth and also mirrored the evolution of cloud technology itself.

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A Leap into the Cloud

Ray Siripan’s entry into cloud computing was a gradual ascension, marked by curiosity and a relentless drive to explore the then-nascent technology. The genesis of this journey represented a fundamental shift in how technology could be leveraged to reshape businesses and industries at large.

Ray’s initial foray into the cloud sphere was rooted in his work with hypervisor technologies, specifically VMware, during the early 2000s. This era, characterised by the burgeoning development of virtualisation, laid the foundation for what would eventually evolve into the comprehensive cloud platforms we know today.

This period was crucial, not only for the technological ecosystem at large but for Ray as an individual. It was a time of hands-on experimentation and learning, where the potential of virtualizing computing resources began to unravel before him. This experience with VMware served as Ray’s introduction to the efficiencies and flexibilities that virtualization offered, sparking an interest that would burgeon into a full-fledged passion for cloud computing.

The leap from working on hypervisor technologies to fully embracing the cloud was a natural progression for Ray. As cloud computing began to gain traction, offering even greater scalability, flexibility, and cost-efficiency than traditional virtualisation, Ray found himself at the forefront of this technological transformation. His early experiences had primed him for this transition, equipping him with a unique perspective on the transformative power of cloud technologies.

The AWS Years

A pivotal moment in Ray’s cloud journey was his tenure at Amazon Web Services (AWS), where he served as Senior Global Cloud Architect.

This role represented a significant chapter in his career that exposed him to the vast expanse of cloud computing’s capabilities. Working with AWS, Ray found himself in an environment where the pace of technological evolution wasn’t just fast — it was exponential.

“I have been privileged to be working with multiple large organisations,” Ray said, highlighting the scale and impact of his work in cloud migration.

At AWS, Ray was at the helm of driving complex cloud transformation projects for global organisations. This role demanded technical acumen and a strategic mindset to navigate the intricacies of large-scale digital transformations. It was here that Ray’s early foundation in hypervisor technologies and his deepening expertise in cloud computing converged, allowing him to lead with confidence and vision.

This process was far from straightforward; it involved navigating the unique challenges and opportunities presented by each organisation’s legacy systems, business processes, and strategic objectives.

Collaboration emerged as a critical theme in Ray’s approach to these transformations.

“I have learned a lot by collaborating effectively with sales and service teams, as well as internal and external partners,” he said. This collaborative ethos was essential, as cloud transformations are inherently cross-functional endeavors that require a cohesive effort across different segments of an organisation and its external partners.

Ray’s journey with AWS was as much about learning as it was about leading. He immersed himself in the intricacies of cloud migrations, gaining insights into the multifaceted nature of cloud technology and its application across various industries. This period was a deep dive into the tangible and intangible aspects of cloud computing, from the technical specifics of cloud architectures to the strategic considerations of cloud adoption.

“I adore the quality of the cloud that we can use and consume today,” Ray said, encapsulating his appreciation for the cloud’s potential to revolutionise how organisations operate, innovate, and deliver value to their customers.

Championing Cloud Transformations at TUI

The chapter of Ray Siripan’s career at TUI, a leading travel company, epitomised a significant leap in his professional journey, driving cloud transformations on a global scale.

This period involved steering TUI through the intricacies of cloud adoption, amidst the diverse challenges posed by a sprawling multinational landscape.

In 2021, Ray was tasked with not just transitioning the company’s IT infrastructure to the cloud but also nurturing a cultural change across 12 countries.

“The transformation is not just one project, but it’s working with 12 countries across Europe,” Ray said.

Ray’s needed to weave together disparate teams, harmonise differing work cultures, and align them towards a unified vision of cloud adoption. It was an exercise in diplomacy, requiring a nuanced understanding of how to foster collaboration and consensus across varied organisational landscapes.

Ray was acutely aware of overcoming resistance to change, recognising that the success of the initiative depended significantly on the people driving it.

“We need to understand that people do not like change,” Ray observed, highlighting the necessity of easing team members into the new cloud paradigm gently. This involved open dialogues, addressing concerns, and, most importantly, understanding where each individual was on their journey to embracing the cloud.

A critical aspect of cultivating a culture of adaptability and growth was encouraging experimentation. Ray championed a fail-fast, fail-cheap approach, urging his teams to embrace trial and error as a path to innovation. This mindset was pivotal in creating an environment where creativity and innovation was celebrated.

Achieving Cloud Migration

Central to the success of TUI’s cloud transformation was the establishment of guiding principles and guardrails. Ray understood the importance of creating a cohesive framework that would serve as the North Star for the entire initiative.

One such principle was the decision to consolidate around a single cloud provider, streamlining the transformation process and ensuring a focused approach to scaling and modernising TUI’s applications. This decision underscored the importance of simplicity and clarity in driving large-scale digital transformations, enabling TUI to harness the full potential of cloud technology more efficiently.

“We successfully migrated and modernised our applications in two years … and also impressively 80% increases in the delivery of the scalability,” said Ray.

The migration enhanced TUI’s operational efficiency and significantly boosted its ability to scale, a critical factor in the highly dynamic travel industry.

The transformation enabled TUI to deliver new features to production at an unprecedented pace.

“In 2023, we have delivered 250,000 new features into production,” said Ray.

At the heart of the transformation was a focus on people. Ray understood that technological change is inextricably linked to human factors — from the engineers and developers executing the migration to the end-users experiencing the benefits.

“People’s perspective is the key for us,” Ray reflects, highlighting the emphasis on training, upskilling, and aligning the workforce with the new cloud-centric operational paradigm.

This aspect of the transformation was crucial in ensuring the technical success of the migration and securing buy-in and enthusiasm from the broader organisational community. By investing in people, Ray ensured that TUI’s cloud journey was sustainable, scalable, and positioned for continuous innovation.

As Ray prepares to share his wealth of experience at Cloud Expo Europe, his journey at TUI encapsulates a broader narrative about the transformative potential of cloud technology — not just in redefining IT infrastructures but in reshaping organizational cultures and empowering people to innovate and excel in the digital era.

Embracing the Cloud

For Ray, the cloud is no longer an emerging technology but a fundamental aspect of modern IT infrastructure.

“Cloud is not new, and it’s not going to go away,” he asserted, highlighting the permanence and indispensability of cloud computing in today’s digital landscape.

The transition to cloud platforms has become a critical step for organisations seeking agility, efficiency, and competitive advantage.

Looking ahead, Ray envisioned a future where cloud computing seamlessly integrates with other emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the Internet of Things. This convergence is set to unlock new capabilities and opportunities, enabling businesses to leverage vast amounts of data, enhance decision-making processes, and create personalised customer experiences.

As cloud platforms become increasingly central to organisational operations, Ray highlighted the growing importance of cloud security and compliance. The future of cloud computing will demand robust security frameworks and practices to protect sensitive data and ensure regulatory compliance.

Another critical aspect of the future of cloud computing, as seen through Ray’s lens, is its potential to drive sustainability. Cloud platforms offer the unique opportunity to optimise resource utilisation and reduce the environmental impact of IT operations.

Ray also emphasised the importance of cultivating a skilled workforce equipped to navigate the complexities of cloud computing. As cloud technologies evolve, so too must the skills and knowledge of those who design, implement, and manage cloud systems.

Ultimately, Ray Siripan’s vision for the future of cloud computing is one of collaborative innovation. By fostering partnerships between cloud providers, businesses, and the broader tech community, Ray believes that the cloud can serve as a catalyst for transformative change.

His anticipation of Cloud Expo Europe as a platform for sharing insights and fostering dialogue underscores the value of collaboration in driving the cloud agenda forward.

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