Transitioning to the Cloud Safely with Concourse Labs

In 2006, a little over a decade before co-founding Concourse Labs—a company that helps businesses manage the cloud risk associated with digital transformation through automated cloud governance—CEO Don Duet was speaking at a conference in Silicon Valley about what Goldman Sachs, his employer at the time, was doing to drive innovation in their infrastructure stack. “I went and gave my pitch about what we’re doing at Goldman,” says Duet. “And then the person who came on right after me was Werner Vogels, and he talked about Amazon and what they were doing and really brought up this word of ‘the cloud.’ So I had the unfortunate pleasure of having to be in front of Werner, who did a great job in his presentation.”

Upstaged or not, Duet recognized the future when he saw it. But even in 2017, with a decade of experience in cloud technology under their belts, Duet and the Concourse team were aware that asking enterprises to trust a public cloud with their private information might seem scary. “I think the first and most predominant concerns were around security and risk and governance,” says Scott Crenshaw, President and COO of Concourse Labs, “because cloud is so new and the old tools and procedures and even mindsets don’t really work in cloud.”

The team at Concourse knew that companies needed to operate in cloud in order to remain relevant, drive innovation, and create faster. This meant that a paradigm shift was needed. “Fundamentally, if you can’t see risk, then you can’t manage risk,” explains Crenshaw. “And so we brought a new paradigm to the world to let cloud users see their risk and manage their risk and control their risk. And it required a new way of thinking, it required new levels of automation, it required developing a lot of new technology, but it works for cloud.”

Luckily, Concourse’s partnership with Amazon began early. “We built all of our products on AWS, so we have leveraged AWS as our core platform for creating the services that we’re providing for customers through our SAS-delivered approach,” says Don Duet, Concourse’s CEO and co-founder.

The partnership has also helped them solve many foundational issues, innovate faster, and bring in new technology more quickly. The alliance allows Concourse to think about the next wave of risk management, governance, and visibility, as well as assuage any security concerns that enterprises might have. “As organizations started to realize that the cloud providers such as Amazon were actually really great at security, they also began to realize that they themselves had a very significant role to play in how secure their applications and data would be in cloud,” explains Crenshaw, adding that Amazon’s influence, market reach, resources, and guidance have also been pivotal to Concourse’s success.

The Concourse team acknowledges that both enterprises and startups looking into transitioning to the cloud will face challenges. While a startup is more likely to build in the cloud model first, an established enterprise will have to focus on moving their legacy applications both rapidly and safely, so as to avoid a data breach. “They don’t have to boil the ocean and create a whole new system before they move to cloud,” says Crenshaw, adding that companies need to put tools in place to give them visibility, as well as a system to record their cloud usage and risk. “They need to start to integrate into their CI/CD pipelines automatic review of their application releases before they get pushed into production. And then they need to put continuous monitoring and control into their operational cloud, so they can spot problems before they’re exploited.” This system will give them greater visibility and control, increase security, and accelerate the delivery of benefits.

The pandemic, which brought a sharp rise in the number of employees working at home worldwide, has also increased the need for smooth cloud access. “Cloud adoption has become the de facto path that every company is taking now,” says Crenshaw, adding that transitioning has been prevented in the past by taboos, institutional inertia, and various political dynamics.

Even for smaller companies who might not need this technology yet, Duet and Crenshaw believe it will be applicable in the future. “As they grow and they become more technologically complex, these types of problems become even more acute,” explains Duet. Concourse allows these enterprises to scale effectively with a solid foundation already in place. “We create the capabilities for customers that use our product to be able to go into that brave new world, knowing that they have a very strong architecture and foundational basis to be driving their business as they consume even more public cloud.”

Originally posted to the AWS Startups Blog on 3.16.2021 available here.

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Learn more about one policy architecture and Concourse Labs.