New Relic EMEA CTO: ‘Developers are changing the tech game’

8 Apr 2022

Greg Ouillon. Image: New Relic

New Relic’s CTO for EMEA discusses how tech companies can better facilitate developers and security teams.

Greg Ouillon is the chief technology officer for EMEA at California-based tech company New Relic, having joined in 2019. In his role, Ouillon acts as a liaison between the customer and the organisation.

Prior to joining New Relic, Ouillon held several senior leadership roles, with more than a decade of experience at Sita, an IT provider for the air transport industry.

‘The pandemic has accelerated transformation by five years’

What are some of the biggest challenges you’re facing in the current IT landscape?

Right now, we are seeing challenges in the IT landscape across two levels: the business level and the technology level. Covid-19 has rocked the ship in the sense of how organisations operate and has shed a crude light on these imperatives and challenges.

The pandemic has accelerated transformation by five years as businesses have had to swiftly adapt and scale in the face of unprecedented global disruption.

More than ever, digital teams need to increase their innovation velocity and agility to be able to deal with faster competition and global disruptions. They need to do this while fully mastering uptime, reliability and performance, as the foundations for great customer experience and businesses performance.

And of course, they need to manage the scalability of their architectures and teams to meet a step increase in demand but improve efficiency, unit costs and productivity.

To cope with these imperatives, IT leaders and their teams are taking a four-pronged approach:

  • They are adopting a cloud-based approach that suits their needs to get scale and agility
  • They modernise their software architectures to make them more modular and evolutive, moving to microservices and containers as new design patterns
  • They also adopt DevOps practices to scale their teams and accelerate their innovation cycle with fewer incidents, empowering developers to own their code, including in production
  • Businesses are adopting and implementing observability, which helps their developers and engineers to turn telemetry data into real-time actionable insights; additionally, it helps to manage their architecture as they build, deploy and run great software
What are your thoughts on digital transformation?

There is no doubt that what we’re seeing is the acceleration of digital transformation post-pandemic across technology and business. We are almost in a post-cloud phase, where cloud is a given and where businesses deploy software at all touchpoints of the business and the customer, including at the edge again.

This means that the worlds of digital and physical are blending, for example with wearables or digital screens in retail shops, or manufacturing robots being piloted by the cloud and mobility services connecting cars and drivers.

Our customers who are moving forward and transforming want to be able to deploy software on any cloud, on any edge, on premise and at speed. This means they must be able to master performance of their stack across these complex end-to-end infrastructures, software and user experience.

The way we tackle these problems is by making sure we can help our customers to monitor and observe their entire digital stack wherever it runs, whenever it migrates and however it modernises.

What are your thoughts on how sustainability can be addressed from an IT perspective?

Sustainability is indeed a key trend for many businesses at the moment, especially following on from events like COP26. In EMEA, we are seeing a strong appetite for green tech and frugal IT and looking for ways to reduce carbon emissions and run more sustainable technologies.

We’ve seen several customers migrating to the cloud from data centres to better utilise resources and leverage partners who rely on greener energy sources at the same time.

Businesses need to find partners that can deliver highly optimised solutions that help them to better use resources in shared infrastructures. This is also why relying on SaaS partners with clear ESG policies is a good option.

It is also clear that a lot of IT infrastructure deployed today is still underutilised and, in many respects, way oversized, whether on-premise or in the cloud.

We see many businesses that use a huge number of resources unnecessarily. These businesses could get the same performance and same user experience for customers while consuming much less and proactively resizing and scaling resources.

What big tech trends do you believe are changing the world?

Technology is advancing fast in many domains, but it is developers that are changing the game right now. Developers have been able to build incredible software and bring us solutions to very complex real-life problems if only provided with the right tool and environments.

With the proper adoption of DevOps practices, developers can build software faster, deploy more frequently and reliably.

Yet, it is crucial that developers can make the best decisions informed with high-quality data and insights: how to plan the right features that maximise business impact, how to increase the success rate of builds and deployments to improve productivity and velocity, how to detect and resolve issues faster to keep customers delighted and business open.

This is why we’re so excited about the fast adoption of observability. Providing developers and engineers with real-time telemetry data and observability means they can build better software and sustain better performance for the whole business operation.

Another powerful trend we continue to see is that more and more companies are leveraging AI and machine learning as part of their digital stack, eg: building e-commerce recommendation engines, supporting customers with chatbots, optimising complex processes like predictive maintenance managing industrial production sites and supply chains.

AI and machine learning has reached production environments at scale. Logically, we are now seeing rising challenges with managing the performance and quality of these technologies, handling the data required to train the machine learning models, training the models for accuracy without drifting or bias, ensuring the models deliver the required performance and reliability in production. Observability is now addressing this.

How can we address the security challenges currently facing your industry?

What we see today is the industry addressing security with an adversarial approach. We have security teams on one side and then engineers and developers on the other side.

Most of today’s tools bring up floods of security warnings, either at a development or deployment stage. This causes friction between developers, engineers and security teams.

Security teams want to minimise security risk and developers feel these security tools slow them down as they generate a lot of noise. This can be distracting for developers when they have a high volume of work to complete.

The future is all about detecting security risks at any stage of the development life cycle and understanding how best to prioritise them using a risk ranking strategy.

Algorithms can hence bring forward the most important issues to the developer. This is key when trying to make sure that the developer can manage security risks most effectively and efficiently, doing their best work as well as dealing with security issues, without unnecessary toil and fatigue.

If the industry moves this way, then developers will be able to partner more efficiently with security teams and the processes they mandate. This means teams can fully adopt security management in their work practices and culture.

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