Author: Scott Kinka

The Bridge Podcast with Scott Kinka - Alvaro Gonzalez ExpedientOn this episode of The Bridge, I’m joined by Alvaro Gonalez, AVP of Alliances and Marketing Strategy at Expedient. We’re talking about business continuity and disaster recovery, and so much more.

Expedient is a cloud and data center infrastructure as a service (IaaS) provider with local operations in cities across the U.S. Ranked as one of the Top 3 managed services providers worldwide on Channel Futures’​ MSP 501 list, Expedient’s converged solutions enable clients to focus on strategic business innovation, while the Expedient team handles the operation of the information technology needed to support it.

During our conversation, we discussed VDI having its day in hybrid work, running generative AI in content creation, Expedient’s long-standing focus on business continuity and disaster recovery, and why planning for the unplanned is necessary.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Alvaro’s new role at Expedient as the VP of Alliances and Market Strategy, focusing on bridging technical, marketing, and sales aspects of the business.
  • The tendency in the tech industry to focus on new and shiny technologies rather than solving actual problems.
  • The challenge of balancing being seen as an expert with focusing on customer needs.
  • How Expedient’s VDI offering is driven by customer demand and caters to the hybrid work environment.
  • The concept of hybrid work and the shift it brought to remote work and office dynamics.
  • The impact of significant events on driving rapid technological change and adaptation.
  • The importance of being exceptional at securing and managing endpoints due to the shift to hybrid work.
  • The value of solving problems at scale and adopting strategies over tactics is highlighted.
  • The impact of the pandemic on unplanned changes, the increased security risks and vulnerabilities during the pandemic, and the importance of recovery plans and preparation.
  • The significance of micro-segmentation, including using tools like ColorTokens, for improving security across environments is discussed.
  • The importance of incremental improvements and strategies in making a big difference in cybersecurity.
  • Adapting and evolving due to various factors, including the pandemic and emerging practices like edge computing and end-user computing.
  • The importance of solving challenges related to downtime, control, and telemetry in manufacturing.
  • Microsoft’s role in Expedient’s ecosystem, where they provide support for Microsoft products like licensing, Microsoft 365, and Azure without directly reselling them.
  • Predictions for the next 12 to 18 months.

The Bridge Podcast with Scott Kinka - Alvaro Gonzalez ExpedientABOUT ALVARO GONZALEZ

Alvaro is an adventurous learner and hunter of excellence. After a first career in higher education, technology and problem solving in business are his focus.
 
First in the Cable MSO/IP world, then adding Telco, Data Center, MPLS and SIP, Cellular Network gear and remote site monitoring, Supply chain, BPO and now Cloud, he is proud of his record of using where he’s been to enrich his approach to the present set of problems faced by his employers and customers alike.

Alvaro’s academic experience was an excellent training in both how and why to be exacting in gathering data about a problem, organizing it in ways that illuminate solutions, and presenting the solutions effectively to people with different levels of technical and business expertise.

He gets great satisfaction from continuing to learn and applying his experience and fascination with improvement to clients’ needs and goals.

CONTACT ALVARO

Web. https://expedient.com/

LinkedIn. https://www.linkedin.com/in/alvaro-gonzalez-54602a5/

Twitter. https://twitter.com/alvarocinci

Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/alvaro.gonzalez.39395/

 

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Scott Kinka:

Welcome to the Bridge. My guest on this episode is Alvaro Gonzalez. He is the AVP of Alliances and Market Strategy for Expedient, a fresh AVP of Alliances and Market Strategy at Expedient.

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

Yeah, absolutely right.

 

Scott Kinka:

How long has it been?

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

This is week six of my new role. I think soon they’re gonna start to expect me to do something.

 

Scott Kinka:

We’re gonna test you in a minute, so don’t worry about that. I’m gonna ask for the pitch and we’re gonna send it to the marketing department to make sure you got it. What does the AVP of Alliances and Market Strategy do at Expedient?

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

So, this is a new role that they created actually, and I am working with different parts of the business, kind of to be the clutch between our technical side of the house, our marketing side of the house, and our sales side of the house, because I’ve done all of those functions, so that we can go and just find ways to do better work for our customers, right? To translate technical capabilities into the results that the customers are after, and help our sellers to kind of like, see the pattern earlier, to recognize the sorts of things that are gonna be useful to everybody to get the job done. I kind of tell people I’m like Tom Hayden in the Godfather and kind of the conciliary to a bunch of different parts of the business.

 

Scott Kinka:

Conciliary. I like that. Yeah. That’s a good way of looking at it. And so I should assume then that effectively the relationship, I mean, make no secret about it, that the companies that we bring onto the Bridge are partners of Bridgepoint technology. So that sort of governed in your pitch now, I guess, is the way for me to think about it.

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

Yeah, absolutely. There’s a channel team that does this, it kind of works with that. I work with them to, again, to do all this kind of strategy, problem solving sort of work.

 

Scott Kinka:

Fantastic. And, okay, so six weeks in, you’re sitting there in Dayton, Ohio.

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

Yeah, correct.

 

Scott Kinka:

Alright. How long have you been an Ohioan?

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

So well, I grew up here, but my wife and I moved to the area in 1999 when I was in a different profession than I’m in now for three years. But then we kinda put down roots and never moved away, so.

 

Scott Kinka:

Fantastic. And that’s not where Expedient is headquartered.

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

No, headquarters is in Pittsburgh, which for a Bengals guy is not the easiest thing to deal with. But,

 

Scott Kinka:

I can imagine. We have quite a bit of NFL banter on the pod here. I was, as an Eagles fan, forced to have an episode with a Kansas City fan the week before the Super Bowl. Needless to say, my prediction didn’t come true. So that happens. Show us the cup, show us the cup, show the Pittsburgh fans the cup. Just do it.

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

No, there we go. That’s true.

 

Scott Kinka:

I love everything about that. Wear your stripes. Literally and figuratively. No, I appreciate that. So, I mean, before we get into the pod, know that we certainly will do a lot of tech talk, and we’re gonna obviously give you an opportunity to tell us a little bit more about Expedient, but just take a step back. Tell us more. You and your wife moved to Cincinnati, but give me the story, you personally, kids, what you like to do. Read us something back.

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

Yeah. So, people are always surprised to find out that actually this is a, I guess a second career for me, more or less. I was a college professor. I did a doctorate in Spanish language and literature before doing all of this. And so moved to the area for that. Once I realized though, that kind of being poor wasn’t my favorite thing in the world. I got into the technology stuff. I was always super into the tech stuff. But I am blessed to have my wife we’re coming up on 28 years together, and two kids. My daughter just graduated from high school, turned 18 and had her first fender bender wreck this week. So like, lots of achievements.

 

Scott Kinka:

It’s a rite of passage.

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

It’s a right of passage. I had black hair.

 

Scott Kinka:

Is she the oldest, the one that just graduated?

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

She’s the oldest, yeah.

 

Scott Kinka:

Yeah, yeah. Got it. And what’s next for her?

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

Loyola Chicago. She’s gonna go study environmental science and biochem.

 

Scott Kinka:

So she’s not smart at all then?

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

No. And she gets it from her mother.

 

Scott Kinka:

Wow, that’s amazing. Yeah. Okay, so, you’re certainly not done with parenthood, but it’s a different kind of parenthood. You’re at Expedient and six weeks in. So yeah, let’s hit you with the, no before I go there, hang on, let me ask you just a little bit of something personal. Maybe we can dig back to it. We usually ask this at the end of the episode. I’m gonna ask it upfront. What are you reading right now? Is there something in business or fiction or something along those lines that’s caught your attention?

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

So, I’m the ultra nerdiest person you’re ever gonna meet. I have two books going right now. Okay. One of ’em, because I’m a recovering academic, I tell people, right? I’m reading Grit, the Angela Duckworth book with my daughter. We’re doing a chapter a day, we talk about it every night. ‘What did you read today?’ And then we just recently did an event with David Linthicum, who I think is a super fascinating guy. Was awesome to get to meet him. I’m reading his new book An Insider’s Guide to Cloud Computing.

 

Scott Kinka:

Now that’s kinda wild. Is it a recently penned book?

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

Yeah, I think it was just published in April of this year.

 

Scott Kinka:

Okay. Yeah. What makes it so interesting? I mean, there’s so many books about clouds. Is there any part of the approach that is kind of peaking your attention?

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

Yeah, the thing about it is that there’s so many people who I think want to come at this from a tech first perspective. Like, oh, you should be doing every shiny object that’s out there because it’s cool. And other people who are like, whoa, you should be repatriating everything, because yeah, whatever. And he’s been doing this stuff for a long time. He’s the lead cloud strategy guy for Deloitte, among other things. And so he’s kind of right in the middle. He kind of has arguments about this is how you do decision making, this is how you really do strategy. And that’s like, my super fascination actually is the problem solving and the strategy, the outcome, not the input. And that’s why I’m a pretty big fan of what’s in this book. And like this the kind of work he does. It’s about the outputs. It’s not about the inputs, it’s about the customer, I guess you’d say. Not about the tech, which I think is fantastic.

 

Scott Kinka:

We talked quite a bit on the podcast with a lot of our guests about, I love, by the way, I love that you said shiny objects. It was in my teaser on the last episode, I was talking about let’s not be so focused on shiny balls. Let’s be focused on customers. We have such a tendency in this industry to like, get obsessed with the tech. Sometimes to the detriment of actually solving a problem. Fair assessment. How do you feel about that statement?

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

Yeah, I mean, the thing of it is, and like I know this from my prior career, like in higher ed too. Like, listen, people make you, if your identity is, you’re supposed to be an expert, the way that you exert and you show expertise is you get into all the stuff that is new, all the stuff that’s different as opposed to focusing on all the stuff. Right? I think it’s sometimes harder to be cool talking about what’s true as opposed to what’s new. But I’ve been a seller and everything in that, right? I started in cable, I did telco, I did colo, I did cloud, I did consulting for a while. And that’s the trap you fall into. People want you to be an expert. And how do you become an expert? You talk about the stuff that’s new. It’s a trap, right?

 

Scott Kinka:

I get it. It’s completely a trap. And that was a hot take. I can see our producer Gene scribbling something down in the background.

An Adaptive Approach to Infrastructure: From Colo to Cloud and Beyond

 

Scott Kinka:

That’s gonna end up in the marketing of this episode at some point, I’m sure. Alright, now it’s test time. Are you ready? Okay, here we go. So tell us about Expedient, and the marketing department’s watching after six weeks. Let’s see how you do.

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

Yeah, no, absolutely. So Expedient, for those of you who don’t know us very well, is a colo cloud and services company that operates 14 facilities in 10 cities from, essentially, Phoenix to Boston. We have real deep expertise in VMware Powered Clouds, but with Nutanix on board as well. We have real deep expertise in actually kind of like a number of different, what some people find kind of niche technologies along the way. But like, one of the things that’s so different and interesting about Expedient is that it’s a company of practitioners all the way up to the CEO, so that we have a very nice, kind of integrated set of capabilities around data centers and just server applications. Edge is a big thing for us right now that lets us get involved in difficult customer problems and help them to get to simplicity, help them to focus on the things that actually ring the cash register for them as opposed to worrying about applications, data protection, dr, all of these things, right? It’s like other companies in the industry, some of which I’ve worked for, but it’s also different in that all kinds of people here have strategy titles. And it turns out it’s because this is a company profoundly invested in problem solving and strategy, which is a very fun place to be.

 

Scott Kinka:

Yeah. Sounds like some of the lessons that you like in the book that we were just discussing, right? 

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

Absolutely right. Yeah, yeah.

 

Scott Kinka:

Right tool for the right job kind of thing. So is it the outcomes based, focused across a broader set of capabilities that you find to really sort of be the superpower, right? You’ve got all the tools, but it’s not so much about the tools, it’s about the fact that you have all of them and you’re, I like what you said, practitioner focused, right? Kind of building customized solutions on a customer by customer basis.

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

So yeah. Lemme give you an example of what some of the tools are. For example, one that’s different here is part of all of our customer facing stuff is based on Morpheus, as one of the tools that we use that allows us to aggregate information about multiple different environments, whether we provide them or not. Think VMware, Azure, GCP, all of this stuff can all be aggregated to be seen into this so that you can actually have it. Estate that you didn’t get from Expedient that can be brought into monitoring and visibility and governance, things like that, that I think that it’s easy for lots of providers who grew up in the space to build out stuff within the mode, right? Like all of the tool sets that are related to only the things that you were doing here. We started kind of from the outcomes from the customer first, and then maybe we’ll provide the infrastructure. Sometimes they will have things they didn’t buy from us, but we’re gonna make it easier to do better, to be faster, to adapt, to operate your business well and to take away silos as opposed to imposing them on people. Stuff like that I think is super attractive and a learning curve for new people here like me.

 

Scott Kinka:

Yeah, completely. I mean, I also took a look at your website again this morning just to refresh some of the things that I already knew and I found a couple interesting things popped off the page for me. Let me just read ’em back to you and I’m just curious what your thoughts are. One was VDI. I mean, generally that was a market a lot of people ran into. It’s a market. I have some intimate knowledge of it, and this giant universe of VDI and DAS players, right? Sort of got really skinny really fast because it’s hard. I mean, it is just end user computing. All the complexity in server computing is quadrupled in end user computing in a lot of ways. And it’s hard to be an infrastructure provider that’s providing an end user focused product. I found that unique. You mentioned VMware. Is that sort of part of that whole VMware, is that your focus? Tell me a little bit more about the VDI product.

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

Yeah, so this is one of those things actually, and again, like lots of companies talk about being customer led. We probably in 2020 were not necessarily very deeply invested in end user computers at all, but the customers that we have and the market that was out there actually brought to us this desire to say, gosh, we love the experience we get from Expedient and other things. How about you do this? And so that was really the genesis of us getting into that business so that we could say again, and it’s my version really of like a corporate focus, but is to say you take complexity away. You let people realize the benefit of the money that they’re spending. That’s how the VDI focus really started to come in there.

 

Scott Kinka:

So like, and that’s hybrid work. I mean, I think you said 2020. That’s interesting. I mean that it’s hybrid work focused, right? I mean, I’ve said to many of our customers, and I feel like the sort of advent of true hybrid work.I mean, let’s face it, most businesses had, I don’t know, you’ve got a DR business, which I think this is probably pertinent in as well, which we’ll come back to, but, most businesses were probably positioned for about 20% of their workforce being remote at any given time, pre pandemic. And then post pandemic, hybrid work to me means you’re a hundred percent remote and a hundred percent in the office. You’re sort of building two IT stances or having to do that right on a go forward basis. So the VDI stance for you guys is sort of based around hybrid work. I think it sounds like a customer led.

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

Absolutely. Yeah. It’s a rabbit hole that we don’t have to go down, but I’ll tell you the thing that, like 2020 and the pandemic and all of this stuff driving change. My wife works for an investment bank and they went from hybrid work, work from remote is not a thing at all, to 15 to 20,000 employees all working remotely in like a seven day period. It was utterly insane. Crazy what they managed to do. And lots of bumps along the way, lots of people went into all of that and had unplanned change, which had like lots of downstream consequences, but still in all the statistics that you see, and we saw it like in our basement here at home with my wife and my kids were all working home during that period of time. Like, you can accelerate years of change into a really short period of time if the or else is big enough.

 

Scott Kinka:

Yeah. I mean, there needs to be that sort of impending moment in some of these cases. I recently did a talk with Frost and Sullivan where we had a think tank conversation and we were back and forth on the difference between evolution and revolution in technology. And I think a lot of what we’re dealing with is revolution just because there was this gigantic impending event. You mentioned Morpheus earlier, and of course my brain immediately went to the Matrix, right? I’m fascinated with the end user computing conversation, which I know is just a portion of what it is that you guys do. But one closing thought, I just say all the time, that this is sort of the blue pill, red pill moment for end user computing, right?

Navigating the Changing Landscape of Endpoint Security and Disaster Recovery

 

Scott Kinka:

Because you’ve basically gotta decide whether you’re gonna be exceptional at securing at the end point, as opposed to securing at the network perimeter, right? We send people home and you can paper over a lot of bad policies when the only time you turned on PCs was when they were in the office. But now you’re in this mode of like, I’ve gotta be really good at everything and managing endpoints, or it’s the throw your hands up and say it moment, right? And you go VDI or you go DAS, and you go that route. I’m imagining, you guys very prescriptively say VDI as a service. So it’s really an infrastructure product for you, as opposed to sort of selling it on a seat by seat basis. You’re basically selling it as VDI infrastructure along with the rest of your VMware stack. Is that a fair way for me to think about it?

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

Yeah, that’s correct. I mean, I think that problems that get solved at scale are the ones that are important. Those are the ones that are valuable. So yeah, it’s really something that would be a strategy and not a tactic, I guess I would say. Not doing onesie, twosy kind of stuff because that’s just not generally a good place for the business to be really.

 

Scott Kinka:

Well, the other thing that I think most of us didn’t think too much about before the advent of hybrid work, right? Or at least the lack of importance of the office’s. DR. I mean, that’s another thing that popped up on the page as I was going through the site this morning. You guys are Gartner recognized on the DR side. Is that a kind of post pandemic focus or was that always sort of in the DNA and tell us a little bit more about that product line for you guys.

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

Yeah, so I mean, from a focus perspective, no, that was there all along. Like actually one of the companies that it’s been over 10 years ago that was ingested or acquired, I guess to build Expedient was Enframe, that had already pretty good expertise in that. And that’s years and years ago. But the work that we’ve done there, the trick about it, is lots of people get into DR and they have pretty narrowly focused and not rapidly changing capabilities. Here, we do tons of work in, for example, the Zerto infrastructure business. We do tons of work though in other platforms as well, the VMware flavor, VCDA, we do lots of really great work with Cohesity around that, where again, for lots of people, like there’s a promise that you can make about tiered DR. So that your high value applications, you treat more, you treat hot better, shorter RTOs, RPOs, and your lower stuff isn’t so much so that you shape up cost. And I think that there are many caps, many companies maybe, that are not as accomplished in delivering on that track as we are to be able to tier together, a 15 minute window, with an hour window, with a four hour window. And that’s something that for us that has been real ongoing around that. I’ll tell you though, the thing about, and it ties a couple of these points together, actually, the pandemic thing and I touched on unplanned change, unplanned change driving DR and this was something that changed a number of things for us, like for others as well, is, people had to do things quickly.  And what it means is you don’t necessarily get to plan stuff. Well, what you saw was a huge upswing in like ransomware or in unintended consequences that drove people to use or not buy it alone, right. But to use it a heck of a lot more because buying it is one thing, but using it, that was a thing that was really up during the pandemic period of time. Again, when you gotta change everything quickly, when you gotta get into really untested waters, your ability, your exposure, I guess, to making mistakes goes up, that was the case for all kinds of people. It was a great opportunity for us to do well by doing good. To be there for people to execute on it and to add more capabilities like getting some immutability, getting 3, 2, 1 backup schemes and that sort of thing in place to help people deal with all of that unexpected, unplanned change.

 

Scott Kinka:

Yeah. And look, in a lot of ways, I think we all got a little bit of a pass during the pandemic. You scrambled. And so we all knew we were creating, we were expanding and opening frankly, the security risks into the business, but you had to operate right. It’s funny, I mean, when we think about security, there’s always this, like, you talk about compliance and you talk about, I talk to customers all the time, and I’m like, listen, compliancy doesn’t imply that there’s any expectation of you being perfect. There’s only an expectation in compliance that you have a plan, that you can execute on a plan and that you can recover from the inevitable event. I mean, the really well focused bad actor is gonna find a way in. The question is, are you prepared to recover when you get there? Particularly, as I said, we’ve sort of, well, you said you sort of spread out in a very undisciplined fashion just to get to work in 2020. And we’re still hardening, I guess, in a lot of ways. Right?

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

I’ll tell you something. We are seeing more people taking up microseg, for example. Like all of these things that used to seem like a pretty good idea, but they were a little academic and now microsegmentation across different things. So it’s not just a VMware thing. Like we work with a company, ColorTokens, that is really cool because it takes this ability to do something so elementary really, but as, not just north south, but east west stuff in your environment and do it across, not just a VMware thing. It’s like sometimes it’s kaizen, like little incremental improvements that you make can make such a big difference.

 

Scott Kinka:

Amazing. And I mean these were all things that some of them came from the pandemic. Some of them liked edge com or end user computing. Some of it, maybe became more in practice like the DR practice.

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

Yep.

Revolutionizing Edge Infrastructure

 

Scott Kinka:

Are there other product areas that are sort of a new sort of genesis from the changing way we work that have become a lot of focus for you and the Expedient team?

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

There’s one that I’m personally really excited about, and as I’m gearing up to be out now and talking with people, it’s a big part of my role, but, you talk about the rate of change of things and the pandemic, hybrid work, all this was part of it. We have gotten to the point where we have rolled out, it went GA in March. This edge offering that we are doing allows people to take beyond. Edge, for a lot of people is like, oh, it’s at a data center that is 30 miles away. It’s close. It’s not, but like, we’re on the edge of the edge in that we’re now able to locate infrastructure on customer premises, and we’re doing it in it’s form factor. It’s kind of wild. It could actually fit into the overhead bin on an airplane. like you just put it in there. It’s a ruggedized chassis. They can scale out four nodes at a time that you can put on a shop floor because it is temperature resistant, power conditioning, cost effective, all this stuff. And so for people who are doing manufacturing roles where you have fewer head counts, you have more pressure on the business to do more with less, how are you gonna run your savagely expensive industrial equipment that’s controlled by compute stuff, if you do it remotely, network takes you down and you can have massive issues of costs, runaway costs that you can’t produce against. This is something, this edge thing, that we’re having really big success with right now, because we can help you with the FTEs to have people on site or the downtime of getting people to there to deal with this stuff, or locations where you don’t have environmentals to handle this, but you want to aggregate and act on data that’s local. This edge thing for us is a really big thing that I’m very excited about because again, I told you like, I’m super nerdy, and really fascinated with problem solving strategy. And like, how do you take limited resources and get to a big payoff for the use of them? And this is a really great one that’s solving dirty, ugly, intractable problems that people have that could include VDI on-prem, which we can do, and data protection on-prem, which we can do. And like all the other production workloads downstream from it. Like, I think you maybe you could tell where my propeller head has been.

 

Scott Kinka:

Yeah, yeah. You’re getting giddy about it and I dig it. And, like, to me, I think the big difference is interesting, right? And I love that you said, I want to harken back to this because we’ve had some episodes where this edge concept is becoming I shouldn’t say it’s a new concept, right? We just name things differently when we need them more, right? So I think that’s kind of where edges come from. But in a lot of ways when people think edge, they’re thinking about moving computing for certain elements closer, then core cloud.

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

Yep.

 

Scott Kinka:

Okay, I get that. You’ve taken it a step further though, I think is the way for me to think about it, right? Generally speaking, you think edge and you go, I think you use the 30 miles away kind of model. Bring it to a data center that’s closer, right? And yes, I’m still operating at WAN speed, but I’ve got mega controllable latency. So that’s certainly a plus up by getting a program. But what you’re saying is you’re taking edge all the way to the edge with sort of a containerized, I’m using the phrase the wrong way, physically containerized, not just logically containerized compute environment that’s sort of in a suitcase, right? I think, what was the word you used earlier on our pre-call? I think you said ruggedized.

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

Yeah, right. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So it could be around vibrating stuff. Exactly.

 

Scott Kinka:

No spinning media. You’re not worried about it breaking down. Like you could pop it up on a desk.

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

Yep, yep, yep.

 

Scott Kinka:

That’s really interesting. And you said March, this rolled out. It’s June when we’re recording this, probably July when we drop. It’s only a couple months, but going well, so far.

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

Very well. Very well. Very well. Absolutely. We’ve had IOT applications like OCS and like it’s in because you think about the use case right now. I was just talking with a customer and a partner who worked together to solve a problem they had. I got it up on my wall here ’cause I’ve been thinking about it, 12 remote locations in all kinds of different places outside of their core network where they have millions and millions of dollars of production equipment. So if they have downtime with the control and the telemetry around that, it’s not a matter of, oh, I spent 3,500 bucks on my computer stuff and I can’t use it. It is all the payroll, all the people, all the downstream implications of, you can’t make the stuff so you can’t ship the stuff so that your logistics are hosed. All the downstream stuff that flows from it. That’s like super powerful. But you could do similar things for local survivability for if you are a healthcare provider that has satellite clinics, like it could almost literally be life and death. All of those use cases that I have spent the last 10 years in the industry saying no because I didn’t have an answer. Like, that’s the part about it that feels so good. Super interesting.

 

Bold Predictions: Bengals’ Super Bowl Win, AI’s Impact, and More

 

Scott Kinka:

Well that’s really cool. And I got the nerd propeller going in my head on that as well. Just a different way of thinking about edge, which is a really cool thing. I had one more question before we kind of got to the wrap up fun, which is I know that you guys do quite a bit around Microsoft. You’re doing, in this sort of hybrid cloud model around colo and around your own cloud and DR. And desktop as well. But we often get into what Microsoft means in your ecosystem, right? Aside from just being the people who made Azure, right? Friend or foe in your world? I mean, you’re the alliance guy. What do you think about Microsoft?

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

So it’s interesting that we are contiguous to Microsoft. So like we do a very healthy spa business, right? Like anything that you need licensing for, that you can consume, that kind of buy the drip that’s in our infrastructure, we’re here for that. We can be very helpful to you. We certainly don’t see ourselves as being adversarial towards any of the public cloud providers and certainly not Azure. The way that we interact with that will be, for example, we have great capabilities around Cohesity to compliment and backup. For example, your OneDrive, all your things that are in Microsoft 365 that people have sometimes the unreasonable expectation that’s being protected. We can support that. Working with our operations control suite is what we call it. That is the way that we use, like we took Morpheus as part of the tool set and all of this, you can be a customer that is purchasing stuff from Azure, from others yourself. But we can actually extend our monitoring into it. We can help you with cost governance and visibility and all of this stuff pulling back into that. We can help with some of the other things like silo things. We can put the endpoint protection there. We can help you with OSS patching on an automated thing. So that’s like, we’re not selling Azure infrastructure tonight. Today we’re not even selling Microsoft 365 infrastructure, but we are helping to make it better by solving, like buying it isn’t generally the problem that people have. It’s understanding what’s going on with it. And that’s an area where we’re leaning in. We’re friendly with them, but we’re not reselling all of their stuff right now. We’re just helping the areas where there are things that they don’t want to do for customers, and we are.

 

Scott Kinka:

Yeah. And I think that’s the key, right? I mean, that’s not an organization that necessarily, I don’t wanna say they don’t care. They’re not architected to make sure that you’re a good user of their stuff, in a lot of ways. And, they’re super partner friendly. I mean, if you talk to anybody on the Microsoft side of the house, it’s one of the reasons why I always laugh at getting that question. I’m like, why don’t you ask them? ’cause They’re gonna tell you that a partner makes $9 for every dollar they make, right? Like they’re very conscious about what they are and what they aren’t. But I did have to slide that one in there since you had Microsoft prominently kind of positioned on the website. This has been great. I wanna ask you just a couple fun questions before we wrap. So the first one is I’m gonna ask you for a shameless prediction. Could be business related, maybe not so much about Expedient, let’s just keep it like industry or technology related. But if you want to go into sports, the Bengals next year, politics, whatever, I mean, just throw something on the table and we’re gonna look at this in a year or 18 months and see how right you are.

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

Okay. So yeah, I would say that I’m not gonna go into politics like, or talk about religion, no thanks. 

 

Scott Kinka:

Dammit, I baited you and you didn’t go All right. We were just looking for something people were gonna click on. No, I’m kidding. Fire away.

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

Bangles are gonna win a Super Bowl in the next two years, and it won’t be the only one they’re gonna win. My Buckeyes are also going to put a crack in that SEC supremacy that is coming. And I think that a lot of people are gonna learn some hard lessons about how they ran into generative AI stuff without thinking about it too hard. That’s my other big thing. Like people really wanna give it away to me, like recovering academics here, right? I get you to give away responsibility sometimes for producing messaging, for doing this stuff, for getting the understanding behind producing the messaging. And I think that a lot of people are a subset of people, right? They’re gonna be generating a bunch of content coming out of these engines that even they don’t understand. And someday someone’s gonna say, what do you mean by whatever that thing was? They won’t be able to explain it. That’s my tech prediction that people will like to retract from that a little bit. It’ll be awesome. It’ll be useful, but not as awesome and not as useful as a lot of people want it to be.

 

Scott Kinka:

I’ve been thinking about, I mean, the AI topic, whether the company’s focused on AI or not, has come up on almost every one of these pods. I’m trying to figure out a good format for us on that. But as a recovering academic, I love the way you say that. I call myself a recovering CTO by the way, so I appreciate that. But as a recovering academic, I have some ideas on this. So we might be dipping back into you. I’m linking at my producer, I’m linking at our producer over here. I have an idea on it. But we’ve been getting a lot of requests around doing a deep dive discussion just on generative ai, AI in general. Like, what is it, what really is it, why are we so afraid of it? Is this our rational fear or is it irrational fear being sci-fi driven? Or what areas do we really have to fear? How’s it created, how’s it informed? And then really just sort of the kind of informed AI versus sort of generative AI, right? I know informed AI necessarily isn’t isn’t the way to describe it, but I think you get where I’m going. Like contained AI versus wide open generative ai. Yeah, absolutely. And just sort of getting into a debate on that. I think maybe there’s a format for that. And I shouldn’t be riffing on camera on this, but I’m gonna chat with Gina about this. If we do that. I’m inviting you now.

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

I’d love it. I’d love it. Absolutely.

 

Scott Kinka:

Yeah. So it sounds like, and maybe we’ll get you on with some AI nerds who’s who, that’s their product, and we can really go at it a little bit. Okay, so that’s good. I love that one. Just one. And this is a totally fun one. So let’s just assume that the robots do take over, right? And there’s one app that’s still running on your phone in this dystopian future, what’s your gotta have?

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

This is not gonna reflect well on me, but it might have to be an open table like in this and that. I’m gonna have one last shot at my Favoritest restaurant in the world. Like, I will have a good table at a time of my choosing. Open table might have to be the one.

 

Scott Kinka:

You’re truly embracing the end of the world with that answer. But it’s a great one. Like if it’s truly over, if Skynet is truly descending, yeah. It’s probably time to have a banging bottle of wine and a really serious plate of food.

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

Gin martini stirred, not shaken, please.

 

Scott Kinka:

Hey man, I know where you come from and I appreciate that. That’s fantastic. Well listen, this has been a great conversation. Thank you so much for your time. If our listeners are super interested in what you’re talking about, particularly around that edge conversation, obviously we would love for them to work with their friendly neighborhood bridgepoint strategist, but how can they find out a little bit more about Expedient?

 

Alvaro Gonzalez:

Yeah, so of course there is the website and then one of the projects I’m working on as well is actually raising the bar, the content that we make available to the bridgepoint strategists to get into this conversation. That’s a big deliverable from me in the next 60 days. So, the website, certainly I’m out there LinkedIn, I’d be delighted to talk to anyone with questions. Sod is a rockstar on your team, and I just spent some time with him in Denver. So, all the above.

 

Scott Kinka:

I agree with you on Sod being a rockstar, so we’ll make sure to add his LinkedIn to the show notes here as well, so people can look up our resources. Hey, I really appreciate the time and looking forward to catching up with you and the listeners on a future episode of Five Star US online, doing all those things. We’re really excited about you joining us to the listeners here on the Bridge, and hopefully we’ll be able to see you soon in another episode.

Alvaro Gonzalez:

Thanks, Scott. Thanks everybody.