Confluent Recognizes Risk Focus as a Preferred Professional Services Partner

Confluent Recognizes Risk Focus as a Preferred Professional Services Partner

For Immediate Release
Tara Ronel
June 7, 2019
tara.ronel@riskfocus.com

[New York, NY, June 7, 2019] – Risk Focus, a leading consultancy for highly-regulated industries, is proud to announce that it has earned Preferred status in the Confluent Partner Network Program, the enterprise event streaming platform pioneer.

VAssil

As a Confluent Preferred Partner, Risk Focus has met all the stringent business and technical program requirements, including significant customer development, training and certification of their staff. They have also demonstrated the required skill sets to help its financial services customers implement Apache™ Kafka™ and the Confluent platform in order to harness its flexible event streaming power in new or existing applications.

“We have invested heavily to develop our team through hands-on enterprise project experience, process implementation, Kafka courses and Confluent certifications,” shares Vassil Avramov, Founder and CEO of Risk Focus. “Confluent is, by far, the leader in the event streaming space, and we are thrilled to be nominated to a very small group of Confluent Preferred organizations. We recognize that this is only the beginning, and are committed to jointly helping our customers unlock the power of their data for years to come.”

“Financial services organizations are among the most impacted by the the effects of the digital revolution where technology and data are becoming key for remaining relevant to customers.  That is why so many are turning to event streaming platforms to power their applications to deliver the modern banking experiences customers expect. As the demand from this sector grows, it is important to have fully-trained and experienced Preferred Partners like Risk Focus assisting financial services organizations deploy solutions based on Confluent Platform to deliver contextual event driven applications.”“We have invested heavily to develop our team through hands-on enterprise project experience, process implementation, Kafka courses and Confluent certifications,” shares Vassil Avramov, Founder and CEO of Risk Focus. “Confluent is, by far, the leader in the event streaming space, and we are thrilled to be nominated to a very small group of Confluent Preferred organizations. We recognize that this is only the beginning, and are committed to jointly helping our customers unlock the power of their data for years to come.”

Vassil Avramov

Founder and CEO, Risk Focus

Confluent provides a complete event streaming platform based on Apache Kafka and extends Kafka’s capabilities with development, connectivity and stream processing capabilities as well as management and operations. The Confluent Partner ecosystem is an important element to drive success with customers to assist customers in developing robust data connectivity, building stream processing applications and ensuring the ongoing success of our joint customer’s strategic initiatives.

“Financial services organizations are among the most impacted by the the effects of the digital revolution where technology and data are becoming key for remaining relevant to customers” said Simon Hayes, vice president of corporate and business development, Confluent. “That is why so many are turning to event streaming platforms to power their applications to deliver the modern banking experiences customers expect. As the demand from this sector grows, it is important to have fully-trained and experienced Preferred Partners like Risk Focus assisting financial services organizations deploy solutions based on Confluent Platform to deliver contextual event driven applications.”

“Financial services organizations are among the most impacted by the the effects of the digital revolution where technology and data are becoming key for remaining relevant to customers.  That is why so many are turning to event streaming platforms to power their applications to deliver the modern banking experiences customers expect. As the demand from this sector grows, it is important to have fully-trained and experienced Preferred Partners like Risk Focus assisting financial services organizations deploy solutions based on Confluent Platform to deliver contextual event driven applications.”

Simon Hayes

Vice President, Corporate and Business Development, Confluent

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About Risk Focus

Risk Focus is a NYC-based company that provides strategic IT consulting to global enterprises. The company’s Infrastructure practice provides solutions, methodologies, and strategic guidance for digital transformation, containerization, and automation. Its Financial Services team offers strong domain expertise and technology acumen to deliver feature-focused solutions in Capital Markets. To learn more about Risk Focus, please visit www.riskfocus.com.

Confluent and Risk Focus Partner to Bring the Power of Event Streaming to Financial Services

Confluent and Risk Focus Partner to Bring the Power of Event Streaming to Financial Services

Confluent and Risk Focus Partner to Bring the Power of Event Streaming to Financial Services 

Confluent the enterprise event streaming platform pioneer, and Risk Focus, a leading consultancy for highly regulated industries, have joined forces to help Financial Services clients realize the efficiency and cost-effective benefits of event streaming architectures for Regulatory Compliance. 

Taking a Bite out of Apple – IT Projections for 2019

Taking a Bite out of Apple – IT Projections for 2019

Written by: Cary Dym

2019 is off to a rotten start for Apple.  On January 4th, Apple hit a 52-week low of $142, 39% off of its all-time high hit in October 2018.   (By some estimates, Warren Buffet has suffered a $4B paper-loss on his Apple stock).  While most of the attention to the fall of Apple has been focused on weak demand from China, another less-discussed factor is that people are keeping their phones longer.   The average hold time for iPhones has increased from 24 months to 36 months driven by higher non-subsidized costs of new phones and very few “must have” features.

So, is this recent change in consumer purchasing behavior also representative of a broader trend in corporate IT spend?   According to a recent report from Computer Economics entitled “IT Spending and Staffing Benchmarks 2018/2019”, while overall IT Budget spend in 2018 increased slightly as a percentage of revenue, capital spending as percentage of IT spending remained flat at a five-year low of 18%, off of a high of 23% in 2014.   Not surprisingly, security/privacy continues to be the major spending priority.  Interestingly, security is tied with another priority—cloud applications – and cloud infrastructure spend is a close third.   Despite the focus—and spend—on  cloud applications and infrastructure, the report goes on to state that “only 20% of companies have converted at least half of their business applications to the cloud”.   This leaves a huge growth opportunity in the Cloud. 

We saw a decrease in overall IT CapEx in 2018 offset by an increase in OpEx, primarily driven by Cloud consumption, but what about the third leg of the IT spending stool – staffing?  On average, IT staffing budgets for most organizations stayed flat in 2018.   While hiring is slowing for lower-level skills such as computer operations, scheduling, and lower-level tech support positions; higher-level skills show increasing demand.   Lower-level skills are being replaced by automation, driving increased IT organizational efficiency.   Meanwhile, demand for higher-skilled resources continues to outpace supply, driving up salaries and/or forcing IT organizations to look to outside organizations for skilled resources. Upskilling resources coupled with automation is a top priority. 

For 2019, Gartner predicts that spending on commodity items, such as communications and data center technologies like servers, is expected to be either flat or down, while spending on IT services and software is expected to go up.   They forecast an 8.3% growth for 2019 in Enterprise Software driven primarily by “Everything as a Service”.    An example for this growth is AWS Aurora – Amazon’s MySQL and PostgreSQL compatible Cloud service offer – which continues to be the fasting growing service in the history of AWS.   Meanwhile, Gartner suggests that the IT services market – the range of services that assist individuals and enterprises in implementing, managing, and operating the wide variety of processes, systems, software, equipment, and peripherals – will top $1 trillion in 2019.

I am personally quite excited about the projection for 2019 and the opportunities to help our clients with their IT priorities.     The needs of our clients reflect the priorities predicted by Gartner and outlined above: they plan to drive automation across their build, deploy and operational workstream and continue to leverage Cloud services and cloud infrastructure as they are decreasing their investment in data center technologies.   In addition, our clients look to us to augment their internal IT organization with highly skilled resources, but ultimately want coaching to help build up their expertise in house.  At Risk Focus, we see a great opportunity to help our clients form and execute their plans, while coaching their internal teams to adopt new practices and work within new processes.  To this end, we continue to build out our bench of skilled DevOps players and coaches in our centers of excellence in NY, Toronto, Pittsburgh, London, Amsterdam and Riga. 

As for the outlook of Apple, as stated in January 5th NY Times article entitled Apple’s Biggest Problem? My Mom, “If there’s an app – maybe its Fortnite 2 – that I can’t run on my existing iPhone, a new iPhone will be on every teenage boy’s shopping list.” Platforms are ultimately only as valuable as the services they enable! 

Wishing you all a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2019!

Risk Focus Expands to Canada’s Queen City

Risk Focus Expands to Canada’s Queen City

Risk Focus, a consulting firm providing specialized business domain and technology implementations, announces the opening of their new Toronto Office. The office is located just outside the city in Oakville, ON and will house a highly technical team focusing on DevOps and Business Transformations, as well as Risk and Trade Solutions for Financial Services.

Though establishing a physical presence in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is new to Risk Focus, the company has worked in Toronto’s Financial District for most of this decade, with an emphasis since 2013 on helping firms drive Business Transformations into the Cloud and proper DevOps practices. Establishing a local presence reflects a commitment to growth in the area, both in terms of expertise and client base.

Over the last several years Toronto has become a mecca for Technology and IT Professionals. With large technical juggernauts moving into the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and the Universities continuing to educate, develop and feed Silicon Valley with quality developers, it makes Toronto a logical destination for Risk Focus.

Karl Kerba, the new Head of the Toronto DevOps Solutions is a native Torontonian, as are several other members of the growing Toronto team. The team will work directly with the Head of DevOps for the firm, Peter Meulbroek. Both Peter, and the entire Risk Focus leadership believes in the community, its innovative culture, deep talent pool and growth opportunities, and expects the company to have a bright future here.

Toronto is an exceptional place to live and work. It ranks as the 7th most liveable city in the world based on The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Index, which considers five parameters to rank a city’s living condition: stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure.
“We’re here because Toronto has so much to offer. In addition to all those things that make it an eminently liveable city, an immense level of talent exists within the GTA. We couldn’t be more thrilled to bring Risk Focus to this dynamic tech hot spot,” said Kerba.

Risk Focus, founded in 2004, has established an international presence stemming out from their head office in New York City. Their offices span globally – London, Frankfurt, Riga and recently opening a Development Center in Pittsburgh (August) and now in Toronto.

Risk Focus On Infrastructure As Code

Risk Focus On Infrastructure As Code

Infrastructure as Code

Written by: Cary Dym, Global Head of DevOps Business Development

Infrastructure as Code (IaC) transforms and automates the manual process of standing up datacenter environments and processes, such as hardware instantiation, networking, run books, and appliance and software configuration, into automated deployment and configuration.The IaC concept has been around for several years in both startups and many tech firms and is gaining wider traction.  TechNavio cites the increased adoption of IaC as a major trend across all industries and geographies in their Global DevOps Platform Market 2018-2022 report.

Every industry is challenged by Digital Disrupters:  firms that are competing based on enhanced capabilities and lower costs derived from digital innovation.  According to the 2018 IDC Whitepaper, Designing Tomorrow, “Over 67% of companies believe a digitally enabled competitor will gain a competitive advantage within the next five years.”  Traditional companies must be able to move faster at lower cost, and yet continue to manage risk.  Firms willing to undergo digital transformation are able to achieve this with IaC.  Infrastructure cost (CAPEX) and human cost (OPEX) can be reduced by leveraging the dynamic and self-service capabilities that IaC provides.  Increased velocity means recasting multi-step, multi-hour, manual processes—such as racking servers, loading software patches, installing services and applications, configuring networks, and enabling storage—into automated, repeatable, scalable processes that are performed in minutes.  When done properly, IaC reduces risk by addressing traditional IT problems, including configuration drift, human error, inconsistencies, and loss of context.

These additional capabilities – faster delivery of infrastructure, and consistent configuration during the software delivery cycle – allow organizations to make changes faster, with more confidence, and lower risk.

A good place to start Digital Transformation is implementing IaC to facilitate adoption of DevOps practice.  Firms starting on this journey are faced with the hard task of assessing whether the organization has skills and know-how to embark on the journey alone or requires collaboration with skilled practitioners.  Most “not-born-in-the-cloud” firms realize they need to bring in outside resources (unfortunately, sometimes after first failing internally).  Risk Focus has broad industry expertise across Finance, Healthcare and Telecom industries with deep expertise in IaC technologies.  We realize that even large journeys start with a single step and have developed a unique Player-Coach engagement model that facilitates new DevOps principles, enabling demonstration of best-practices through quick-win projects.

At Risk Focus, we are agnostic (yet opinionated) about the tools we use. Our choices are informed by a variety of factors and determined by our clients’ needs.  However, we do have our favorites.  One such tool is Terraform, which is the service provisioner and infrastructure orchestrator in the suite of offerings by HashiCorp. Terraform is cloud-agnostic and supports all major clouds, both public and private.  In hybrid environments where there are advantages to a single set of tooling, Terraform allows our practitioners to quickly develop, validate and roll out orchestration templates.

We implement CM with two tools:  Salt and Ansible.  Ansible focuses on simplicity, and getting going is quick, changes are easy to understand, and organizational adoption tends to be fast.  We recommend Saltfor organizations with greater infrastructure complexity. Salt has a completely declarative model that includes components to dynamically manage configuration and detect drift, along with the ability to layer buildouts and react to signals from the environment, changing infrastructure dynamically in response to changing conditions.  These abilities necessarily require additional complexity and result in a steeper learning curve, but clients with sufficient scale, compliance requirements, or complexity find great benefit from the additional features.

At Risk Focus, our Cloud and DevOps team support transformation initiatives and demonstrate domain expertise in the following areas:

– Infrastructure as Code Orchestration with tools like HashiCorp’s Terraform, as well as cloud-native Orchestration with CloudFormation, ARM, and HEAT.

– Configuration automation with technologies including Salt and Ansible.

– Migrating applications to public cloud, including re-architecting of applications to become more cloud-compatible or cloud-native.

– Containerization including extensive experience with Docker, Docker Swarm, OpenShift, Kubernetes, EKS, GKE, and

– Cloud migration and hybrid cloud implementation using VMWare, Openstack, AWS, GCP and Azure.

– Process and methodology improvements and CI/CD pipeline implementation leveraging tools such as Git, JIRA, Jenkins, and

– Multi-cloud Monitoring and Log aggregation via Splunk, Elastic, and InfluxDB.