Why I joined Okera…

There are a bunch of factors that impacted my decision to join Okera. As you read this, keep in mind that I already had a good job at a good company — but I found Okera to be something special.

Customer Need

Over the course of the previous 3+ years in big data analytics, a theme has emerged which I could not turn my back on: access control and governance on cloud-based data lakes.

Many Enterprises would start quickly with data lake projects. A business requirement was defined, such as a new product or Customer 360 analytics. It was relatively straightforward to start:

  1. Use the Cloud – easy access to virtually unlimited compute/storage.
  2. Compile data into an Object Store – S3 or other Blob Storage.
  3. Leverage Analytics services like Qubole or Databricks.
  4. Deploy to Production.

There would be little thought to issues around data access, auditing, user segmentation, compliance etc. After all, it was a single use case that had compelling ROI.

With the data lake established… things got interesting. Their story of success spread throughout the Enterprise!!

Access to data and capabilities was then requested by teams across the business: more users, more data, more analytic systems were answering more diverse business questions. This, in turn, demanded more control, more compliance, and more oversight.

It’s a great problem to have!! The business can now make better informed decisions, BUT the data lake was not designed to scale in this manner.

When faced with tough challenges, such as scaling, engineers will step up and build what is needed for the business to flourish. However, these are very difficult technical hurdles. Even with Herculean efforts, most companies experience limited success, achieving only a limited use of their data.

I found myself waist-deep in this many times at some very large enterprises. The bottom line is that there had been no solution available to address these issues at scale. Until Okera.

Okera as a Partner

Enterprises constantly seek technology solutions to address a business requirement. My 20+ year career has been centered around delivering solutions and striving for a trusted partner relationship, rather than that of a “vendor”.

The team at Okera takes this approach. As a salesperson, my word is more important and binding than any contract. As a trusted partner, I would rather collaborate around the best solution even if that means a reduced or no sale. My experiences indicate that buyers have been bitten by technology sales people who could not deliver on promises made in the boardroom. I will never be that sales person.

During my interview process, the Okera team expressed similar views which has been validated by their customers.

Market Size

It is tough to estimate the size and scale of the cloud marketplace and where enterprises fall on the technology adoption curve. Sure, AWS is the largest, Microsoft Azure is growing fast, and Google has some interesting tech. However, what cannot be debated is that the cloud expansion will continue, driven by the desire for agility and the need for data to accelerate business productivity.

Every year, enterprises spend hundreds of billions of dollars on big data and analytics in an effort to become more data-driven. Within each enterprise, new innovative ways to use and analyze data are constantly being invented. Many users with varying skills and disciplines have emerged, requiring a broad array of analytics tools.

Data management has become elemental. Data must be kept secure and governed, yet must remain accessible, too.

The business impact is often transformational: creating new ways to interact with customers or new business models.

Okera enhances this Impact with a highly differentiated solution.

Visionary Leadership

Over the years, I have seen start-ups come to market with solutions that are essentially a slight variance on a theme already in the market. The need for one-off product differentiation is a problem that creates a race to the (pricing) bottom. As a current example, check out the number of No-SQL database vendors out there.

The Okera executive team has clear vision on the challenges enterprises face. They envisioned the current state of the industry almost 3 years ago and have since invested their time in architecting a solution that is adaptable, scalable, and already proven in production at a number of customers!

More importantly, the solution is not easily replicated by other start-ups or cloud vendors. Should an enterprise take a DIY approach, they will invest about many years, easily with an 8-figure price tag, and still have no guarantee of success. During that time, Okera will continue to evolve and expand our solution in partnership with major enterprises.

Add it up

When I was offered the opportunity to join Okera, I jumped! Virtually all of my customers were trying to solve issues around access control and governance. Okera is not simply an analytics vendor nor a cloud provider. As such, we cut across the data lake to consolidate access control and data governance……a compelling value proposition!

Lastly, great technology is one thing. It is a completely different thing to build a great place to work. I have had the fortune (or misfortune) of working for less than successful companies which left a strong sense of what to look for in a small company. I found everything I was looking for at Okera!