Moving to the cloud can be intimidating for people accustomed to storing all their data on hardware. 

Enter Mitch Greenwald and his company Cloudbakers, which helps small to medium-sized businesses translate the vision of cloud-based storage into reality. 

As a Google Premier Partner for more than eight years, Cloudbakers has worked with financial services, technology, healthcare and other businesses to make the switch to Google products. 

What’s neat about Cloudbakers is that they don’t just introduce you to the apps and run: they plan your transition process carefully and help your team navigate the shift with the goal of keeping everyone on the same virtual page. 

Not every company gets the seal of approval from Google directly, but Mitch isn’t the kind of founder who lets that get to his head. That’s why one of Cloudbakers’ core values is to never stop learning. Based on all Mitch and his team have learned here’s why he’s built a business based on the cloud. 

Give your IT team a real challenge

Scott: I’d love you to fill out this narrative to why the cloud is so important and so key to the future.

Mitch Greenwald, CEO, Cloudbakers (Sam Fiske/Technori)

Mitch: There’s a great analogy of electricity and power plants. Late in the 1800s and in the early 1900s, companies actually had their own power generation; but once we got AC power, we were able to have power plants, so you didn’t need a power department in your company anymore. 

The cloud provides the same foundational approach for technology. In IT departments, traditionally 80 percent or maybe even 90 percent of the work is keeping the lights on, keeping things running, and they’re not necessarily moving the business forward. Being a former CIO, I can tell you no one ever got a pat on the back from the CEO saying, great active directory upgrade this week! Oh, you just upgraded your SAN by a terabyte? Great job!

The cloud enables all that infrastructure and network to basically be on demand. So before, let’s say you’re a retailer, you had to plan for peak capacity, but the rest of the year you only use 10 percent or 20 percent of the hardware you have. You had to build out a disaster recovery site that was a very expensive insurance policy. The cloud helps minimize those costs, minimizes the necessity to have all of those capital expenditures first, and have all those sunk costs. And it allows you to consume on-demand, and you don’t have to worry about true cloud fashion, or failover, or redundancy. You don’t have to worry about scaling, or running out of disk space. 

There are other things that you do have to control. You have to make sure that your access control is secure; that you’re not sharing data where it shouldn’t be shared; that when you do monitor a system, depending on how you deploy it, that it does scale up for you. That you do have ways to recover data and query it. But it’s a different way to control it, and you don’t have to worry about the hardware and the infrastructure as much, and then you could actually have this self-scaling environment. So the cloud basically provides you a foundation so that you can worry about the business functions — the things that add value. You take away something that’s not adding value to the company, and then you get these technology people to step up and provide business value. 

People say data is the new gold, or the new oil. I would say that’s not the case. I think how you get those deep insights into the data, and how you use that data, that’s the new gold, and that’s really interesting. And the cloud provides a lot of data and a lot of structure, and being able to bring multiple sources together in a pretty simple way to do that. What used to take months can now be done in weeks.

Bringing your tech and your team up to speed

Scott: What are some of the typical problems you see with mid-market companies as they engage Cloudbakers? 

Mitch: I always say that the G Suite is a really easy, low risk, high-reward first step into the cloud. Get rid of your email server, get rid of your file server. Get collaboration, and be able to work from your phone, or from your iPad, or from your Mac or PC, or whatever you want to use. We see that quite often, that people are just tired of maintaining their email servers. There’s no value in doing that. 

We also see people that want to have their data from multiple different sources. I really think it’s becoming a best of breed world: these traditional ERP systems can be very cumbersome for a mid-market company, very hard to maintain. Going to something like G Suite, going to a CRM solution, going to a cloud-based accounting solution, getting an inventory system in place, and then being able to stitch those together — or bake them together — in a meaningful way, where you create that special sauce for that company in this mashup of four or five products, and then you have data that you can correlate across all these, is a really key thing. 

Of course, solutions to common problems also create problems! And some of the problem is, how do you manage multiple applications, and how do you train your staff to manage them? How to configure them to get the most value out of these systems. And that quite often leads to change management. From my decades of experience in the industry, I know that it’s one thing to put in a new system, it’s a whole other thing to get people to adopt it, and a whole other thing to get people to be passionate about it. It’s showing people the value, and going through use cases that are specific to their department or their job function, and then showing them some of the value of collaboration.  

That’s a surface level: the deeper levels are getting to the data, to the applications that you can create, the mashup of different things, and how you can build insights into these things, and how it could run your business in a much more reliable, scalable fashion. And it scales down to the smaller companies up to the bigger companies.

Collaboration in the cloud

Scott: Talk to me about what you do specifically, in particular how it pertains to a growing, early company.

Mitch: We help mid-market companies get to the cloud: we could set up email, calendar, contacts with them. More importantly, we are a Google Premier Partner. We’re one of a handful that service the mid-market in the country. You have to earn that, by having referenceable clients, being able to sell a lot of their products, have the marketing efforts, have the case studies, have certifications. We’re very big on training our staff and getting these certifications.

We help these companies move to G Suite, which is a phenomenal value in technology. We help them with data modernization, so getting their data in a format that’s usable for them, that can get insights for them, and then building these data pipelines from multiple different sources. We help with the infrastructure and modernize that, so they can use things like serverless functions, and Kubernetes, and different tools that are out there. And then we also do application development, so if you have a concept that you want to put in place and bring it to the cloud, we help you build those, and we also do a lot with Zoho CRM, which for the mid-market is probably one of the best values in technology.

Scott: Why do you think Google in particular is a good spot for mid-market and early-stage growth companies?

Mitch: A real key thing is the ability to collaborate on documents. People who use G Suite, we never attach documents: we share them, we collaborate on them. People say, we want our company to be more innovative. You can’t just have an ‘Innovation Team.’ Innovation is from culture, and the culture of collaboration. It starts from the bottom, where your leadership team is all about being open to ideas, being able to collaborate.