Q+A: Thomson Reuters Uses the Cloud as a Catalyst For Change

Adam Fokken, Thomson Reuters principal architect, discusses the company's work with cloud technology

The Cloud as a Catalyst
Thomson Reuters

Adam Fokken. [Photo via Thomson Reuters]

Adam Fokken, Principal Architect at Thomson Reuters, gives us a look into the Enterprise Cloud and what it entails. From getting global companies onto the cloud to the challenges he faces, Adam has an insightful approach to technology, growth, and innovation.

What is your current role and what types of projects are you working on?

I work on the Thomson Reuters Enterprise Cloud team as a cloud architect. My primary responsibility is to enable products to leverage the cloud while ensuring adherence to our company’s security and operations best practices. We are using the cloud as a catalyst to change, not only the way in which we develop and deliver products to our customers, but also our culture. It is an opportunity to rethink long-standing processes and adapt them for the dynamic and agile nature of cloud technology.

What has been the approach for getting a global company on the cloud?

There was an inevitable wave approaching to utilize public cloud services to deliver our products. Different parts of the organization were already utilizing and creating shadow infrastructure. To help formalize the adoption of public cloud, a number of teams conducted proof-of-concepts to assess the value a public cloud could offer our company.

ThomsonReuters_HR_hardcode ads_091916HRFacts_11_300x250This was followed by a Cloud Summit, which brought together technology leaders from across Thomson Reuters to present their findings and make the decision of how the company would move forward with this new technology offering. By taking both a bottom-up and top-down approach we were able to rally a lot of support and set in motion a plan to deliver our next products on public cloud.

Since the summit, we’ve organized a Cloud Center of Excellence team that works to evangelize and build consensus on the right approach for building applications that run on the cloud. The CCOE is building training, tools, and documentation to help all parts of the company. The true test will be the delivery of the first application in the cloud which will happen by the end of this year.

Have there been any noteworthy challenges faced? If so, how did you overcome them?

There are many talented technologists at Thomson Reuters who are eager to use public cloud technology. One of the first challenges was making sure everyone was contributing real value in evaluating cloud technologies and that we weren’t duplicating efforts. At the same time, we wanted to harness the excitement to deliver products faster. That was the reason for creating the CCOE. There would be a central group that organized work across many different parts of the business and it also funneled a lot of the best practices in one central place for people to go to. Thomson Reuters is a highly matrixed organization that is moving toward operating as one enterprise, and because of that, the biggest challenge has been organizing that central group and the good work being done across the company.

What’s your advice to someone who wants to be successful in your field?

Never stop learning. Technology changes, advances, and builds on itself. It can seem like a never-ending stream, but if you can base yourself in the fundamentals and not shy away from what’s new, you can be successful in the long term.

What do you like best about working at Thomson Reuters?

When I go to conferences and talk about the scale and complexity of technologies Thomson Reuters uses to deliver products, people are usually blown away. Most people aren’t aware of the challenges technologists at Thomson Reuters tackle. What I like best is working with really talented people and working on really complex problems.

What does going to the cloud mean for the tax and accounting business?

Carrollton, Texas-based Sai Billanuka, vice president of Thomson Reuters U.S. Income Tax Technology group, may have said it best: “Cloud Computing is a game changer for Thomson Reuters’ Tax and Accounting business. Our customers have peak seasons twice a year and with the cloud computing’s pay-as-you-go model, not having to pay costs to maintain your server year-round is a huge benefit. It helps us invest in building applications for the future rather than maintaining infrastructure. Cloud computing is helping us to take our new applications to the market faster, and scale at a monstrous pace. With the Cloud, we can check off everything we ever want in an application, environment-friendly, very high reliability, availability, and global reach, this is like having your favorite car built with all the specifications you want and still getting an awesome deal on it.”

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