IT Life: When Cutting Edge Becomes The Norm

We take things for granted that would have amazed us ten years ago, says spare-time pilot Raj Dutt

Raj Dutt is senior vice president of technology at cloud infrastructure provider Internap. He joined the company when Voxel, the firm he founded in 1999 was acquired.

What has been your favourite project so far?
When I was working with Voxel in 2008, we launched our hybrid cloud and CDN offering. Although it was small, we had a really talented and focused team. At the time, there was very little in the market that we could leverage, so we made full use of our internal expertise and built our own. It was a huge challenge that resulted in strong customer success and also played a big role in creating the culture of the company.

bread and butter knife spread  © sergign ShutterstockFrom cutting edge to bread and butter

What tech were you involved with ten years ago?
It’s so strange to look back ten years. It makes you realise how much has changed in such a short space of time. The technologies that I was involved with were things like Linux, Apache, and other key open source infrastructure building blocks. These baseline, ‘bread and butter’ technologies are taken for granted today, but ten years ago they were cutting edge and a lot less bulletproof than they are now.

What tech do you expect to be using in ten years’ time?
Seeing how quickly things move, I would expect to be using converged bio-tech, things like implanted devices that could help me to communicate or augment my reality. I’ve given up on the idea of a flying car.

Elon_Musk_in_Mission_Control_at_SpaceXWho’s your tech hero?
I think Elon Musk is a superhero of technology – he’s a real world Tony Stark. Jon Favreau was famously quoted saying that Elon was the inspiration for his film depiction of the genius billionaire. Elon has an amazing history working with companies like Paypal, Tesla, and SpaceX, and is in a league of his own.

Ballmer fistWho’s your tech villain?
I would have to say Steve Ballmer. As CEO of Microsoft, he’s in a challenging spot what with the transition they’re currently going through. I just can’t help but laugh at anyone who throws chairs across rooms.

Diamond flyer

diamond da20What’s your favourite technology ever made? Which do you use most?
The Diamond DA20 airplane – this two-seat tricycle gear general aviation aircraft is fast, cost-competitive, and a joy to fly.

What is your budget outlook going forward? Flat? Growing?
It’s definitely growing, which is always nice to be able to say.

Apart from your own, which company do you admire most and why?
A company that I really admire is SpaceX, the space transport company that was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk. It’s amazing that a private company has managed to set the world standard for space launch, which up until recently was exclusively the domain of an elite group of governments. Today, even the Chinese are coming to SpaceX as their space partner. People said it wouldn’t be possible, and Elon Musk proved them all wrong — and took significant personal risk to get there.

spacex rocket

What’s the greatest challenge for an IT company/department today?
With the consumerisation of IT and the growth of BYOD, the bar is really being raised by various cloud providers across the globe to provide workable solutions. IT can’t keep up with the expectations of its own users, so we’re increasingly seeing that they are being completely disintermediated within organisations.

To Cloud or not to Cloud?
The real answer is, ‘it depends’. Infrastructure is definitely commoditising, but cloud is not a panacea for all types of workloads. People are flat out wrong if they think an ‘all cloud’ strategy is a good idea for their business. There are too many ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’, and that’s going to continue to be the case for quite a few years.

What did you want to be when you were a child?
I really wanted to be a fighter pilot, but I guess there’s always the Diamond DA20. A little prop plane just isn’t the same as a jet, though.

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