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Public cloud: Real-world lessons of strategic success

Clint Boulton | Aug. 11, 2017
The public cloud is fast becoming a strategic tool for forward-looking companies. IT leaders share their experiences and lend advice to CIOs seeking to migrate to public cloud services to drive innovation, agility and revenue growth.


Your family tree in a public cloud

The market for genomics data delivered as a consumer service has become increasingly competitive in recent years. To achieve an agility edge, last month announced it is going "all-in" on's AWS service, which at $13 billion a year run-rate is easily the 800-pound gorilla of the public cloud market.

Nat Natarajan, Ancestry's executive vice president of product and technology who was hired earlier this year to manage the company's technology and product initiatives, says the company chose AWS to host billions of historical records, including family trees, and customer DNA profiles. "We're all-in because we believe that to continue to grow our business we need to improve our speed of innovation," Natarajan says. In six months, Ancestry has moved over half of its data - 8 petabytes - to AWS, a move he says will position Ancestry for greater international growth as more consumers seek information about their ancestors.

Consuming several AWS services, including platform-as-a-service, serverless computing and other tools, Ancestry has moved 6,000 of its 12,000 server instances to the cloud and 550 databases to AWS, with a goal to move a significant portion of its consumer products to AWS by the end of 2017.

"The driver for us was really speed," Natarajan tells "How quickly can we do certain things? We believe this was the fastest way for us to get there."

Natarajan's advice: Garnering executive support internally, recognizing that moving to the cloud is less about technology and more about operations, process and people, and appointing a dedicated leader to run point and execute best practices for the transition. "Thinking about the ops pieces, culture change and skillset change is crucial," Natarajan says.


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