Speaker Spotlight: ‘Cloud 101: Unleash Your Potential’ with Antony Grace

To start off 2023, Brighton Cloud went back to the basics. What is cloud? What benefits can it bring? How can it make my business more agile and drive innovation? What about security? What data should I store there? Should I move everything to the cloud? Antony Grace (Brighton Cloud co-organiser and Founder at Secure Bubble) answered all these questions and more, with some pretty pictures and demos.

We caught up with Antony following the event to find out more about him, background and work. And in case you missed his talk, you can watch it on our YouTube channel here.

Hey Antony, tell us a bit about you and the work that you do…

I find it hard to pin down exactly what I do, because I love working on different things! My main work (and passion) is really based around public cloud platforms such as Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud (GCP). It’s incredibly varied as these hyper-scale providers have so many products and services which they’re constantly innovating and evolving. It’s virtually impossible to keep pace!

I founded Secure Bubble in November 2022 in response to some huge changes in my life, but it’s definitely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I love working with entrepreneurs, start-ups and companies to help them begin or improve their journeys into cloud, and I can often focus on helping them secure their existing solutions, or build securely from the start because of my background working with various UK government agencies.

What was the inspiration for your recent talk?

I was asked very recently by someone at a Brighton Cloud meetup what exactly “cloud” was. I found my explanation quite lacking at the time and I realised I myself needed to go back to the basics! What better way then than to write a talk about it?!

Any key highlights / takeaways for anyone who missed it?

I’m hopeful the presentation was useful in introducing some new concepts to people about cloud so they can take those back and start making changes to help them be more productive.

Cloud offers a world of possibilities, but is also fraught with potential risks and costly mistakes. Plan your strategy, get help and assistance where you need it, and don’t lose focus on what you’re trying to achieve from a business perspective – that constant feedback is crucial to a successful cloud deployment.

Did you come up through a “traditional” techie route or has your career taken twists and turns along the way?

Very “traditional” techy route! I left uni after 1 year without really knowing what I wanted to do and after a couple of admin jobs, I remembered I’d always been a bit handy with computers when I was younger, so blagged a job working 1st line support on an IT helpdesk for a small SAP consultancy – that was 25 years ago. I learnt loads from that job, and gradually moved through the support teams before taking a leap into consultancy and architecture, and now more into development and DevOps.

The main thing I’ve learned in that time is things will quickly change in IT and you’ve just got to move with them. I’ve heard a few times that some new technology will replace my job, and whilst that might actually be true in some cases, my experience is that a wealth of new career options opened up around it – being adaptable to that change is the key for long term success in the industry.

Is there a moment that helped define your career?

It has to be getting that initial helpdesk job really – back when I was younger, schools thought all the skills you needed in IT was being able to write a WordPerfect document (yes, this was even before MS Word!), and we had no option of learning any more than that. So when I got to 18/19 with not a clue what to do with myself, it was that decision just to “give it a go” which led me to where I am today.

What piece of advice would you give your younger self?

You’re not perfect and you never will be, so stop trying to achieve perfection. It’s okay to get things wrong, it’s okay not to know things and it’s essential to ask for help when you need it. Don’t wear a mask for everyone else’s benefit – it really is okay not to be okay.

What’s your big tech prediction for 2023?

Always difficult, but clearly the news of OpenAI and ChatGPT is rocking the industry a bit at the moment – it’s hard to know what effect that will have, but I’ll be keeping a close eye on it to see what opportunities it brings. But I think we won’t know the full story until beyond 2023.

Unfortunately, there’s going to be a lot more security incidents, especially ransomware, as many companies still don’t really have the level of protection they need against it.

Finally, I’ll go out on a limb and say the first set of AR glasses will be released this year (but not by Apple) and they’ll receive great reviews, but fairly lukewarm reception in the public because of the cost.

Silicon Brighton wouldn’t be here without people like you giving back to the community so… what does the word community mean to you?

For me community is all about giving and receiving help from others when you need it. My 2023 will hopefully consist of a lot of giving back into society as best as I can, because I feel incredibly lucky to be where I am today, and I don’t ever want to take that for granted again.


Missed Antony’s talk or want to watch it again? Check it out here…