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Hackernoon logoHow Adfolks Made the Pivot from Services to Product by@twaintaylor

How Adfolks Made the Pivot from Services to Product

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@twaintaylorTwain Taylor

Unlike most cloud consulting companies that are US or EU based, Adfolks is a Middle East-based cloud-native engineering company that has been making great strides in recent years. This post is about their transition from a consulting services company to a product company. 

Adfolks origins

Adfolks started operations in 2016 providing services in the cloud consulting space. Based out of Dubai, their clients are primarily in the Middle East. Organizations in this region are typically late adopters of new technology, and trail their American and European counterparts. With a majority of compute infrastructure running on-premise, there is a big need for these organizations to move to the cloud. When making the shift from on-prem to cloud these companies lack the technical expertise in-house, and would look to a services company like AdFloks to ease their migration to the cloud. There is also a talent crunch in the Middle East with fewer IT consulting companies than in the west. Adfolks capitalized on this need and quickly scaled operations to $1M annual turnover in 2018.

1. Early mover advantage

Being one of the first professionals in the Middle East to be certified in AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud, they focused exclusively on helping clients migrate to cloud platforms like AWS. Later, once Kubernetes began to dominate enterprise IT conversations, they were the first to become Kubernetes-certified way back in 2018. Today, 60% of their team are Certified Kubernetes Administrators (CKA), and Certified Kubernetes Application Developers (CKAD). 

2. Failures are stepping stones

With many of the developers being machine learning and data science experts, Adfolks was always drawn to building data solutions. They initially set out to enable organizations to build their own customized SIEM solution that’s based on Elasticsearch. The goal was to accelerate the adoption of modern SIEM tools and create an agile SIEM strategy that can adapt along with an organization's needs. While the idea had potential, it didn't gain traction and Adfolks found that self-managed Elasticsearch is easier said than done. 

3. Seizing the opportunity

One of the larger retail companies commissioned Adfolks to build a monitoring and logging solution to help bolster their multi-SIEM strategy. Adfolks used open source tools like the ELK stack and Kubernetes to build a custom solution that can handle log routing at scale. The client loved the solution, and this sparked the idea of productizing the custom solution and make it available to the broader market. Thus, was born Opsbrew, a codeless log pipeline management solution for a multicloud world. 

4. The birth of a product

According to Arun Mohan, CEO of Adfolks, “Opsbrew is a log studio for pipelines that facilitate log streaming from multiple sources to multiple destinations. This Kubernetes-native log pipeline platform enables deployment to any environment of choice.”

Arun Mohan, CEO, Adfolks

Opsbrew provides a framework for on-boarding structured and unstructured sources from any source, and delivers it to any destination for consumption. In a multicloud setup where organizations have an on-premise data center, a private cloud, and multiple public clouds like AWS and Azure, log data is growing at an exponential rate. Opsbrew looks to manage all this log data at scale. Opsbrew is unique in how it handles log management using visual pipelines. This helps to simplify complex logging infrastructure.

Beyond routing log data, Opsbrew provides filtering and parsing capabilities that serve to enhance log data, remove noisy data, and even mask confidential data so the logs sent to SIEM tools are secure by default. Finally, Opsbrew includes an alerts feature that reports on endpoint deviations. This includes alerts for things like logs not being generated, or a sudden anomaly like a spike in log volumes. 

5. Creative promotion strategies

Adfolks entered Opsbrew into this year's Microsoft Azure Sentinel hackathon where they won first place for their ability to centralize SIEM data into Azure Sentinel. John Lambert, Distinguished Engineer and General Manager, Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center praised Opsbrew as a 'sophisticated solution for enterprises.' Arun Mohan, founder of Adfolks will be speaking at this year’s Microsoft Ignite conference. Adfolks believes they've stumbled on a goldmine (or an oil well:) with Opsbrew, and have big plans to take the product global. 

Summary of the Adfolks story

Adfolks is a great story of how to pivot from services to product. Operating in a smaller global market, they had to make the most of their early mover advantage by getting certified in AWS and Kubernetes early on.

They focused on building cash reserves by quickly scaling operations in the first two years. Seizing the opportunity afforded by their best clients, they capitalized on the idea to productize one of their services at just the right time. Not just with product creation, they've leveraged creative marketing opportunities in the form of a Hackathon. If you are a part of, or run a services organization yourself, and you've been thinking about making the switch from services to product, take a leaf from Adfolks and see the hidden opportunities all around.


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