Interview: Vodafone, Cloud Excellence Awards finalist

'We stand out for our resolute commitment to pushing boundaries'

Tom Allen
clock • 5 min read
Interview: Vodafone, Cloud Excellence Awards finalist

Telco giant Vodafone UK has accomplished great things this year, and aims to see that success recognised at the Cloud Excellence Awards in September.

The Cloud Excellence Awards recognise the very best of the UK's cloud industry: from the most innovative and compelling products and vendors, through to the top use cases from end-user firms.

We will announce this year's winners at a live awards ceremony on Thursday 21st September in central London, where Vodafone will be awaiting the results on three categories: Best Use of AI in the Cloud, Best Cloud Project and Cloud Professional of the Year.

We talked to Glenn Dale, head of digital engineering at Vodafone, about the company's work in the last 12 months, and what he's looking forward to at the awards.

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Glenn oversees a team of nearly 1,000 people who deliver and maintain Vodafone's most visible and customer-critical services.

An engineer at heart, Glenn's 25-year career has centred around delivering high-volume web-based services, surpassing 80 million daily hits for over 300 million users. He prides himself on possessing the rare ability to translate technical expertise into tangible business outcomes, crafting extraordinary products and services within complex and evolving landscapes.

Since joining Vodafone in 2020, Glen has overseen major improvements in the Mobile Vodafone App, TOBi Chatbot, IVR and web services, and now steps into the role of Head of Digital Engineering at a time of great change for the business.

Computing: What makes Vodafone different from other companies?

Glenn Dale: Vodafone UK stands out in the realm of telecommunications, establishing itself as a true pioneer in innovation and a staunch advocate for prioritising customers at the core of their operations. The exceptional facet that sets Vodafone UK apart lies in our resolute commitment to pushing boundaries, introducing state-of-the-art technologies, and consistently staying ahead of evolving customer needs. Particularly impressive is Vodafone's unwavering dedication to delivering seamless connectivity and tailored experiences, resulting in a profound rapport with millions of customers.

What truly differentiates Vodafone UK is the emphasis on crafting top-tier, cloud-based services driven by software engineering expertise. This strategic focus on cultivating an innovative culture through these services further reinforces our position as a pioneering trailblazer in the industry. Their unwavering pursuit of excellence continues to redefine benchmarks for quality, reliability and customer satisfaction.

What's one achievement you're most proud of in the last 12 months?

Probably one of our biggest achievements in the last 12 months was the delivery of a truly company changing initiative, TaaS (Telco as a Service). This achievement stands as a testament to Vodafone's commitment to democratise best in class self service capabilities for its engineering teams across all markets. TaaS represents a major step in our transformation toward a technology obsessed company embracing multi-market collaboration to deliver a distinct competitive edge with our "develop once, reuse" model.

At its core, TaaS acts as a catalyst for indirectly improving engineering practices, compelling teams to adhere to foundational software principles such as reusability, portability, immutability, idempotency, security, microservice independence, automated deployments, and zero-touch operations.

Reusability not only streamlines development efforts but also drives consistent quality across markets and positively impacts our security challenge by reducing the attack surface by which bad actors can reach. At the same time portability empowers seamless deployment across diverse environments, safeguarding against vendor lock-in and fostering adaptability.

The emphasis on microservice independence offers the flexibility to evolve components independently, facilitating agility and targeted improvements. Automated deployments not only expedite time-to-market but also minimise human errors, enhancing overall reliability. The zero-touch operations paradigm, a pinnacle achievement, signifies a realm where services are self-sufficient, requiring minimal human intervention.

The success of TaaS encapsulates Vodafone UK's commitment to driving technological innovation while adhering to the highest standards of service quality and customer satisfaction. As the telecommunications industry navigates a landscape of rapid change, Vodafone UK's strategic Tech 2025 vision remains absolute.

What are you working on this year?

Standing is the technology equivalent of going backwards, so we're we're relentless in our pursuit of continuous improvement:

  • PACE. Full on replacement of our performance setup across the UK with a modern, scaled, efficient and cloud based performance testing service.
  • Built into our pipelines forming quality gates for all services, protecting both our developers and customers alike.
  • Bringing production level performance challenges in sprint closer to the engineering teams and product owners.

Why are events like the Cloud Excellence Awards important to the IT industry?

Events like these serve as a great innovation spotlight, highlighting innovative solutions and practices and inspiring professionals to push the boundaries of cloud computing technology.

Awards in general are an incredible motivator for IT professionals, encouraging them to excel and contribute meaningfully to the field. Spotlighting the innovations companies across the UK are taking also serves as a catalyst for progress, fostering innovation, collaboration, and growth within the IT industry as a whole.

The more we as an industry continue to push the boundaries, the higher the benchmark we set for ourselves to reach next time which in turn raises the overall quality of cloud services and solutions in the market.

Events like this - specifically awards - also contribute to the ongoing dialogue about the importance of cloud computing, promoting informed decision-making and strategic investments.

On top of all this, they are an opportunity to network with likeminded leaders facing similar challenges to exchange ideas, experiences and best practices.

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