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While most people may only see the parts of technology companies that are “public facing,” there are a myriad of systems running behind the scenes 24/7 to ensure reliability, scalability, and security. An example of this for Workday is our use of innovative public clouds, like Amazon Web Services (AWS). 

In this episode of the Workday Podcast, Jeremiah Barba, senior content marketing manager at Workday, sat down with experts from Salesforce and AWS to talk about why this is so important and the benefits it provides to Workday customers like Salesforce. His two guests were Jay Langhurst, principal IT architect for HR systems at Salesforce, and Erik Anderson, principal solutions architect at Amazon Web Services. 

Here are a few highlights of our conversation, edited for clarity. Be sure to follow us wherever you get your podcasts, and remember you can find our entire podcast catalog here

  • “When we (Salesforce) heard about public cloud, it offered a lot of capability to connect with the systems that we use. Proximity, security, reliability, reduction in maintenance, those were all things that we wanted to make progress on, and we made the leap mid-last year, and have been really thrilled.” —Jay Langhurst, Salesforce

  • “For our customers, it's faster, easier, and more cost-effective to move their existing applications to the cloud. It also means that our customers can remove a lot of the undifferentiated heavy lifting and focus on adding business value as opposed to worrying about the underlying infrastructure.” —Erik Anderson, AWS

  • “With zero downtime user experience, once a Workday’s customer tenant is migrated to AWS, they no longer have downtime during the weekly or monthly maintenance windows that were previously required. That means their users can access the UI and do all the things they want to do with Workday throughout the week.” —Erik Anderson, AWS

Jeremiah Barba: While the idea of private cloud versus public cloud may not be something that crosses your mind regularly, it’s a concept that makes a huge impact for many companies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Welcome back to the Workday Podcast, I’m Jeremiah Barba. One of the things I enjoy about hosting is the chance to learn about so many different areas of the business, including those I might not be as familiar with at the start of the interview. This was definitely one of those times, so I was grateful to learn from two experts in the space, and I think you’ll feel the same way. Erik Anderson is principal solutions architect at Amazon Web Services, and Jay Langhurst is principal IT architect for HR systems at Salesforce. So without any further ado, here’s our conversation! Erik and Jay, welcome to the podcast.

Erik Anderson: Well, thanks, Jeremiah. Nice to be here.

Barba: Absolutely. So before we dive in, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself, your background, and your work with Salesforce and AWS? And Erik, why don't you start us?

Anderson: Sure. So as I said, my name is Erik Anderson, and I'm based out of Austin, Texas. I'm a principal solutions architect here at AWS. I've been at AWS about four and a half years. And most of that time, I've been dedicated to actually helping Workday get the most out of their cloud investment. And so as a principal solutions architect, I help our customers build reliable, scalable, secure, and cost-effective deployments on AWS. And prior to that, I spent about 17 years at IBM in a variety of roles. Been looking forward to the conversation.

Barba: Wonderful. Glad to have you. And Jay, thanks for joining as well. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Jay Langhurst: Sure. Jay Langhurst, I work for Salesforce based out of the Dallas office. And I've been with Salesforce since 2011 through the ExactTarget acquisition, which is now called Salesforce Marketing Cloud, and have mostly been focused on ERP and HRS systems my entire career. But I've been in the Workday ecosystem for about the last, like, eight or nine years. And we're really enjoying all the things that we're going to talk about that we've been up to. Before Salesforce, I worked at GE Healthcare doing similar ERP-type things.

Barba: That's great. So let's jump right in. Our focus today is going to be on Salesforce's Workday tenant migration from Workday's Private Cloud to AWS and the role of Workday and AWS in that process. So Jay, why don't you set the stage for us and talk about why Salesforce decided to make that move?

Langhurst: So, you know, we had been on Workday for quite a long time. I think we were customer number eight with Workday. And so, you know, we, we understand all of the, you know, intricacies as much as we can as a customer. But when we heard about public cloud, coming along, it mirrored a lot of what we're doing internally, and it offers a lot of capability, to connect with the rest of the systems that we use, and have those tight connections, have that security that we're used to, and also the downtime and things like that. So really, that proximity, the security, the reliability, the reduction in maintenance, those were all things that were really hitting sweet spots for us for things that we wanted to make progress on and made the leap mid-last year, and have been really thrilled. All of our candidates that apply to jobs on Friday night, and there are candidates that do that and people that are on call and need to log their time, on Friday, they don't have that maintenance anymore. We have some really great, uptime, some really great reliability so far. So that's something that I think we've really benefited from.

Barba: And as a follow-up, could you expand a little bit on that migration journey? Because I know you had multiple implementation tenants. Could you talk a little bit about that?

Langhurst: Yes. If there's one thing we love more than, bunches of worker records in management, it's bunches of tenants, as well. There's always a lot of downstream systems involved. There's upstream systems involved. There's payroll, compare, all the rest of the stuff that needs to be done. And you need a certain number of tenants where the number is larger than 5 or 10, at times, which can be difficult to manage. But being able to get the infrastructure quickly, being able to get those refreshes done was something that we got into practice with Workday and went pretty seamlessly by the end. And, you know, there wasn't as much resistance towards things like grid and how much parallel compute and stuff like that there was sitting on the side of a certain data center, because in these environments, again, there's a lot more flexibility from the Workday side. The initial transition and trying to get data between the two when it comes to solution migration and stuff like that, a little bit tricky. We had to learn some new steps in our repertoire. But, once we got that done, the process has been pretty seamless since then.

Barba: So, we'll stick with you, Jay, for one more question, and then we'll get Erik involved here. I know that the migration brings a lot of value for both the business and engineering sides of the house. Could you expand on that a little bit?

Langhurst: Yeah. From the engineering side, we've already seen, you know, what some of the flexible compute could do with Workday Extend as that's been on AWS from the start. So kind of understanding how quick it is to kind of even self-service spin up or spin down your own dev tenants, engineering teams have seen the flexibility there. They want the same things, they want, kind of responsiveness that we're used to being able to see, not just a tenant that maybe we have to be more or less careful with. And so I think that's been handy as well as, we see Workday Extend and orchestration, especially now that it's kind of gone beyond Workday Extend and we have Orchestrate for integrations as being a central part. I think even the integration cloud road map of Workday shows it's a central part of all the engineering work going forward. It won't just be code. It'll also be clicks that we're also doing to move data across. And having that data as it moves into that Orchestrate kind of data flow processing layer, really close proximity to move between and really reliable network connections is very important for that 80% of integrations that Workday expects will go through that integration cloud, orchestrate level in the future.

Barba: Thank you for sharing more on that. Erik, we'll bring you in now. We haven't forgotten you. Don't worry. So I want to talk to you a little bit about these cloud migrations because you've been helping customers with cloud migrations for a while. What are some of the key benefits that you've seen for companies making this move to AWS?

Anderson: Sure. So I'll start with broad benefits, and I know we'll get into some of the Workday customer-specific ones here in a bit. In short, the benefits to migration that you're going to get to take advantage of those capabilities are now actually those that you'd have just running from AWS from the start. So what that means for our customers is that it's faster, easier, and more cost-effective to move your existing applications to the cloud. It also means that our customers can remove a lot of the undifferentiated heavy lifting and focus on adding business value as opposed to worrying about the underlying infrastructure. The second benefit is the secure cloud, and I know Jay touched on that earlier. So security really is job zero at AWS. Our core infrastructure is built to satisfy the security requirements for the military, global banks, and other high-sensitivity organizations. And with the type of data that Workday deals with, you know how important that is. The third benefit is that AWS is the largest community of customers and partners, and we're very fortunate to include both Workday and Salesforce among them. That broad experience and vibrant community of users and partners allows those customers to get access to the right skills and solutions to migrate and then modernize and meet their business goals faster. And the last one I'll mention is the fast pace of innovation. With all the changes that are happening in today's world, speed really does make a difference. And the innovation at AWS allows our customers to innovate as well.

Barba: Thanks for sharing those. You mentioned some unique benefits for Workday customers. Let's talk a little bit about that. What are some of the key benefits that Workday customers get when they migrate to AWS?

Anderson: Sure. So migrating Workday tenants to AWS is a great opportunity for Workday customers. And Jay also alluded to that earlier. And actually, when I was at Workday Rising this past year, you could really feel the genuine excitement in the conversation that I was having about those benefits. So I'll jump right into them. The first is zero downtime user experience, or ZDT for short. This was the big one that the majority of customers I spoke with were most interested in. And once a Workday's customer tenant is migrated to AWS, they no longer have downtime during the weekly three-hour maintenance windows or monthly maintenance windows that were previously required. That means that their users can access the UI and do all the things that they want to do with Workday throughout the week. I've had personal conversations with timekeeping and talent customers, just like Jay mentioned earlier, that said they wanted to migrate their tenants to AWS ASAP just because of that. On top of zero downtime, when a customer migrates their tenant to AWS, they now get regional maintenance windows so that when maintenance does need to occur, it happens at a more regional-friendly time. And for Workday's public sector customers, AWS is the only Workday environment where Workday has achieve FedRAMP moderate authority to operate.

Barba: That's great. And a quick follow-up to that, could you talk a little bit about why Workday's global presence is so important when it comes to data residency and compliance, and why the use of cloud-native services is so key to that as well?

Anderson: Sure. So Workday's global deployment on AWS actually has several benefits associated with it. The first you actually mentioned, and that's the compliance aspect. So many Workday customers require their data to reside in a particular geographic location. That could be by law in some cases or by policy in others. The second benefit of Workday's global deployment on AWS has a direct impact on the user experience, and that's latency. Workday's customers are going to have a better experience when their Workday tenant is closest to their users. That's why when-- the Workday on AWS deployments in Australia, Singapore, Germany, and to a lesser extent, Canada have really been a big benefit to Workday's users that interact with Workday on a daily basis. The second part of your question around managed services is another interesting topic. And as I alluded to earlier, the fact that AWS has the broadest and deepest portfolio means that Workday can focus their time on building functionality that benefits customers like Salesforce. Workday's really leaned into these AWS-managed services in my time here. There are many examples, but the two that just jump out at me are the adoption of Amazon EKS to make container deployments easier to manage, especially at Workday's scale. And the second is AWS's managed data migration service called DataSync. Workday actually spoke at AWS re:Invent about how DataSync helped them move over eight petabytes of data to AWS for their observability-related data lake.

Barba: Jay, we'll go back to you for this next question. So we were definitely thrilled when Salesforce recently made the move to Workday Financial Management. We're very glad for that. Could you talk a little bit about why it was the perfect time to make that move in relation to this migration to the public cloud?

Langhurst: Sure. I definitely know that the finance team, you know, when they were reviewing the Workday offerings and selecting them, had not only the great functional capabilities, but also this infrastructure in mind because we use what we call Hyperforce on our side for our internal orgs, right? Our Salesforce orgs are very important. They've got all of our data about our customers and our invoices there. And that needs to transition over into the Workday system, right? And having those on the same infrastructure and having them repeatable is, is very important, right? We've got 16 different countries that we offer Hyperforce for our own customers in, and so we know it's battle-tested. We know also then the network connection, the other capabilities between these two systems, will be even more solid.

Barba: So this one is for both of you. Our customers are doing some amazing work with Workday Extend, and I know that Salesforce is an early adopter of some of these new integrations with AWS. So I'd love to hear from both of you about what that looks like.

Anderson: Sure. So I'll start if that's all right, Jeremiah. So this capability from Extend is a great example of what AWS and Workday can do when they innovate together. So now Extend professional customers can integrate their Workday Extend apps with AWS services such as Lambda, S3, and some of our AI capabilities. This integration provides first-party support, which allows Extend customers to drag and drop components within Workday Orchestrate directly to call those AWS services. And we jointly announced this functionality at last year's DevCon, and it's now GA. And actually, at DevCon, nearly 200 developers got the opportunity to try it out, and most did during that hackathon. But I'd love to turn it over to Jay to hear what Salesforce is doing.

Langhurst: Sure. Thanks, Erik. We are exploring, just like everyone else, this AI future that we're living in, right? And one of the main ways we do that is with our Einstein One platform. That's a layer that adds in all of your CRM data, also avoids PII disclosure by doing some tokenization in there and then also reduces toxicity, while, while it's moving through. And so that's something that we were very keen to use with our Workday information, but more metadata. So a customer, on the Salesforce side, who's in employee success, they might have a question about the data that's in Workday, right? How many people made a certain type of transaction on a Tuesday? That's very difficult to get today. They've got to ask someone. They've got to make a custom report somewhere, and maybe it flows back to them. And then they actually ended up wanting to ask about a Wednesday instead of a Tuesday, right? That's no fun. It doesn't help anyone. And a lot of that metadata is accessible within Workday, right? So if we can export that over into S3 and then process it in Lambda using dynamic prompts, we can feed those prompts back into Einstein to ask it to formulate a query that will actually produce something hopefully even somewhat reliable as, you know, 20 to 50 percent of reports and a lot faster. Uh, so that's the, the use case that we're working on right now. And if you're coming to DevCon, you might see more about that.

Barba: That's great. We always love a good plug for DevCon. It's definitely expanding this year, and it'll be in Vegas, so check that out. And finally, our last question, I always like to give our guests a chance to share some advice, a little nugget of wisdom from what they have experienced. If you could offer one piece of advice to leaders who are looking to take their companies from private to public cloud, what would that be? And Jay, why don't you kick us off?

Langhurst: Sure. I would say they should just begin from the foundation and, and rethink things as they're making this transition. It's important because they're going to have to change some things anyway that they're used to, like the host name for all those integrations they might have, the API calls, the REST APIs, SOAP APIs that they have. That's going to change, right? There's not much that could be done about it. But as they're doing that, instead of just hard-coding it again, making sure that they've put that in a variable that they know how that can be quickly moved over is important because, you know, there are potential further enhancements to this. Instead of having a host name of, you know, the, hopefully there'll be a time where we have, right? We won't need to worry. Is it in WD12? Is it in WD5? Why do we care, right? It should be able to move and transition and split with the infrastructure in a really flexible way. If you make that investment now while you're there, and you're changing that, it can pay off in the future. There's also kind of a rethink that you need to make. As opposed to before when maintenance would happen, and everything would be down, you need to think again from the beginning about this maintenance, there's actually a maintenance going on in the background, not something that the people in the front end notice, right? Everything works pretty seamlessly for them. But if you're going to have integrations, you need to make sure that they obviously are not scheduled during that time, right, was the guidance before. But still, obviously, the system will still be kind of a bit running, and especially API integrations that are hitting, you don't want to hit during that switchover period of time. You don't want to overburden the system. It would still respond back. Things would still work well, but the faster you can have the system run during that kind of, you know, A/B switch, the better the system will be back up and running for everyone else that's still in there.

Barba: Great advice. Thank you for sharing that. And Erik, what about one piece of advice from you?

Anderson: Sure. So mine would just be don't wait to get started. As Jay described, it is a little bit of a process to do that move, but once you do get your tenants moved over, and you start with your IMPL tenants, you can start to see the benefits of moving over onto public cloud. And once you do figure out those integrations, you're going to end up with a much better user experience given the things like ZDT, the regional maintenance windows, etcetera. So my advice would be just don't wait.

Barba: Again, thanks to you both for being here. I think you've shared a lot of really interesting information about this move, and I'm sure that anyone looking to make this change will find it useful. So thanks again for joining me.

Anderson: Yeah.

Langhurst: Thanks, Jeremiah.

Anderson: Yep. Thanks for having us.

Barba: Absolutely. We've been talking about making the transition from private to public cloud with Erik Anderson from AWS and Jay Langhurst from Salesforce. If you enjoyed what you heard today, be sure to follow us wherever you're listening. And remember, you can find our entire catalog at I am your host, Jeremiah Barba, and I hope you have a great work day.

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