How to Scale from Zero to $9 Billion in Under 4 Years

Kenneth Johnson / June 16, 2017

I have personally enjoyed watching the Searchable Log of All Conversation and Knowledge that we know as “S.L.A.C.K.” move from being a tool known only to engineers, to fundamentally disrupting well-established business tools like email. Now that Slack has made a big splash among market watchers with its $9 billion valuation and acquisition suiters like Amazon, Google and Microsoft, news outlets everywhere are marveling at SLACK’s meteoric rise in under 4 years, having been launched in February of 2014.

When I see a story like this, I think about the incredible task of scaling an infrastructure to support growth this rapid. Few people outside of the cloud world would even believe it were possible. Slack’s own director of operations recognized this:

“The realities of physical space, hardware acquisition, replacement parts, running a server facility with all its costs—all the physical manifestations that can lead to breakages—made a traditional IT environment impractical for an Internet startup. Plus, we would have needed an extra layer of expertise just to run the infrastructure. We could have operated with that kind of IT infrastructure, but the cost and complexity would have made it much harder to launch the business.”

But knowing that Slack is hosted on Amazon Web Services makes Slack’s story seem like a million others. Slack’s architecture on AWS is extremely simple, It may not make for a great “geek-out” session, but it is beautifully simple. According to the AWS case study on Slack, the architecture is based almost entirely on AWS core services like EC2, EBS and S3, and to me that is the beauty of it: Slack has been able to scale to a $9 billion valuation utilizing AWS services that are accessible to every company, at any level of sophistication and legacy architecture.

At Blue Sentry Cloud, we help our clients get the most out of the AWS platform and its scalable services. We assist companies with IoT projects, Big Data problems, serverless deployments, etc. But, as great as those technologies are, nothing drives our emotional engine like transforming businesses. And cloud transformation is possible, no matter where you are on your cloud journey. We love migrating traditional IT workloads to AWS, and watching companies beginning to enjoy the benefits of scalability, agility and costs savings, every bit as much as we enjoy deploying micro-services on AWS Lambda.

So, I invite you to take our Cloud Maturity Index, and think through your own roadmap to transformation. No matter where you are on the journey today, you can achieve tangible benefits that lead to a real competitive advantage. It’s not about cool tech; it’s about building a better business.