“We would also classify ourselves as a disruptive know-how company”
James Eddison is Octopus Energy CTO. He co-started the company in 2015 with Greg Jackson, the company’s CEO.
Octopus has made a novel cloud-centered client service platform, Kraken, which it works by using to meet the requires of its one,500,000 consumers, and licenses to other electrical power suppliers.
An engineer by track record, James tells us how cloud know-how has been central to the growth of Octopus and why he believes in placing the electrical power of the firm’s novel know-how back again into the hands of its consumers by way of APIs.
Hello James. Give us the lower-down on Octopus Energy and what you do…
On the confront of it we’re a new entrant electrical power provider, with two vital motorists delivering superior client service to a sector which has been not notably successful in accomplishing that, and a wish to make a inexperienced dent in the universe.
We would also classify ourselves as a disruptive know-how company.
Greg and I appear from a track record of making use of know-how to clear up other people’s problems, and now we’re accomplishing that in the electrical power sector, or the “Entech” space if you want to set an acronym on it.
We started off out aiming to make the encounter of consumers and the encounter of our aid team all around know-how. Simply because we have designed Kraken with people targets in head it offers us a a great deal reduced expense to serve and a great deal increased client gratification levels than having an SAP or Oracle-style method which has its strengths but is not designed for that intent.
Ok… So are you an electrical power provider or a know-how company to start with?
That is a little bit like asking which of your children you like greater. We’re a family members with both equally, and if we weren’t an electrical power provider we would not have the simple hands-on encounter to know what’s actually significant, and if we weren’t developing our individual know-how we would not be equipped to do the electrical power providing part as properly.
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We have put in twenty yrs building significant systems, so we have acquired and I do not believe it’s conceited to say we have acquired a number of suggestions of how it must be carried out. There’s a McKinsey report we like to estimate on why most IT transformation tasks fall short, and it suggests it’s simply because the IT section is nonetheless performing as order takers somewhat than selection makers.
In our company the IT section are the selection makers: I’m a director, Greg is the CEO and is incredibly technically astute – he was crafting movie online games when he was a kid. And the broader board and management workforce have been exceptionally supportive about the opportunity and the worries of building your individual platform, so we have been equipped to supply it progressively.
Notify us why the cloud has normally been central to your company. Are there any specific applications which have been valuable?
Employing the cloud has enabled us to build our platform in a hugely agile and progressive way. You listen to about CICD – continuous integration, continuous deployment – a lot, but this is one thing we have carried out due to the fact day one each and every change in the code foundation can be tracked back again and replayed
We utilized Terraform and deployed to the cloud due to the fact day one, so each and every change in our infrastructure is also tracked in code and auditable back again to Working day Just one who did what, when and how. And when we deploy, we’re rebuilding infrastructure simply because it’s all part of the very same deployment pipeline. We’re currently accomplishing that among 40 and fifty occasions for each day.
We use load balances and also scaling groups so that the availability of sources flexes to to meet what we will need. The common existence of a server is in all probability it’s likely to be calculated in minutes, it’s very transitory in true conditions.
How does this differentiate you from your rivals?
We ended up after asked how prolonged it requires us to do a operate of 10,000 charges on our platform as opposed to the industry’s common technique. Generally electrical power suppliers are constrained by their components, or by their software package even if they chose to operate that in the cloud, and you get these prolonged procedures [to deliver charges].
If we’re accomplishing a operate of 10,000 charges, it will become 10,000 tasks, and the concern then is how speedily do we will need to do it? We could spin up 10,000 servers to procedure one each individual, or we could have 10 servers each individual accomplishing one,000. We want the operate to be carried out in an hour so we assign the suitable variety of servers.
Now a big monthly bill operate can comprise 100,000 charges, but it nonetheless just requires an hour simply because which is the time we want it to choose. We’re equipped to use the very same code and infrastructure and accomplish the job at a distinct scale.
You just lately turned an AWS lover – why did you plump for this platform around some others?
We have normally utilized AWS and I believe the most recent evolution is that we have acquired off the fence a minor little bit. Theoretically we could choose our software and port it to Google Cloud or Azure, but when you’ve acquired a significant volume of info set up and you start out to use the value-introducing applications all around items like stability that AWS gives, there is a considerable upside in investing as a lover somewhat than just dipping your toe in the drinking water. We also know they’ve acquired international info centres and can assist us prolong our achieve internationally.
You have designed a lot of APIs available – how do these assist your company?
There was under no circumstances a dialogue all around regardless of whether we would offer you APIs to assist consumers access their info. At the time we considered people could possibly want to do items like crafting a Home windows Mobile application we didn’t make an application ourselves simply because it wasn’t a current market we noticed a great deal long term in, but we figured if you give people the info they could do it on their own.
Speedy ahead 6 yrs and APIs are assisting us with our objectives of delivering clear pricing and sustainable electrical power. When we released Agile [a item which tracks electrical power offer each and every half an hour to enable consumers to reduced their charges by syncing their occasions of superior usage to occasions of superior network capacity] we designed an API available immediately, and in just a pair of weeks of the item hitting the current market we held a hack day wherever about 30 businesses turned up with suggestions, quite a few of which are now in the current market.
The APIs give an eco-method wherever other businesses can assist clear up the obstacle of producing our info uncomplicated to access for consumers. We have the geeks who will publish code on a Raspberry Pi and do amazing tasks, but we also have guys building apps for telephones and watches so that info is available to consumers all the time.
This is an market which is [usually] nonetheless making use of systems and procedures which ended up devised in the 1980s at the time of the current market deregulation. The existing tempo of change implies even a somewhat small alteration gets constructed up into a prolonged multi-million pound job, but we will need to be producing a content effects on weather change this ten years. So know-how requires to permit change, and APIs will be an interface that will be a big part of that.
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