If you ask Patrice Michel what he loves most about working at the Cloud Communications division of NTT, he’ll say “What’s really motivating with our company is that it’s international, so we’re able to work with a lot of different people. You can start your day with a call in Asia, then work with a team in Europe and finish with a meeting in the US.”
Currently Senior Innovation & Development Manager based in Montpellier, one of his major goals is to develop “Intelligent Communication”. He build microservices to break down monolithic architecture to ensure scalability and fault tolerance through hybrid cloud and serverless design.
We asked him about his latest project, as well as his experiences with our company.
Q. Our first question concerns your current hybrid cloud project. Can you tell us more about it?
Yes, we’re building a new system based on independent microservices that together manage the customer journey from provisioning to billing. These services are mainly hosted in the Microsoft Azure public cloud, but this cloud is also securely connected to our own data centres in which we also use resources. It is a hybrid cloud architecture: the advantage is to allow us to use the best of the capacities offered by the public cloud and our private data centres, according to our needs.
Q. You spoke about “the journey to Intelligent Communication”. We assume AI is involved?
Exactly. We are moving from “Unified Communication”, which brings together different modes of communication (voice, video, email, collaboration, document sharing, etc.) within the same tool, to “Intelligent Communication”. It adds the potential of machine learning and cognitive services to transcribe audible speech into searchable text, detect people and emotions in a video stream, automatically index the recording, and much more!
Q. You also talk about your “tribe” based in the US, France, Singapore and India. Is it difficult to manage such a far-flung group?
It’s obviously not as simple as managing a local team, especially in our case, with a team dispersed in very distant regions and time zones. But our unified communication tools make it possible by allowing a mix of live and offline discussions around projects, sharing and editing documents and code with several people simultaneously, and enabling consultation of the progress of tribe tasks online. In addition, the micro-services approach also helps by simplifying technical dependencies between projects.
Q. You were Product Integration Manager, then Senior Architecture Manager. Would you say these were logical “steppingstones” on your career path to your current position?
I’ve had four different jobs during the 10 years I’ve been here. They combined into a rich experience that afforded me a full view of the software factory, from quality to architecture, from development to business analysis.
Q. You’ve won lots of awards over the years, including two 1st and one 2nd place awards at Arkalab (formerly Innovation Week). What do you like best about these competitions?
It’s a really challenging event! You must have good ideas, find motivated and competent teammates to share your vision, build a demo in just a few days, and demonstrate it to the jury with technical and commercial profiles. You need to share, be creative, and focus on business value… Arkalab is probably one of the best experiences I’ve had, and which gave me many things that I’ve reused in my daily work.
Q. One last question: what advice would you give to someone who wants to work in Cloud communications today? What are the skills they need in 2020?
I’d say the most important skills are curiosity and a knowledge of AI. It’s important to be curious about how we can provide a set of services and integrate them easily with other tools. AI is also crucial for career success today. We need people who can extract, sort, and reference the information contained in media flows which are increasing exponentially every year.