Mark Settle is the chief information officer of BMC, a Houston-based company that provides software solutions to any size business. Mark has been in this position for four years. Before BMC, he worked as CIO of Corporate Express and Arrow Electronics, and he was executive vice president of the Systems & Processing division of Visa. In this interview he explains new trends in cloud computing, big data management, and how these affect medium-sized and large businesses.
Sramana Mitra: Welcome back to the Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing series, Mark. We have talked before, so our audience knows you. I think the last time we spoke was some time ago, and we were still trying to figure out how America or the world was looking at cloud computing as a trend. At this point, the trend is sweeping over the IT-infrastructures around the world. There is no ambiguity – the trend is here to stay and cloud adaption is quite significant. In today’s conversation, I would like to address some specific issues which you have a lot of insight to.
Mark Settle: OK, that sounds good.
SM: The area I would like to explore with you today is cloud services management. Let me be specific about where I see the trends developing. There is a group of people who are stopping with public cloud services. Then there is a group of people who have developed a series of cloud services and who are using a hosted manage service infrastructure. There are others who have very large hosted infrastructures which they are using to either deliver their cloud services or commission their cloud services for their internal IT. Finally, there are people who are using private cloud services. Is that a reasonable segmentation of the cloud infrastructure?
MS: I think so. We all suffer under a lot of ambiguity around nomenclature when it comes to the cloud. I tend to step back and look at the difference between some of the small- and medium-sized enterprises versus some of the larger enterprises. Here at BMC we spend a lot of time with customers that are significantly large enterprises – Fortune 1000 type companies. For the smaller companies, the SMBs, it is a lot easier to make the transition to public cloud services or to hosting. They don’t have the pockets to build up a staff or make the capital investments. The very small guys start out on a mission in life to never own a data center or a server. They buy the avocation to avoid having to manage all the IT infrastructure.
As you mentioned before, they can start to manage their capacity by going to an offshore server that will provide them with equipment on the floor. They can keep that off the balance sheet and just provide access to those capabilities. Others have moved over to some of the platform service providers like Azure from Microsoft or Force.com from Salesforce. They can actually build applications on those platforms. As you predicted, the smaller guys are a little more aggressive than the unconventional ones. The large enterprises are still dipping their toe in – they are still testing. As you know, there is a lot of inertia in large enterprises. They have made a lot of investments over time, and they have well established ways of doing business. They are probably a little more risk averse than smaller companies are. I am not aware of any real-life Fortune 500 company that has taken on a mission of saying: “Let’s retire 30% of the hardware and data center and transfer all those compute operations to a Rackspace provider or to an Amazon web-service provider.” I think they are marginal use cases. People find ways to make use of those facilities in this very experimental “proof of concept” fashion. I don’t see a lot of large enterprises rushing headlong into embracing those capabilities.
SM: As far as we heard, it is more the flexible infrastructure that is going to public clouds, like Amazon, for example. You are absolutely right. On the large enterprise side, we don’t see that at all. Where we see public cloud adoption in enterprises are in the application areas. CRM has most likely been the leading one going to public cloud – and a few other public cloud services – but also when it comes to certain major apps, there is a lot of private cloud adoption in large enterprises.