Sramana Mitra: My understanding of the large-enterprise cloud adoption dynamics would probably synthesize with what I have seen. Is that also what you see?
Mark Settle: Yes. You have part of the big hardware vendors – the BCE consortium, VMware, Cisco, or EMC – in order to engineer and sell a pre-integrated stack of server storage and network capability that you can think of as a unit of compute. Then you can just scale that by buying additional blocks of hardware capacity. That type of offering would come from companies like Dell, IBM, or others. To get to your point: Some of the large enterprises aren’t trying to go back to reverse engineering or existing hardware environments. When they go forward, they say: “Let me start building my private cloud as new challenges or new development opportunities come along. I’ll try to leverage that private cloud hardware capability that I brought in.
Of course, that necessitates the use of new tools. So, one of the startup marketplaces that has boomed in the past few years – I think you are quite close to that yourself – has had a lot of niche players that provide new system management tools for how we virtualize the environments. Those allow you to manipulate virtual machines, monitor performance closely, monitor capacity, and make capacity adjustments on the fly. They provide a lot more management flexibility in those virtualized environments.
SM: We have companies in our portfolio that are adapting various solutions. Whether it is cost of spending monitoring or managing downtime, there are also cloud management solutions which we see in our portfolio. If you have 10.000 servers that you are trying to manage and keep a mission-critical system up and running, what do you need to keep that going in terms of debugging and monitoring? What is going on in your infrastructure?
MS: You brought up the classical use of SasS applications for fields like CRM. In the past few years a whole variety of human resource applications have appeared. I am surprised by some of the domains in which SaaS tools are cropping up. Business intelligence, for example, there are a couple of firms like Good Data and Burst, which offer BI capabilities on cloud. That is really surprising. A lot of small companies can’t afford to make the capital investments needed for large data-warehouses with fancy BI reporting tools. You can have access to those through a third-party provider. There are also system management tools like Splunk for log analysis. This can all be done with someone else’s hardware. GitHub, which is a source code management system – you would think with all the intellectual property issues surrounding source codes – the last thing that would ever happen is that this type of management tool would be “SaaSified,” that people would be comfortable putting source codes on somebody else’s hardware. But they have experienced exponential growth. Even security space providers – there you have companies like Octo or CyberCloud, which are using security management capabilities – that are operating outside the firewall. This means your employees are accessing a third party provider to manage authentication, access and usage patterns.
SM: There have been several cloud security vendors that have gone public lately. Qualys or Proofpoint, for example. These are sizable SaaS security providers.
MS: Yes. It is almost as if nothing is sacred anymore. Anything can be SaaSified.
SM: Anything can be SaaSified, and the market is accepting it. The economics are very compelling. People are not too excited about managing a lot of IT. They prefer to outsource it to the most competent people who know how to do it, and just get down to their real core competencies.