John Michelsen is the chief technology officer of CA Technologies. John studied at Trinity University and is considered one of the great innovators in business IT, with over 12 patents awarded to him. In this interview John talks about trends in the business IT world and how it has developed over the years. Furthermore, he discusses possibilities and opportunities for entrepreneurs and gives us his views on innovators in this space.
Sramana Mitra: John, let’s give our readers a bit of context about what is happening at CA these days. We had your predecessor, Don Ferguson, on one of our series a couple of years ago. When we started doing these series, there was still ambiguity on where the cloud movement was going and how much adoption there was in enterprises. Today there is no such ambiguity. It is formally established in the business world that cloud computing is a major trend – there are huge companies being built and major technology companies that are shifting their entire strategy to the cloud. Given that evolution, where are we today, from your vantage point? What are you doing at CA and how do you see the world?
John Michelsen: There are a number of ways I can address that. When you spoke with Don a couple of years back, he would have probably told you that we have a business unit that is dedicated to it and we are making acquisitions specifically to build out a portfolio there. But just like in the general market, within CA cloud has permeated everything we do. There isn’t a business unit that is already fully embracing and delivering via the cloud – whether it is SaaS-based applications in our service portfolio management business, the automation capabilities of IT management and monitoring or the security business that we moved to the cloud and SaaS-based deployment model, embracing cloud and SaaS-based authentication. Cloud is a cross-cut, it is not a vertical. It is its own horizontal that has touched every business unit in a fundamental way.
SM: In various areas in which you are active – you have major business units – I would like to understand on a more granular level what you see. You also said you have done a lot of acquisitions, so I would like to understand the thought process behind those acquisitions as well as what you saw there and why you made those decisions.
JM: There are some cool use cases for cloud. In fact, those use cases have clouded a prerequisite. SaaS is one example. SaaS was an isolated use case where there were certain applications that were not integrated into the rest of the business. Today our customers are asking us and we are moving them to SaaS-based consumption of just about every capability we provide, even if that capability is just monitoring. In fact, recently we issued a press release about our CAAPM – CA Application Performance Management – being fully delivered as a SaaS capability. This is the first time that a truly enterprise-class APM offering is being delivered on a pure SaaS model. This is not only because this is where we want to take the market, it is also a result of customers saying, “He didn’t know I am operating my own applications on premise, I still want the SaaS adoption model. I want the on-and-off capacity and consumption model, I want the paper use, I want that whole new type of consumption.”
I think that is permeating [everything] now. It is not an isolated incident, and it is not about Salesforce.com, because that is what it was just a couple of years ago. Now it is permeating every business.
Another reason is that use cases like big data and the Internet of things are all about cloud – especially public cloud. We can’t predetermine the size of these data sets, the amount of bandwidth we are going to consume, or the amount of compute it is going to take to reach a peak. Think about auto makers that have their cars full-time connected to cloud-based services that are streaming into and out of them. Think about all the ways we are collecting data sets from across different environments, whether they are on or off premise, and we are collecting all of that together to do big data analytics. That predetermines the need for public cloud.