Sramana Mitra: I’m also hearing from everywhere that hybrid cloud is a big trend. Are you suggesting that hybrid cloud transition is not well managed and there’s not a lot of infrastructure supporting that right now?
Momchil Michailov: Correct. Hybrid cloud is a lovely marketing terminology. Traditional data center – Cisco infrastructure, Cisco UCS servers, EMC storage – are all on-premise. You’ve got all of the nuts and bolts of a traditional data center and then you want to “hybrid” this whole thing or bridge it together with a public cloud infrastructure which is on commodity servers. Most cases that we’ve seen, including the largest providers like Amazon, are not VMware-driven. It’s either Xen, KVM, or OpenStack. It’s like mixing oil and water. So to talk about hybrid cloud where you have two completely different types of infrastructure and complete inability to bridge the networks is a bit of an oxymoron.
The other piece is that on-premise applications have certain SLAs, latency, and response time. You start to bridge clouds, then all of a sudden, you have the latency of the internet. That data center might be in Seattle, Oregon, Canada, or Mexico. Applications can’t sustain that type of transition. As elegant as it sounds to talk about a hybrid cloud and bridging public and private cloud and using infrastructure as a service or on demand basis, the reality is you really can’t bridge them. Public cloud providers won’t let you bridge your network. There are security issues. There’re even physical obstructions in the way of doing that.
We have seen customers create private cloud spanning where they have multiple sites. They enable some elasticity in that, but that’s a significant issue. The other issue that we’ve seen specifically with private, public, and hybrid cloud is that OpenStack has certain capabilities. VMWare and Microsoft have certain capabiltities. They don’t talk to each other. It’s a question of protecting, to a certain extent, your customers’ install base. You’re not going to open all of these up and allow customers to move back and forth. There is a bit of vendor control issues there that also need to be worked with. It’s something that customers are desperately looking for. I don’t think we’ve seen anything even close to what they’re looking for at this point. There’re good reasons behind it.
Sramana Mitra: Do the customers really know what they’re looking for specifically? That’s another problem often. In a situation like that, the status quo is unsatisfactory, but no one really has a clear idea of what it is they’re looking for.
Momchil Michailov: I think this is one of those times where there’s a lot of disruption in the data center. We are certainly involved very heavily in the disruption in the storage stack. I’ve been in storage for north of 20 years at this point. In the 19 years of my career, I’ve never seen the level of innovation and architectural changes that is happening over the last couple of years. That goes across the board. The public cloud certainly does that. What we have seen at this point is that the public cloud is good for certain workloads and certain applications as a service. It’s not all that good for others for multiple reasons.
Customers are starting to understand that a lot of their systems are interconnected. If I’m running certain systems on-premise that need to be tied to my email but my email is in the public cloud, the two don’t talk to each other. I’ve got a missing link. I think customers like the idea. CIOs are very interested in hyperscale Facebook-like data center economics, but it’s still more of an itch versus being able to scratch it. There’s awareness of what they would like to achieve and what they cannot achieve. The ultimate bridging is still in the very early stages just because we’re not even seeing the enterprise architecture and the enterprise level availability and performance support in public cloud vendors. Customers are a little bit at the early stage of that thought process. How do we bridge this? What do we need? How do we need to put it together?
We have seen a lot of system integrators getting very interested because you currently have these buckets of cloud system integrators and resellers. Each one knows their own territory and their capabilities. We need to see these two merge. When we see these two merge, we’ll then be able to have more sophisticated infrastructure conversations with end-users about, “This is the piece you can move to the public cloud. This is the piece that you’re going to keep on-premise. If you have to have things on premise, this is how you’re going to move it in the public cloud and this is how you balance your workload economics.”