Sramana Mitra: Cloud is a very large practice for us. One of the big trends driving both cloud and mobile, and to some extend Big Data, are these platforms. There are lots of platforms now available as a service that you can build upon. We’re seeing that as a major phenomenon because you no longer have to build the whole stack. When you were trying to start a company in the ’90s or even in the 2000 decade, for a long time you had to build the whole stack. Now, you can just take advantage of other people’s stacks and add the value-added layer on top without having to deal with the plumbing. That makes it a lot cheaper to bring a product to market for a small company.
Paul Zolfaghari: Interestingly enough though, it’s not even limited to just the small companies. I’ll just give you some insight that’s a little bit surprising to us. When we launched the MicroStrategy cloud edition, the actual initial companies that flocked to our cloud are really larger companies. Companies like Four Seasons Hotels, Johnson & Johnson, and Dr Pepper. Each of these companies is actually taking a mission-critical application and putting it on our cloud. The cloud is able to support the requirement in total for small-and medium-sized businesses and it’s also satisfying the very substantial departmental requirements of large entities.
Sramana Mitra: That is very true. So tell me a little about what’s in your cloud. This is a trend that is very relevant. Tell me a bit more about the platform infrastructure on the cloud you provide.
Paul Zolfaghari: Our legacy as a company is being a business intelligence and analytics company and we have our own proprietary analytics and mobile platforms. Those are in our cloud. We actually chose to go beyond that and build a true business intelligence and analytics end-to-end infrastructure that we could make available to our customers. In our cloud, we have database vendors, ETL, and then we obviously have the MicroStrategy layer. We have it running on an optimized hardware configuration. We then can provide business intelligence analytics as a true service to companies that wanted to put it on the cloud.
I would argue that to the extent that people are looking at options, this is very distinct from what many of our competitors have done. Many of our competitors and companies in the space have only chosen to really host their part of the stack. Many of them aren’t actually hosting. What they’re doing is they’re just making a version of their software available in a third-party data center like Rackspace or AWS.
MicroStrategy has really taken a comprehensive view of cloud in what we’re trying to do. That is to build a total stack that anybody would need to run and manage an analytics application, and to run it ourselves rather than have it in somebody else’s data center.
Sramana Mitra: You have your own data center and you host everything on your own data center. What about the people who are developing applications on your stack? Are you hosting their apps as well on your data center?
Paul Zolfaghari: I may have misstated what I said. Think of it this way. They’re effectively giving us their data. We have the database, ETL, business intelligence layer, and the mobile layer. We are delivering effectively the application back to them. We do that very well. We also have customers though who are choosing just to have us host the MicroStrategy layer and connect from our cloud.