By Sramana Mitra and guest authors Pablo Chacin and Saurabh Mallik
SM: Okay, let’s now switch the discussion to what you see from where you sit – what would you say are open problems in cloud computing where entrepreneurs can zero in and build businesses to solve problems?
PT: Well, I was going to say, you have a lot of great views on entrepreneurship.
SM: I have a view on entrepreneurship, true. But you have the view on the direct problem. Since I am not running a very large IT organization, and I do not deal with the various touchpoints – that’s a view I don’t have.
PT: Well, one of my thoughts is that the software industry is growing and many platforms are coming into existence or prominence. One opportunity is for entrepreneurs to attach themselves to a platform and create value on top of that platform. I think that entrepreneurs who can add functions to large-scale, widely adopted security products such as WebSphere and Tivoli that can increase those platforms’ value certainly can create interesting businesses based on that.
I think that in the area of security, cybersecurity in the cloud, especially in multitenanted environments, is obviously an opportunity. I think there’s also an opportunity in this whole virtualization space and point devices, because as people start using more and more things such as BlackBerries, iPads, and Android devices, you want to segment their personal life from their business life on those devices. You want to have a different level of security and governance, and then there’s also opportunity in being able to deliver those applications to endpoints as these devices proliferate. I see a lot of opportunity for people who understand the industry in specific ways and understand where they can add value on top of the cloud stack, as it is evolving, and take advantage of those scales. I do think there are a lot of opportunities for entrepreneurs.
SM: Just to drill down into three areas that you touched upon to see if I can extract one or two concrete examples of business ideas, if you were thinking about leaving IBM and becoming an entrepreneur, you might work on these ideas. So let’s talk about Tivoli and WebSphere add-ons, just an example of a problem worth solving.
PT: Well, as we have been expanding our Tivoli portfolio from the acquisition of BigFix, we’re trying to get more into the security and management of those endpoints. We are continuing to add beyond just workstations, especially for these rapidly evolving platforms such as Android devices and BlackBerries, iPhones, and iPads. Certainly there is a lot of system management, especially from the point of view of security, that will be very important and will be synergistic to a platform such as a Tivoli suite of security offerings.
SM: So you basically tie the Tivoli–WebSphere portfolio with the endpoint desktop virtualization point of non-PC devices’ problem of security – the problem you are solving is security, roughly speaking.
PT: The other thing I wanted to add is that certainly there is one side of entrepreneurs creating new companies and what’s happening around here [at IBM]. I think on the other side there are opportunities to help those organizations such as nonprofits so that they will be able to plug into the architecture at a much more affordable rate over time, with more features and greater function and security. I get to work with some nonprofit organizations, and many struggle with some basic tasks such as disaster recovery, backing up of data, and so on, so something I see is to help nonprofits create an IT backbone so that they will be able to plug in and give their employees more robust application services and offerings, which I think is also an opportunity for entrepreneurs because many of the organizations that do a lot of work for society are somewhat left out from an information technology structure standpoint.