By guest author Shaloo Shalini
Given the huge market size predictions from Gartner, IDC, and others, it is but natural that there are opportunities in cloud for entrepreneurs to come up with innovative solutions and address market needs. In the final part of the interview, Sramana and José discuss entrepreneurship opportunities in the cloud. José emphasizes the fact that cloud computing is granting small to medium-sized businesses access to the technological resources they need to compete with the big enterprises, therefore sparking much-needed innovation. By according companies of all sizes the same access to data centers, server farms, and software platforms, cloud computing is helping to create a level playing field.
SM: My final question is about entrepreneurship. You are familiar with my writing, which I do to help entrepreneurs. What can entrepreneurs do in the domain of cloud computing? What open problems are there for entrepreneurs to dig into, research, and find interesting opportunities for new startups?
JA: There is one very interesting area for me to talk about, being an entrepreneur myself before I got into Novell through Cambridge. I have started five companies. I see a lot of opportunities for new companies to address new problems or old problems in a different way using cloud computing. Think about the concept of cloud computing, where you want to get a workload ready to move into the cloud, manage the workload, secure it, measure how it’s doing, and so forth. There is an entire life cycle there that is different from on-premise solutions. In each stage in the cycle of application workloads moving to the cloud, there is an opportunity for a new company. Today when you go to the market, everybody is offering point solutions at their best.
We don’t have integrated solutions, so there is great opportunity there on the services side, particularly in SMBs. If you see what is going to come out of this cloud revolution, any small company now can have access to a lot of IT solutions at a very good price. Who is going to help these companies own these solutions, implement these solutions, make the right solution choice, and so forth?
All such solutions are opportunities for services. I mean professional services to coach all these small and medium businesses on how to leverage cloud computing. Look at software, the iPhone, and the 250,000 applications that were developed in less than two years! Well, that can happen in the cloud environment, too. This is because anyone who is willing to develop and create applications and can connect with the right cloud provider and get immediate distribution of that application.
We talked about Verizon and also about different infrastructure providers who want to move up the stack. For them, what this means is having applications. But they are not going to develop the applications and sell them – they are going to recruit people who can build those applications. However, they are going to help them to distribute those applications. Software distribution is a problem today.
You can’t imagine how much time we spend on this, how much time my team spends searching the marketplace to see what is available, what is new and what works and what doesn’t. If cloud computing creates that opportunity for anyone who wants to develop an application to leverage the new distribution channel, then it offers good opportunities on the services side. Entrepreneurs can bank on cloud computing to help them reach customers faster. These are is my high-level thoughts on entrepreneurship in the cloud.
SM: Can you give us specific examples of services? Are you talking about integration in the cloud? For every cloud computing vendor, there is a need for a custom service provider who handles the integration piece in terms of really understanding the vendors’ APIs and is able to do the integration in a reasonable period. There are probably thousands of cloud vendors out there, but there also are thousands of variations on outsourced integration service providers.
JA: Take a small or medium business, let’s say a new company or a company that is trying to grow but doesn’t have any IT organization. In that case, who do you go to when you are trying to decide which accounting application and document management solutions to buy? There is a market need for entities that can take all these technologies and help SMBs to deploy them and tailor them to a certain business’s needs such that they can get started quickly. Imagine if you go to a cloud solution provider X and they say, what you require is Google docs.
So you might say, you already gave me a console in your cloud-based service. Now, what are the best solutions for me? I don’t have time or expertise to deal with vendors. I need some advice, and who can give it to me? There is the concept of cloud sourcing, which is exactly that: Instead of outsourcing, it’s cloud-sourcing because this approach is going to leverage all cloud opportunities and focus on SMBs. This aggregation is one of the services most commonly required by any new business or SMBs.
I think cloud computing is going to make the level playing field a reality. A level playing field for large and small companies. Imagine outsourcing consulting and integration services together leveraging cloud solutions for small and medium businesses. Those are the kind of things that come to my mind as great opportunities for entrepreneurs.
SM: José, this discussion was very interesting and it has been a pleasure to talk to you. There was a lot of wonderful information that you shared. I appreciate your taking this time and look forward to keeping in touch.
JA: Any time, Sramana. Thank you for the opportunity. I enjoyed this interview very much.