SM: I would love to learn more as data emerges. Also, standardization is a result of this process, right?
RT: Absolutely. Starting with development and testing, which I didn’t even mention when I talked about the workloads, that is the easiest place where you can get great value through virtualization, standardization, and automation. That’s a process in which we are deeply involved with a lot of clients. Moving into production workloads, you are absolutely right. You can look at these production workloads and ask, Do I need these ten different tools with different functions? What if I offered one tool in the cloud? It’s similar to analytics, where there are ten different systems doing reports on average deal size by industry. By moving it to the cloud and standardizing on a report, you could do ten custom or unique reporting systems with a single standardized one.
SM: I am going to switch the conversation to entrepreneurship. The work that I do today is something that has come out is the 1M/1M program. We are trying to help one million entrepreneurs reach a million dollars in revenues, and a lot of entrepreneurs are learning from these conversations. So, what would be your guidance to these entrepreneurs who are looking to solve problems? What do you think are entrepreneurship opportunities that are on your radar that larger vendors are perhaps not solving that someone with a new company or a new approach can take on?
RT: I assume you are not talking about new IT or software companies but rather about entrepreneurs who deliver these services ?
SM: Yes, people who can deliver services around these open problems. They don’t have to be very large companies. Maybe there are very niche problems that need to be solved and that have not been solved by the current set of vendors or that are perhaps too small for IBM to go after.
RT: Well, there are a couple of different ways to answer that. One, there are technical hurdles in cloud computing. So, where are the technology gaps that need to be filled? Just look at any of the lists of consulting companies have about what people say are the biggest inhibitors to cloud, and they are always in the same set of areas – security and privacy, integration, billing, charge-back, and reliability. What’s needed are cloud infrastructures through which you can deliver service level agreements, which you can manage. These are all the things that are expected of IT managers – they are going to want to expect their cloud service providers. There is a set of technical hurdles in hardware, an area in which we acquired a company called DataPower because there were similar types of challenges in the world of service-oriented architecture and XML, and DataPower chose to solve that problem by burning it right into the hardware and solving it at the chip level, accelerating the processing of XML documents. This was a great breakthrough. I think that kind of innovation is there for the taking in cloud computing, whether it’s an appliance, software box, or service. Any of these models can be successful in the cloud delivery model.
SM: One thing that you have mentioned is the capability to charge back to a company’s different divisions utilization of private cloud services. I have not seen public cloud providers offer this feature.
RT: Exactly. In the area of fine-grained usage, fine-grained billing, accounting, and integration with financial systems, I think there is a lot of innovation to be done. That’s on the technical side. The other thing I will say to entrepreneurs is that cloud computing has completely changed the way to think about coming to market of any kind of business. You don’t need to buy servers. If you are a startup company, you don’t have to go out and buy hardware and software, and you don’t have to wait for that stuff to be configured. Think of putting up a Web storefront – I do not want to own a server; I want to run them out of a cloud. Even if you are looking to form a not-for-profit or some sort of service, cloud computing should be your first choice for delivering that capability. We are seeing lots of different ways to leverage the cloud. I was onstage with a small company that can now bid on contracts they previously could not bid on owing to the amount of modeling and simulation required for their product, because even though they were an engineering company, they did not have the CPU power in their servers to run all those simulations. Now, they can run their simulation for weeks on the cloud and not have the capital expense.