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Thought Leaders In Cloud Computing: Donald Ferguson, CTO of CA Technologies (Part 1)

Posted on Wednesday, Sep 8th 2010

By Sramana Mitra and guest authors Shaloo Shalini and Bhavana Sharma

As enterprises across industry verticals around the globe are drawn into the obvious benefits of adopting cloud computing to begin their own cloud journeys, IT management solution providers such as CA Technologies are a unique case study. They not only deploy cloud computing–based technologies and solutions within their organization and reap huge benefits in their business processes, they also deal with issues of supporting their offerings. Before the advent of the cloud, their offerings were mostly on-premise. Now such companies are moving these offerings to the new SaaS-based model, making them cloud ready, so to speak. In addition, large companies are always on the lookout for technology acquisitions which can augment their portfolios. This is where the startups part of the ecosystem and innovation become relevant, especially with reference to cloud computing.

How is CA trying to stay a few steps ahead of its customers when it comes to cloud computing? Does it draw on its experience of using cloud-based technologies or have strategies that helps it with respect to cloud computing? How does it envision the future cloud market to look given its string of acquisitions in this space: NetQoS, Oblicore, Cassat, 3Tera and most recently Arcot Systems? What is its cloud game plan? In this interview, Sramana and Donald Ferguson discuss some of the finer aspects of cloud computing adoption at large IT enterprise such as CA and share thoughts on the white spaces waiting to be filled in with innovative solutions in cloud computing. We uncover some cloud trends and insights from a large enterprise perspective:

  • Use of cloud technologies for product beta – which is one of the core business processes of IT software companies. With hosted hardware or IaaS cloud-based infrastructures provided to customers, they can try the product beta from software vendors without having to invest in machine and software resources of their own.
  • Emergence or reincarnation of composite or aggregate applications which invoke Web-callable APIs or cloud services and can be deployed on several PaaS candidates.
  • The next level of intelligent search may become a big area in the future – we are seeing action in that space in the form of Findthebest-like offerings today.

Dr. Donald Ferguson, chief technology officer at CA Technologies, is responsible for leading the design and architecture of all CA products, innovation, technical initiatives, and the product technical strategy. He chairs the distinguished engineer council and also serves on CA Technologies’ executive leadership team, which supervises the business and technology strategies for the company as a whole.

Prior to joining CA Technologies in 2008, Donald was a Microsoft technical fellow, working in the office of the CTO on various projects exploring the future of enterprise software, with a special emphasis on Web services and Internet application platforms.

In 2001 he became an IBM fellow, IBM’s highest technical honor. As a chief architect for the IBM Software Group, where he led the architecture and initiatives for the DB2, WebSphere, Tivoli, Lotus, and Rational product families and worked on a number of J2EE, SOA and Web service initiatives, specifications and standards.

Dr. Ferguson earned his PhD in computer science from Columbia University. He has approximately thirty technical journal and conference publications and holds more than a dozen patents.

About CA Technologies

CA Technologies was founded by Charles B. Wang along with Russ Artzt and a handful of colleagues in New York state. It was known as Computer Associates International, Inc. when in started in 1976. The company’s first product, called SORT, delivered full-function sort, merge, and copy capabilities for the OS/390 market.

More than thirty years later, it is one of the world’s biggest software companies with 13,200 staff member and revenues crossing $4.4 billion mark in its 2010 financial year. CA leads the IT management software pack with a large product portfolio covering all major aspects of enterprise IT management software and solutions with expertise across all IT environments be it mainframe and physical to virtual and cloud.

SM: Let’s start the conversation with your overall impression of where you are today, from both your organization’s point of view and from what you are seeing in the industry? How do you visualize the progress of cloud computing? Has it gone beyond pilots and evaluation? What kind of adoption do you see in general?

DF: In terms of adoption, it is gone beyond pilots and proof of concept. We see concrete examples of customers that are actually using cloud computing in production. We ourselves have done it in a couple of places. The first one is an internal site we called ‘Labs on Demand. It is basically a shared pool of resources, servers, networking, and storage, and we use it in our development and test life cycle. You can go to the Labs on Demand portal and schedule the allocation of resources, schedule deployment of images, and then run the tests or run the build. To that end, we do that with our automation products, and we are doing an exploration of it that is based on more recent projects – for products like AppLogic, and CA virtual. That system has the ability to spill over. I think a term people use [for spilling over] is cloud bursting, which is a kind of a bad term because when cloud bursts [in meteorological terms], it refers usually to a bad thing. Anyway, what I mean here is if we are oversubscribed, we would cloud burst out on things like Amazon, EC2 or Rackspace for this ‘Labs on Demand’ facility.

[Note to readers: CA saved $16 million and more than twenty-five years of developers’ time by automating provisioning for Labs On Demand service. More details are available here.]

This segment is part 1 in the series : Thought Leaders In Cloud Computing: Donald Ferguson, CTO of CA Technologies
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Thought Leaders In Cloud Computing: Donald Ferguson, CTO of CA … | Bizcloud Network Tuesday, September 14, 2010 at 8:10 AM PT