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Thought Leaders In Cloud Computing: Sanjay Mirchandani, CIO of EMC (Part 3)

Posted on Sunday, Nov 28th 2010

By Sramana Mitra and guest author Shaloo Shalini

Sramana: You mention private clouds. How do you decide on what to put on the private cloud versus what to procure from the public cloud as part of your cloud strategy?

Sanjay: It is a journey. The journey that we are on at EMC is to virtualize our infrastructure. This will get us into the next level where we have a highly elastic cloud-like infrastructure; [we] call it our private cloud. I shared with you earlier that we have approximately 75% of the infrastructure virtualized at EMC today. Next year, our infrastructure will be close to 100% virtualized. So, I’m providing infrastructure and platforms, in a short time across the company, as a service in a private cloud-like environment. As for the applications, we are going top down. In the case of newer applications we require, if those are available in the cloud, we consider them, engage with respective vendors, and bring them in, for example, Salesforce. As more and more existing applications come up for renewal or there are new application requirements, we decide upon them case by case, based on scale requirements. Anything else that we decide to bring in-house, those need to address availability and have to be private cloud aware. In our case, it is a staggered decision set. However, if there is a functionality that we are looking to have in EMC and it is available in the cloud and meets our needs, I’m happy to go look at it. If it doesn’t, then it has to be virtualized and cloud enabled on-premise. So ideally, we work with a private cloud in our internal infrastructure at EMC.

Sramana: Does that imply that you have a preference in making those selections? Do you prefer putting applications in your private cloud to putting them in the public cloud?

Sanjay: No. What I shared earlier was that I’m very opportunistic about applications. I don’t consider myself an expert building CRM systems, ERP systems, or any kind of system if it already exists. We build if it’s part of our core IP or core profit. This is what you need to ask; otherwise, if there is a better application with sensible economic value and from a reputable company then the logical decision point is to get it from outside. I am very happy to look at a cloud based–application, if one is available.

Sramana: I see. What about business model changes as part of cloud adoption at EMC? How are business models evolving for you as you adopt more of these cloud applications? Can you share what are the changes you like as a cloud adopter and what are the ones you do not like? What are your cost savings?

Sanjay: Well, we are well aware when we move within a private cloud infrastructure that the economics of providing an infrastructure and platforms gets a lot more efficient as you provision a cloud-like infrastructure across the enterprise as opposed to, say, provisioning stack-by-stack for a business group, or country by country, whatever measure was prevalent at your setup. As you build a cloud-like infrastructure within the enterprise, a private cloud, that should bring about efficiency within the enterprise. It also brings you a softer benefit of [less] time to market. This is because with the cloud paradigm, you are not spending as much time trying to figure out what is your stack of management tools, what skills are needed, are there people with those skills available, which consultants do you need to bring in, and so on. You take away some such steps from those more classic decisions on technology.

On a public cloud-like service, you know the business model is different, you pay by user or by some other per use model. You are not buying racks and stacks, you are essentially buying as you use. That is different, and it takes a bit of thinking and getting used to. But if it is done right, it makes good business sense. So, yes, the business models are changing and changing rapidly. It actually makes for a better conversation for business because they like the conversation where they pay for what they use as opposed to paying for peak loads.

Sramana: What is the conversation like with vendors you are trying to bring in the private cloud?

Sanjay: Vendors that I am trying to bring in – well, that starts with your application stack being virtualized. In our case it is on VMWare, and can I manage it with a common set of management tools that are virtual machine aware. In the case of vendors whose application stacks we are already using, our conversation is on the lines of, When are you going to get it virtualized, when are you bringing up your solution on the virtual platform, and so on. This is now becoming less and less because most applications that have a decent installed base have obviously started that process or have moved along the virtualization path.

Sramana: The question I was asking is related to vendors in the public cloud. The business model from, their point of view, is fairly straightforward. As you said earlier, it is a utility-based model, per-user model, per concurrent user model, or some variation thereof. But when you bring them into the private cloud at EMC, the business model changes again, doesn’t it?

Sanjay: Yes, it has to change. You have got to stop thinking about servers and cores, and you talk more about the utility model. I think it is going to change over time. That piece is a little more complex, but I think over time that stuff is going to evolve.

Sramana: What is your perspective on integration in the cloud? Is cloud computing bringing on larger integration challenges, or are these integration challenges getting smaller in the cloud?

Sanjay: It depends on the integration project and its specific requirements. It could be larger or it could be smaller. It really depends on the application you bring from your public cloud into your private environment. So, it really depends at the level of integration. With the cloud, what is changing are the approaches to integration. We are using a lot more agile methodology. We are using more of an Internet approach to integration and adding more functionality over time. With clouds, there is more coupling of technologies instead of hardcoding of technology with regards to integration of pieces. I think the approach is evolving. In my mind it is not so much the complexity; it depends on how deep the integration needs are.

Sramana: Are you seeing standards emerge in the cloud?

Sanjay: Well, standards will emerge, that is a given. In the early days of any technology, you sort of have to be the torchbearer and see where it goes, and then standards emerge. With clouds too, I think standards will emerge and are emerging.

This segment is part 3 in the series : Thought Leaders In Cloud Computing: Sanjay Mirchandani, CIO of EMC
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