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Thought Leaders In Cloud Computing: Sanjay Mirchandani, CIO of EMC (Part 5)

Posted on Tuesday, Nov 30th 2010

By Sramana Mitra and guest author Shaloo Shalini

Sramana: Which are some of the emerging, cutting-edge thinkers from the vendor community who you believe are starting to take the cloud out in altogether new directions? Ten years ago, salesforce.com was the vendor that was taking this movement in a new direction, and it has matured into a strong company since. Do you see any similar vendors on the horizon that are really pushing the envelope?

Sanjay: I’m not going to get into the specific companies here, but I would say is that everything we do at EMC is all about virtual infrastructure and helping out customers in the journey to the private cloud.

Sramana: Well, virtualization is a mature business at this point; I’m looking for more trends that classify as emerging trends.

Sanjay: I can tell you that I can’t have a conversation with the CIOs today without thinking about private clouds. This is not because I want it but because my peers talk about it so often. It is on top of the minds and priority for CIOs. What the cloud changes is governance; it changes approaches, skillsets, and so on. It also changes how you build applications. Most of the CIOs I believe take on a positive, refreshing time-for-a-change approach. I’m not going into company names, but companies need to start thinking about their solutions and their approaches; whatever they do has to be in the cloud infrastructure, and I am not going to get high on private clouds or public clouds or any other definition of clouds. As CIOs, we look at the tenets of a cloud which appeal to our business use cases. I am wide open to the CIOs and companies that bring me solutions and innovations in this area.

Sramana: So you are saying that the infrastructure of managing a private cloud or a hybrid cloud is something that still needs to be thought through and products and services built around it?

Sanjay: Let me put it this way, the entire area of the cloud is a journey. I don’t think you can sit back and  say that we are all written and all done there; I would say that’s hardly the case. There is a lot of innovation coming from a technology point of view. It’s also coming from an application point of view. It may be coming from a process point of view, too. What I am saying is the companies that innovate in those spaces, whether it be in the applications, tools, methodology, approach; these are the things we have to bring together. It is not just the bits that constitute a cloud. It is all the stuff that supports these bits and that needs to come along together. Earlier, I talked quite a bit about what I am thinking about in terms of people skills that need to evolve and the opportunity it brings to people associated with clouds today. I think the technology, processes, and methodology of managing a cloud-like environment – not just the infrastructure but application security and other parts of the cloud ecosystem – those are the kind of things that CIOs would be spending a lot of time with today. If it is the classic stuff, say, applying for licenses for servers, I think those days are done.

Sramana: Can you talk about your job as a CIO of EMC? Can you give me, say, three problems that you have today related to cloud computing that you are considering solutions for? I am talking about significant business problems at EMC that you are trying to solve using the cloud paradigm.

Sanjay: Do you want me to give you an example of a serious problem that I am trying to solve with the cloud, or a serious problem in the cloud?

Sramana: In the cloud or with the cloud, something that you know from EMC’s point of view. It could be either related to managing your cloud infrastructure or to solving a problem that you want to use the cloud architecture in and you can’t find the solution. What would be some of those problems?

Sanjay: My focus area, the way I am wired, to be honest with you, is about process, about people, and I spend my time on the cloud like any other technology. I think as much as I spend time on whether a technology is quicker, leaner, cost-effective, and so on, I also spend time on aspects that deal with how it gets absorbed by my internal customers within EMC, with my people. We have a process that we have evolved in the company to accept this kind of revolution. So, it is not one big thing or one small thing, it is about the approach we take in absorbing the cloud into our way of life in the company.

This segment is part 5 in the series : Thought Leaders In Cloud Computing: Sanjay Mirchandani, CIO of EMC
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