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Thought Leaders In Cloud Computing: Sanjay Mirchandani, CIO of EMC (Part 7)

Posted on Thursday, Dec 2nd 2010

By Sramana Mitra and guest author Shaloo Shalini

Sramana: Sanjay, is there anything else I should have asked you in the context of EMC and cloud computing? Is there anything you wanted to discuss or highlight?

Sanjay: At EMC, we are far along in our journey into cloud computing, and I’m going to be bold and urge folks to think about cloud computing adoption as a journey. It is a journey that is moving quickly, but it is after all a journey; not everything comes together at exactly at the same time. There are a lot of opportunities to add value in this space, whether for entrepreneurs, integrators, partners, or however you want to categorize it. Cloud computing is changing several paradigms at once – how we do things, how fast we do things, and so on. Things such as the desktop and client experience that we treated in a very traditional way for so many years are changing as well. It has been challenging, too, with virtualized desktops, smart devices, and what have you.

The entire landscape is changing, and it is interconnected. I urge people to think about it, the impact that this cloud will have on multiple pieces of the business, and it is a journey and it takes a bit of patience. This is because it isn’t a queue that you are going to pass through but a state you are trying to achieve in your business. That is what I would like to share, because in my mind cloud resets expectations and has caused a lot of changes, a lot of changes internally – for the better, I think, for IT professionals. If you look at all that stuff from this lens, I’m sure you’ll see where are the opportunities in the cloud. There is a ton of opportunity if only you look closer.

Sramana: As I listen to you, and from my past interviews in this series Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing talking with other executives across industries, [we are] definitely at the cusp of what you are doing in virtualization and various new forms of security. I see there are opportunities, but until you actually get down and dirty in the customer scenario, how do you find these opportunities? Those entrepreneurs who are going down deeper and hands-on, looking at specific implementations, specific use cases, they will certainly find them.

Sanjay: I agree with you, and I would like to say one last thing about currency in the cloud. This is not meant to sound [like it’s coming from] 30,000 feet above, but after you are done with the initial virtualization, achieved decent savings, and gotten the low-hanging fruit, the currency in the cloud is what you are looking for. The conversations in IT, the cycles of the time to deploy and deliver value have all changed. The classic eight-month, twelve-month, fifteen-month, and seventeen-month projects are less common now. They are being replaced with the quick, iterative, agile delivery capabilities that make the business more agile. That is exactly what businesses want. Things are changing so fast, and there are so many uncertainties in the classic ‘build it and they will come’ approach. I think that is all over.

Sramana: What do you think is going to happen to companies like Accenture and big system integrators, whose bread and butter are big system integration projects?

Sanjay: I think there are integration projects of all kinds, not just big ones. There will be not as big ones [as before], but again, it is a journey. It is not like tomorrow morning, everything changes. It is an evolution. You get a couple of cloud infrastructures into existing infrastructure or you get a virtualized integrating infrastructure, you are going to make that cloud-like over time. There are a lot of opportunities, a lot of life cycles, but companies do need help and assistance to get there.

What I am saying is that the conversations, the lingua franca with the business, is now about agility. People want to talk about agility: how fast can I get this, how soon can I get this? It is not uncommon for the business to say, Sanjay, I completely understand it is not going to be full, functional, and perfect on day one, but at least I need to be able to test the waters with it. So our approach, our time line, our cost models, the cloud enables a lot of that stuff today. I’m a business guy, not a classic IT guy, and I think of it as a business. I think what I would want today, if I was on the other side and not a CIO, would be to pay as I go, not want to pay not for peak loads, and something faster. I would say, talk to me if your solution is all about quick value. Maybe it is just me, but that is how I think about it.

Sramana: No, I think what you are saying is correct. We will see more of it in the next ten years once the virtual infrastructure is more rolled out. Today, yes, we have a lot of cloud adoption, but it is still relatively new. I don’t think there is a pervasive level of cloud adoption, not quite yet. That is because there are a lot opportunities and gaps for some intelligent and enterprising folks to fill in, if you played it out for a decade. There is a question that remains to be answered, though: What happens to the system integration function, does it decrease?

Sanjay: I don’t think it will decrease, I think it will evolve with these changes that the cloud brings. I mean, it will evolve. It is not the first change or evolution that we have seen in the industry. There were the eras of mainframes, distributed computing, the Internet-based model. We have seen it all, we have seen the cycle. If it takes ten years in the case of the cloud or it takes five, we will see. I don’t know that yet. I think it will be faster than previous cycles. The partner community, the integrators, the service providers will evolve and are evolving and leading that change. This is an opportunity on the run, I honestly believe that.

Sramana: Well, very good! Thank you for taking the time, and if we have entrepreneurs who are working on your identified problem we will send them your way.

Sanjay: Thank you. I hope this was useful for the cloud community and entrepreneurs.

Sramana: Yes, very much so! Thank you.

This segment is part 7 in the series : Thought Leaders In Cloud Computing: Sanjay Mirchandani, CIO of EMC
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