By Sramana Mitra and guest author Shaloo Shalini
SM: Do you see that happening with high-powered clouds? Do you see any SaaS vendors such as Salesforce.com creating offerings that are going to be deployed in a completely private cloud mode?
DH: I think I’m not sure what Salesforce.com has planned. I’m not really engaged with those guys at all. I would say, in general you are going to have it. Salesforce.com is enjoying such success in their current offering mode that until they feel challenged by a groundswell of customer requirements for an offering with an on-premise mode; I think they will probably not look at private clouds. I think there are a lot of applications that are mid-tier applications; they are going to be forced to really offer themselves both in hybrid mode. By hybrid mode I mean both as a service where there is zero footprint on the client’s data center floor and in some general fashion where it is sustained, tested, and maintained in a virtualized infrastructure but not on their own premises – so it is more like a traditional license model, but optimized to take advantage of the major virtualization platform such as Citrix, VMWare, and the like.
SM: Interesting! I pretty much agree with your analysis of Salesforce.com. Until there is customer pressure, I don’t see how or why they would move to a private cloud mode because their public cloud deployment is going so well.
DH: Amazon probably falls in that camp, too. For Amazon to license its technology such that people can run it on their own infrastructure, I’m not sure that makes a ton of sense for them at this point.
SM: Well, that brings me to my final set of questions, which is related to the 1M/1M initiative and blue-sky opportunities in cloud computing. On the blog, we are focused broadly on entrepreneurship, and one of the things we are trying in the Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing series is to bring in people like you to discuss what entrepreneurial opportunities you see on your horizon, within your orbit, or on your radar that entrepreneurs could go after.
Based on the discussion we have just had, my assessment, and one of the nuggets that I just extracted from talking to you is that, if there could be a set of vendors, application vendors that offer applications that are today being offered in a public cloud mode and offer them in the private cloud mode, then there is a lot of opportunity for such solutions. Is that a fair observation?
DH: I think that is one. Another obvious one that I think half of Silicon Valley is chasing is some way to easily meter, control, and measure the consumption of a utility, either on a private cloud basis or on a public cloud basis. I am talking about metering such that you can charge back on a utilization-based function as opposed to speculation or by re-implementing some infrastructure. I think one of the great ones that we love to see is – this is a service provider opportunity, really – somebody who has a robust set of virtualized infrastructure server, storage, transport, that can exist seamlessly in a hybrid fashion on-premise with a customer and off-premise in a data center, such that the customer achieves complete mobility with their applications.
They could deploy them to address scalability, disaster recovery, or burst requirement, or deploy them just for testing and some of the mundane IT tasks. I can then basically have an accordion function on my infrastructure. I am truly virtualized, and I don’t really care where that memory, where that bit sits in what memory and what server says anywhere in the world. It is completely geographically dispersed, and we just don’t care. There are obviously a lot of interesting challenges to data replication, security, governance, and all of that stuff, but say someone comes to the market with an offering like that, I think they would solve a lot of problems for a lot of clients.
SM: Let me try to synthesize what you said. You are looking for a full stack with the infrastructure, communications, and network stack that is preconfigured and available for anybody who wants to deploy it, say, in the private cloud or in the public cloud or in a hybrid mode on a flexible basis. Is that what you said?
DH: Yes. I guess you can call it a hybrid solution, but it is hybrid on-demand, being able to have the same set of tools and the same set of management and security surveillance on my infrastructure. And it may exist in my firewalls for a primary tier 1 application that I might want to have on location, but it is flexible in the sense that if needed, I could have it extend to a data center somewhere else in the world, where I don’t own those capital assets but I can use them on a pay per drink basis. Now, that would be completely seamless so that my applications are virtualized and are completely unaware of where they are actually getting that CPU or that memory or that disk from.
SM: You are saying this is something that you would love to see from a service provider’s point of view?
DH: I think it is a service provider offering because it obviously requires data center infrastructure, the operations staff and the tools of technology that allows to those two worlds to seamlessly come together. Well, I haven’t seen it happen yet.
SM: My guess is this is what IBM is trying to do.
DH: I think so, too. If I have to name five companies that I think would solve the problem, I think I would put IBM on that list for sure.