Sramana Mitra: [Usage-based licensing] is also democratizing the availability of technology to a much a broader range of both companies and consumers, right? People can access technology much more affordably and easily today than even just five years ago.
Mark Egan: Absolutely! And I think the challenge for us as IT professionals is, How do we take that consumer experience that everybody is accustomed to and offer it in an enterprise? Because if you look at some of these old era interfaces, these applications, you know, people are not just going to use them. We had an example here at VMware where we had the choice to upgrade our existing CRM system or go off and look for an alternative. Even though the existing application had more functionality, its user interface was horrible. What we opted to do was move to something new with a much better user interface because I wanted to get the adoption [among employees].
SM: And the older application was what, Siebel?
SM: Sybil has been shelf ware in many cases. Siebel grew up with this culture of shoving technology down the throats of CIOs, and then it just sat on the shelves for many years in many different organizations, right?
ME: Yes, I think you have a lot of these legacy applications that have just been installed and that’s it. I know that certainly in customer-facing groups like the sales and marketing services groups, they are much more sensitive to a software program’s usability. I think this emphasis on usability is really putting pressure on some of the legacy vendors, especially when you have some kind of trigger point such as an upgrade or a new roll-out and so forth. I can say that in my career, I had some CRM roll-outs that were not fully successful just because of that problem of adoption. A lot of things just weren’t used.
SM: Yes! I did a big story on SpringSource before VMware acquired them, so my readers actually know quite a lot about Spring. I want to ask you a few questions about how you see Spring positioned in the broader enterprise world. The way you described your own use of Spring was to extend parts of the CRM functionality within your organization. Is that kind of how you view it? Is it a framework for writing the customer application inside your enterprise?
ME: Yes. Anything that we do custom, we use the Spring platform. That would be stuff that you can’t buy or rent. So, there is integration among systems, and if you have to extend them and so forth, that is where we would use the product. One example would be portals; you just can’t buy a portal, if you will. They are unique to a business. Yhat is when we get into our build mode.
SM: And how does Spring interface with these platform-as-a-service engines such as the Saleforce.com engine or the Google Apps engine? What is the relationship?
ME: Generally, there is an API to those, and what you would do is write a service to those different APIs. Some of the APIs are a little more mature than others. When you look at a product like Salesforce or something that is very heavily [dependent on] interface applications, there are lots of different hooks. So, they have pretty well-established APIs.
SM: Now, I would like to understand what your strategy is for analytics. This is another area where I have heard about very different permutations and combinations of strategies from private cloud to hybrid cloud to public cloud. What is your strategy for analytics, and what do you recommend as best practice?
ME: What I have found, I called starter kits for analytics, but you have to do a fair amount of building with those [applications]. What we have done internally is that we do have some, I would call them, packages we have bought, but then we have to do quite a bit of extension on them. They tend to be unique by business. So, our internal business intelligence program is tying into some of our legacy applications as well as to SaaS apps. We do quite a bit of custom work to get that in place. I am not aware of cloud-based, off-the-shelf solutions in the area of analytics.