Sramana Mitra: To summarize, you would say that if you were using Google apps, they would offer you a native implementation of that with the same functionality.
Diane Bryant: Google started a consumer solution, and we are hardcore enterprise. I think maybe that is where we are having a disconnect. We need an enterprise solution. It has to be secure; it has to be robust; it has to have offline capability; it has to have e-discovery solutions. Just think about everything that an enterprise has to have that a consumer wouldn’t care about.
Sramana: I understand fully, but the reason I raised this question is that I am hearing from enterprises that they’re adopting Google apps, which was a surprise to me. It is happening on quite a significant scale.
Diane: I completely agree with people adopting it because, as you have seen, Google has moved toward more enterprise-savvy solutions in the past two years. I remember going and seeing their solution two years ago, when there was a consumer solution, and how it has evolved. The disappointing thing is e-discovery and incremental improvements. I don’t think people are going in that direction because of the better collaboration solutions that they don’t have native to the client. I don’t think that is the driver.
Sramana Mitra: So, the driver actually is cost, it seems.
Diane Bryant: Yes, the driver is cost, cost relative to what you are paying today. If you are a large enterprise company and you have enterprise license agreements and internal LAN capacity, you are not going to get the benefit going outside. If you are struggling with managing your exchange environment, if you are struggling with client environment, if you are looking to go to thin clients for whatever reason, your bank tellers or whatever who don’t need to compute, if those cards are aligned, then external cloud-based solutions could be cheaper. That is the struggle. The costs are going to be different for all of us. Based on your current state, is it going to save you money, or is it going to cost you money?
Sramana: I think you summarized it very well. What is happening with the other functional areas in your enterprise apps, like HR, CRM, and so on? Are the legacy systems moving nicely into your private cloud architecture?
Diane: Yes. We have a golden rule now that if you land an app now, it lands in a virtual environment part of your internal cloud. And the legacy systems, after we went through the process of end of life for a bunch of them, weren’t adding incremental value, those remaining legacy systems are moving into a virtual environment without issue. I think the interesting question now, when I talk to my peers, is what is the right balance of virtual machine per physical server? It is interesting. There is lot of experimentation going on. It’s still true of virtualization, even though we have been talking about virtualizing our infrastructure for six years.
We are now finally doing it, and there are still a lot of unknowns. How do you manage that particular environment, especially when you go to a cloud? How do you manage the automation and the usage around the cloud? There is still a lot of experimentation going on, and our investment in developing a public cloud has been in creating our own proprietary automation and management systems because it doesn’t exist yet. We are still new in this environment, and you probably know that when talking to people, everyone is experimenting. Everyone is deploying. There is a lot of internal development. There are not a lot of robust, out-of-the-box solutions.
Sramana: The vendors haven’t yet finished putting together their out-of-the-box solutions. I spoke with several people at IBM, both the CIO of IBM and the head of cloud services and cloud strategy at IBM. They are putting together a stack that is camera-ready to build what you are building today, like a large enterprise private cloud environment, which is a fully configured design architecture getting out of the box. But these are new things that are happening, and you seem to have already started this process sometime ago. I am sure they didn’t have any products to offer you at that point.
Diane: Yes, we stay in sync with them, too. Any IT shop should worry about creating proprietary solutions. We know IT folks love to develop. All the time, you want something manageable, so we continue to stay in sync. The cloud does add a layer of complexity because now you’ve got to manage those virtual machines, to manage your standard server management, your security management. All that has to be integrated. It is part of why most of us large enterprise people are inclined to do private clouds. At least then we control it. In our environment, we control it. When you try to go the external now, you are dealing with somebody else’s proprietary solutions and you get locked in.