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Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Indu Kodukula, Executive VP of Products and CTO, SunGard Availability Services (Part 2)

Posted on Thursday, Sep 29th 2011

Sramana Mitra: What is the company’s philosophy as far as cloud computing is concerned? To some extent, the entire  cloud movement has played in your favor because the data center has become such a big part of business today, especially third-party data centers. Would you give me an overview of your cloud philosophy and how this is all impacting you? What are the thoughts inside the company across that spectrum?

Indu Kodukula: One of the nice things about being in technology for a very long time is that you see patterns start to repeat. When I was a grad student, sort of a joke was anything in computer science can either be solved by inserting the layer of interaction or by reading the history books. One way to think about cloud computing is that it’s making the best use of shared structure and putting the utility model around so that for the first time in a very long time, enterprise IT can start to build systems and services and pay for the underlying resources on a usage basis, rather than spend a bunch of capex (capital expenditures) upfront.

Now, if you go back to the mainframe days, that is basically what a mainframe was about, except we had to deal with BD 100s and green terminals. The UI has definitely come a long way. The other thing that was missing was the notion of the utility consumption model. In some ways, the challenges and opportunities in cloud computing are things that we have been dealing with for a long time as part of our disaster recovery business. We see this as a tremendous opportunity for ourselves and our clients.

Now, to drill into that a little bit, first of all, the utility model of cloud makes it effective for starting new efforts. The classic problem with enterprise IT is that regardless of whether a business initiative is going to be successful, you end up asking for a bunch of capex, and you don’t even know if the effort of the IT initiative that you are going to support is ever going to make money. You end up spending a bunch of capex that you may not get any return on, whereas in a utility model it is possible to start small. It is possible to draw based on success and, ultimately, it is possible to tie the IT investment to the business output or the business outcome.

SM: Based on where we are today in the series, this is very well accepted and understood. It is probably the driving factor and also moving technology down into the mid market and into the small businesses, because a large amount of capex just was not affordable for them. Now, because of the utility model, they can afford the technology.

IK: Absolutely. To add to that, to a large extent what the likes of Amazon have done is make it possible to have enterprise IT look at cloud computing as a real alternative or a real platform for cloud computing. When we started down the path of building the strategy around the cloud two years ago, we instinctively understood that cloud was going to be a main stay of the enterprise IT infrastructure, and we had to plot our direction into this very carefully.

First of all, we realized that at that time – this was 2009 – that it didn’t really make a lot of sense for us to build yet another cloud for inner dev test workloads.  It just would not have been differentiated. We took a bet that cloud, as it becomes more and more mainstream, will be used to run production applications, much the same way that every other computing platform has matured to that point. Even though that was not widely accepted in 2009, we made the bet that we were going to drive an option of the cloud as a production platform into enterprise IT. That was a bet we made back in 2009.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Indu Kodukula, Executive VP of Products and CTO, SunGard Availability Services
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