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Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Indu Kodukula, Executive VP of Products and CTO, SunGard Availability Services (Part 3)

Posted on Friday, Sep 30th 2011

Sramana Mitra: What was the origin of your business? You said you have been in the disaster recovery for 30 years. Were you delivering boxes to your clients at that point?

Indu Kodukula: We have historically been an infrastructure-heavy business, and our business model has been very simple. On the recovery side, our business model has been a shared inventory that matches the customer infrastructure. In the event of any sort of service interruption, we are in a position to recover, or we are in a position to help our clients recover their applications on the same inventory or the same infrastructure on which they run their applications. Now, as we added production services to the mix, it became very clear to us that a lot of our customers were starting to look at disaster recovery in a new light. It was much less about something bad happening at one point or something catastrophic happening at one point. It was much more about, How did they think of recovery as part of an availability spectrum where for tier one applications, they wanted a down time of 15 minutes.               

 For tier two applications, they may be willing to put up with a down time of no more than four hours. For tier three applications, they may be able to put up with a down time of 24 hours. Then there will always be some applications that they can put up with a down time of a couple of days. Because of that, we realized that we needed to think of cloud as an addition to that enterprise availability requirement, and we needed to build something that would a) allow for the level of availability if we needed to run applications for our clients or b) would provide a recovery platform for applications that our clients might run themselves.  Both of those were deliberate design goals for our cloud strategy just because of the business we are in. We did not go down the commodity cloud path; we made a conscious decision not to compete with the likes of Amazon. We decided to build a production-ready enterprise cloud. We decided to build a cloud for IT rather than one that was focused on developers. All of that thinking has been central to the enterprise cloud services that we have been launching over the past 12 to 18 months.

SM: Are you  speaking from the perspective of products and services that SunGard provides, or are you speaking from the perspective of your own IT organization?

IK: It started from the perspective of products and services we are providing for our clients. Now, as it turns out, our CIO has also taken on an aggressive, if you will, ‘eat your own dog food’ initiative where over the next 18 months, he intends to convert the majority of our internal applications onto our cloud. As you can imagine, that is a pretty compelling message to our clients. We are not asking them to do anything that our CIO is not willing to do himself.

SM: If you pass the 10,000 customers that you serve through that products and services portfolio, are these largely enterprise customers?

IK: There is a story of what we do today, and there is a story of where we are headed. Most of our customers today start at the SME level and go down into the mid-market. The typical profile is a very over-stretched IT staff, with some sort of constraints around operating capital and the ability to undertake significant capital investments themselves, and also an IT staff that has a limited amount of bandwidth to worry about application availability or in many cases, doesn’t have the expertise to worry about the application availability. So, that is our typical customer profile. Now, we are in the process of building out as a company a consultant factor that we believe will allow us to reach further upstream where even if something like a Fortune 50 company may have all the internal IT expertise or all the data center capacities it needs, we may still be able to offer value because of the specialized availability knowledge we bring to the table. I think that is where we are headed. Today, we are focused on servicing the mid-market and the small and medium enterprises.

This segment is part 3 in the series : Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Indu Kodukula, Executive VP of Products and CTO, SunGard Availability Services
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