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Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Indu Kodukula, Executive VP of Products and CTO, SunGard Availability Services (Part 4)

Posted on Saturday, Oct 1st 2011

Sramana Mitra: That’s very interesting. You sit at a good vantage point to be able to say how these 10,000 customers are using the cloud strategy, using the data center, using SunGard. Can you provide some sort of an overview of what exactly people are doing? What are these small and medium enterprises putting on your data centers?

Indu Kodukula: That is a great question. If I can start with a little bit of context, many of our clients have just the same challenge that we face. We have about $1.5 billion in revenue. We have an IT staff that is under a tremendous amount of pressure to become more efficient and to do more with less. We have many of the same issues around consolidation, around new service roll-outs, new revenue generation opportunities, all of those that our clients have. A lot of the problems that we solve internally are of relevance to our clients and our customers.

For example, one of the things that we have done is to build up a significant data warehouse capability over the last several years as a way to support decision making and analytics. What we are starting to find is that a form of that, that you might compare to Elastic MapReduce, but is much more based on higher levels of scale and the ability to support larger data volumes. That is actually of interest to our clients, so that is an example where our internal lessons and learning are allowing us to bring more relevant services to our customer base. Now, for the cloud itself, what we are finding is that the vast majority of applications that are being used to run on our cloud are production applications that are typically departmental apps. You interviewed one of our clients several months back from Cycle30, and in their example, it was a case of  a billing application that needed to grow on a per-usage basis, and they did not want to have capital invested on their own account. They wanted a utility model. So, departmental applications, new business opportunities where the elasticity of the cloud environment is extremely compelling.

We are starting to see  backend enterprise applications to move, but that is still very much in its infancy. The departmental applications and new business initiatives are where we have seen most of the initial movement to the cloud. It is happening not just for dev test; the vast majority of our clients today are running production applications in our environment.

SM: Are your clients largely software companies, other software vendors?

IK: No, they are actually not. They are mainstream enterprise IT departments that are somewhat reluctant to move to the cloud, because they don’t have the level of comfort that they are going to be able to move without safety, without security or with the enterprise guarantees that they are used to. I think what we are finding is that when we go talk to them, [the fact] that we built our cloud in a secure and enterprise ready fashion, the reaction from them is much more positive than when they hear the message from other vendors in the industry.

SM: You said it’s not only dev test. How much dev test do you expect in SMEs, unless they are technology companies?

IK: Sorry. I didn’t intend to confuse you. I actually don’t see a whole lot of dev test in our install base. Most of the application loads are production. The only reason I talk about the dev test is because two years back, the market was at a point where the general expectation was that the cloud would be used to run the dev test and not production, so that is really the genesis of my comment.

SM: Okay, got it.

IK: You are absolutely right. I think most IT departments in our target market segment don’t have the internal development resources to have massive dev test environments.

SM: That is right. So, what kind of applications are they putting on your servers? Presumably, this is a segment that is also using the public cloud very heavily. I have talked to a lot of people in the space. They are using Salesforce.com heavily. There are a bunch of other public cloud services that they are using heavily. So, in a way, putting production applications on your server means that they are running some sort of private cloud on their own data centers doesn’t it?

IK: Yes and no. Quite often, what we are finding is that a lot of these clients have completed the journey towards virtualization or are midway in the journey towards virtualization. They haven’t yet decided what they are going to do after that, whether they want to go to a private cloud, whether they want to go to an enterprise cloud. They are about to make that decision, and based on what we are telling them, they are feeling comfortable that after the completion of the virtualization journey, they can move a significant portion of their workloads onto the enterprise cloud that we provide for them. These are departmental applications. These are things like SharePoint. These are things like Secret Server, a three-tier Web application. Those are the sorts of applications that it is a pretty logical outcome, after you virtualize, to consider putting them on a shared enterprise cloud.

This segment is part 4 in the series : Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Indu Kodukula, Executive VP of Products and CTO, SunGard Availability Services
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