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Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Indu Kodukula, Executive VP of Products and CTO, SunGard Availability Services (Part 8)

Posted on Wednesday, Oct 5th 2011

Sramana Mitra: So, let me go back to the question I asked. Are you doing something proactively in terms of offering incentives to entrepreneurs to set up their cloud services on your platform?

Indu Kodukula: Absolutely. First of all, you can come and deploy your services on us. If you don’t, we offer you essentially a way to not have to continue to use it if don’t want to. The cost is  always a consideration. More important, we are building up a team of solution architects who are going to be able to sit down – we see that as an investment – the solution architects would actually sit down with entrepreneurs and walk them through, or sit down with them and, in many cases, help them design their applications so that they run the right way on the cloud, absolutely.

SM: And are there pricing incentives?

IK: We don’t have a program around it, but we have never had any instance that I am aware of where somebody has walked away from us because of price.

SM: That is something we should, at least offline, learn about because we work with so many entrepreneurs, and cloud is a very big piece of our portfolio.

IK: And if you think there are things we could do better here, we would love to understand. This is something, not in my current role, but in my previous roles, both at BEA and Oracle, I have built products and delivered products that were oriented  at developers and in each case, helped build up developer ecosystems. So, I’m familiar with the model for doing that. I think it is a bit new to SunGard as a business.

SM: There are other companies that are sitting in your – Rackspace is a very good example among your competitors – that are proactively going after startups and trying to create a good startup ecosystem so that the companies that are coming up now host their applications on their servers. So, we hear from [Rackspace], and we see that fairly often. I think that is the model to look at, [one] that is proactively attracting startups to build applications and host them on your platform.

IK: The guy who launched Rackspace cloud works for me . . . for a little more than year.

SM: OK. Now, before we close, I do want to visit the question of what is your guidance, from where you sit, where do you see entrepreneurial opportunities? Where would you like to point new entrepreneurs?

IK: I think the cloud is going to transform the industry. There are a bunch of people who think that’s hype, but it’s not. It’s is not for a simple reason: The utility model is amazingly compelling. It is not just about cost. In fact, in some cases, the utility model will end up being more expensive than putting a bunch of money down up front. But the fundamental value of the utility model is as a result of the utility model, you can tie the investment success to the business success. What makes the utility model possible is elasticity.

Today, we have elasticity at the infrastructure level. We have elasticity at the storage level, at the compute level. I think startups are trying to figure out how to make elasticity happen at the network level. I think that things like OpenFloor are taking us there. But nobody has really figured out how to get elasticity to really work at the application level. I will give you a very simple example. Email is actually the ultimate example of an elastic application. Everybody comes into work. Between 8:00 and 9:30 in the morning, there is a flood of emails, and then it starts to die down, and hits a trough at lunch time. Then people come back in the afternoon. There’s a flurry of productivity from 2:30 to 4:00, and it starts to taper off between 4:30 and 7:00. And then at night, you want to impress your boss with how hard you are working, and there is a flood of emails at night. But if you look at a typical enterprise email installation, first of all, the application, the email server, is not built to be elastic. It is not built to scale up and down in terms of resource consumption, based on how many people are logged in.  It is certainly not licensed on an elastic basis.

When you take that and think of 500 enterprise applications or 200 enterprise applications, and then you take this notion that email applications are generally not built to scale up and down, and are not really built to take use of underlying system resources on a scale-up, scale-down basis, an opportunity for innovation here is just tremendous. Every enterprise application that we know today, whether it is HR, whether it is CRM, whether it is email, they are all going to be rewritten in the next 10 years to be able to make use of elasticity as a core design principle, because that has tremendous economic value. I just don’t see enough of that happening today. I think that entrepreneurs today are very focused on consumer applications. But I know there’s tremendous opportunity to take enterprise applications and redo that for the cloud.

This segment is part 8 in the series : Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Indu Kodukula, Executive VP of Products and CTO, SunGard Availability Services
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