Sramana Mitra: Is that an opportunity that is similar to what Salesforce.com has done in customer relationship management, or are you saying more domain-specific applications inside enterprises or vertical applications and so forth?
Indu Kodukula: No, I think it’s across the board, even for horizontal applications.
SM: That is happening, though, the horizontal application is happening in droves.
IK: I think it is, but even Saleforce.com is not truly a utility model when you look underneath. Eventually, if they start building on top of relational databases service, and if they really allow the scale-up, scale- down, not just from a single instance perspective but across all of their customers, I think that’ll start to be more interesting. But you are right, I think for horizontal applications, there isn’t any company today – maybe with the exception of Salesforce – who could effectively compete with the Oracles of the world. I think that needs to change.
SM: There are companies in the $200 million, $300 million, $400 million range . . . or the $100 million range that are starting to address big pieces of that, companies like Workday and Taleo. That is a well monitored opportunity that a lot of entrepreneurs are looking at. Your point, however, about true utility computing not quite being there is well taken. The model Salseforce.com uses is that you buy a certain number of user subscriptions, but if those users don’t use the product, you still get charged for it.
IK: That is right.
SM: And today, nobody will let you really pay purely on the basis of utilization where you pay only if
you use the product.
IK: Right, because the apps are not built that way. I think Workday is an interesting example. I think they started at a different point from Salesforce. I absolutely take your point on Workday. But if you look at even other enterprise applications – think analytics – I think that is a huge opportunity. You are starting to see the beginnings of analytics service providers, but in terms of what could really be done, in terms of disrupting the traditional BI market, for example, they are very much in the early days. If you think of the notion of an application server and of what it takes to build an application server so that people can do custom application development, not just made-to-use packaged applications, this begs the question, what does an elastic application server mean? There isn’t anything out there today that you can point to and say, that is how I ought to build my custom apps so they can scale up and down. I think people are still figuring out a lot of that.
SM: You are saying that there is one genre of applications, enterprise applications, SME applications that entrepreneurs could look at where it is pretty much the same functionality as other applications like Salseforce.com, Taleo, or whatever – SuccessFactors – but in a pure utility computing model?
IK: Built ground up to support a utility consumption model, that is right.
IK: It is not pricing limits; it is not a pricing exercise.
SM: Right, you have to architect it that way.
IK: That’s right. They’re doing that for packaged apps, and then obviously making it possible for custom apps.
SM: Right. I think that is a very fair observation.