SM: What is mid-tier or large environment? What kind of scale are we talking? What size company from a revenue or employee point of view?
JW: I’d say a mid-tier is a $50 million to $250 million environment. So, with a company bringing in revenue of that size, when you think about scale, what we want to enable is an average IT person to do ten times more than what he or she normally does for the company. Instead of managing 10 servers, that person is able to manage 100 servers with our type of technology.
SM: Interesting. Got it. So, now let’s take that point of view and help me understand: What is the state of the union in the global IT industry? How much time do IT people spend today doing the kinds of functions that you can dramatically optimize?
JW: I think right now, probably about 60% of their time is spent on monotonous tasks that can be optimized and will continue to be optimized by everybody out there. These tasks are the ones we’ve already talked about. Backup should be an automated task. High availability, business continuity, those things should be automated tasks. IT administrators should not be focusing on that time at all. Also patch management, security auditing and scanning – those things should be automated. Auto-scaling capability, scaling their applications to meet the ongoing demands of the businesses – those should be automated. When you add up all those things, you start seeing a workload of about 60% of IT staff members’ time in just doing that. They’re basically doing maintenance. They’re managing the applications. They’re not really building anything new. They’re not helping the business with strategy.
SM: Of all the areas you’ve listed, some of them are big categories. Security is a category of its own that has a whole hairy universe around it. That’s not all that simple. It should be automated, yes, but that’s got a whole other universe, right? That’s not what you do.
JW: Yes. You can only do so much. I think that’s going to change as we get better and better at technology, especially in the industry. Five years ago when the company was founded, we focused on being able to have a secure multi-tenant environment and being able to give each customer his own secure, isolated environment for his data. What I see right now is that we’re way past that. We’re getting automated auditing of their infrastructures, so we’re able to automate what’s going on. We’re also able to do intrusion detection services that will automatically adjust to the environments. As a Web server gets spun up by an IT person, it’s automatically added into that scan. It’s automatically added into intrusion detection based on policies that are being set.
SM: Okay. Over what period do you see the 60% of the functions or tasks that can be automated actually being automated?
JW: I think that for a lot of these things, the workload is going to get better and better, and in probably the next two to three years, the problem of IT administrators’ monotonous tasks or maintenance mode tasks will be resolved.
SM: That’s very, very optimistic. Two to three years not a long time. Do you think the business will move that fast to have all this automation put in in the next two to three years?
JW: I don’t think businesses are going to be ready for it, but I think the technology is going to be there.
SM: But my question is, How long will it take for 60% of the IT functions that can be automated to actually be automated? Not whether the technology will be there.
JW: I would say for mid-tier type environments that are increasingly moving to a public cloud offering, it’s going to be faster . . . probably six to eight years for them. For enterprises, I would say more than 10 years to automate a lot of those types of things.
SM: So, your estimate is that this will happen over the next decade.