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Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Joe Graves, CIO of Stratus (Part 1)

Posted on Friday, Dec 2nd 2011

Stratus opened for business when the Internet was still in its infancy and before the cloud even existed. Since then, the company has evolved into an organization that helps clients such as hospitals, utilities, credit card networks, and many others to provide efficient, consistent services to their own customers and clients. To further ensure quality service, Stratus teams up with organizations such as Motorola, Honeywell, and Siemens AG, to name a few.

Sramana Mitra: Hi, Joe. If you could, give us some context about Stratus. To begin with, I don’t think the audience would be all that familiar with the company. What’s the business? What’s the scale? What’s the revenue level and number of employees? This is so we have a sense of the scale of the organization.

Joe Graves: Stratus is a 30-year-old computer server company. We mostly focus on high availability, both in terms of product and services. What we’re really out to achieve for our customers is good peace of mind. In fact, many of our customers have identified that as a huge value proposition we offer.

We’re used around the world in a variety of places and ways. For example, we’re used to help credit card processors, financial institutions, public safety applications, you name it. There’s probably a customer of ours doing it. We’re also one of those little companies that you use every day and don’t know it. For example, I don’t think you could process a credit card in this country and not touch a Stratus computer at some point.

In terms of size, we’re about a 600-person company based outside of Boston, Massachusetts. We’re about $200 million in revenue. The majority of our revenue is services based and not product based. So, while most people traditionally associate us with being a hardware vendor, we’re more of a services company now than we are a product company.

SM: You’re a 30-year-old company. Obviously the company has seen many cycles, from client–server to the thin client movement back to centralized data centers and cloud computing and everything. Would you give me a sense of your philosophy as you’re thinking through the cloud computing movement? How are you thinking about it? What goals and objectives are you setting?

JG: Just to give you a little background, just for some context, Stratus has been using software as a service since 2004. We were somewhat of a progressive and early adopter of it. Since that time, almost every application we’ve deployed has been software-as-a-service-based. Some of the things we’re looking at now, vis-à-vis the cloud, are how can Stratus generate revenue in the cloud?

We have a couple of interesting initiatives in that regard. I’m responsible for one of them, which is, basically, we’re aggregating a number of software as a service and platform as a service type tools and functionality to help offer uptime assurance for our customer base, to help them manage their environments to ensure that they’re highly available and operating with peak efficiency. It’s a different model for us, because we’re talking about going out and working in a heterogeneous environment rather than managing our own platform.

SM: Okay. Help me understand some of the innovative things you are doing within Stratus.

JG: The activity I’m participating in is working on an offering that’s related to remote management in the cloud. What we want to be able to do is work with our customers and partners to offer them a means or a service to support their environments using cloud-based applications. That includes being vendor agnostic in terms of what management agents they may be using or what tool sets they may be using.

What we’re doing is implementing a number of interfaces to existing tools and platforms and then bringing those interfaces together, back to a single pane of glass that is a software-as-a-service-based solution. It’s a complex concept to explain without a diagram.

SM: I spoke with someone from Tier 3, which does something similar. Is Tier 3 a competitor of yours?

JG: No.

SM: The CTO of Tier 3 Jared Wray brought up a lot of these IT management issues as well.

JG: Okay. We’re taking a slightly unusual position. What we want to be able to do is work with managed service providers (MSPs).

This segment is part 1 in the series : Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Joe Graves, CIO of Stratus
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