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Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: A Second Conversation with Mark Settle, CIO of BMC (Part 5)

Posted on Saturday, Dec 8th 2012

Sramana Mitra: There have been attempts to solve certain problems. But right now there is a larger focus on big data which is driving toward the mid-market. That is one of the trends I see. Certain corporations have tackled the big data problem for a long time by investing in big systems and custom-built solutions. From a private point of view, we are seeing more activity in building big data solutions, which are becoming more affordable for the mid-market. That mid-market could never afford [to spend] that money on warehouses and custom solutions.

We just started a series on my blog called “Thought Leaders in Big Data,” and one company that is part of the series is AgilOne. It is a big data company that focuses on marketing and customer data. They have been around for seven years, have sizeable revenue, and just raised  [funding] from Sequoia and announced that this week. The company has been around for a while, and they have solid customers.

The space has become hot. Our industry is a funny industry. People have been aware of problems for some time, but they started building solutions once they saw that tasks were becoming hard. Then they started investing in order to [start] a real trend, as if the big data problem hadn’t been around for a long time.

Mark Settle: I agree. You mentioned small- and medium-sized businesses. They get access to capabilities that they wouldn’t be able to afford in a million years if they had to build them with their own IT groups. At the other end of that spectrum are the large enterprises. Data becomes so much richer when you think of all the collaboration tools [available]. There is not just progression analysis, but statistical analysis, classic forms of product information, financial information, and retail sales information. You have Facebook or Twitter, cloud scores and sentiment indexes – how people feel about your product, and so on.

CFOs and CMOs can come up with interesting questions which sound very simple, but to implement them would require 300 terabytes in two weeks, which would require a pretty advanced statistical package. It is the same as when we talked about bursting out to Amazon or Rackspace for compute. From a BI point of view, you could get into interesting questions about the seasonality of sales or the competitiveness of different product bundles. To answer those questions, you would need temporary access to much bigger and richer set of BI tools.

One of the startups I mentioned before has a premium model. This means they give you free access to their storage and tools for one ad hoc analysis. If you find them useful, when you decide you want to use these resources on a recurring basis, that is when they start to charge you. So, they give you a free trial and start charging you once you are hooked.

SM: Are there any other trends you want to discuss?

MS: We started out with the cloud, but we have to start talking about mobility devices. I think every CIO is dealing with mobility. Let’s consider a B2C model, where they make their money through a large number of transactions with little dollar value – retail customers. Obviously, they have embraced the mobile device distribution channel. They are now looking for ways to cannibalize their websites and provide some of the most commonly used information from the website on tablets or smartphones.

A second trend is that people are looking for unification or behavior modification tools to make the relationship with their customers stronger and more recurrent. The retail world is being very aggressive, and they are developing strategies to expand applications and thinking of new ways of interacting with their customers. It is very progressive and innovative.

On the other hand, I think most enterprises are concerned about what their employees are doing on those devices. We went through a phase like this before, when BlackBerries appeared. The biggest effort when it came to BlackBerries was migrating approval forms or approval workloads, which people could do while traveling. We are now going through the same thought process of wondering if this is going to be just another distribution channel, where the same information someone gets on his laptop is just going to be redisplayed, using it as a terminal emulator, or if people are going to do new things on the tablet.

One of the things we do here at BMC is to look back and analyze how people interacted with our system management tools and explore ways of reproducing the experiences they had on the tablet as well. There is a product that is going to be launched next year called “My IT” in which people can look at the availability of certain systems or how they are performing and the different types of services they have access to when they travel to different parts of the world. They will be able to submit requests to IT, check the status of those requests, and so on.

I believe we are still at the very early stages. People are still asking if they are still going to be doing things in conventional ways, or if this technology is going to change fundamentally the ways of doing things. I think that market is wide open. In terms of large enterprises, there are a lot of opportunities.

This segment is part 5 in the series : Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: A Second Conversation with Mark Settle, CIO of BMC
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