As part of his blog series, “Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing,” Sramana Mitra recently interviewed Indu Kodukula, CTO of SunGard Availability Services, about the many roles he sees cloud computing fulfilling today and in the future. Today, we recap four of the cloud computing roles they discussed. In our next blog, we’ll recap three more roles cloud competing could play in the future. – CM
For nearly 30 years, SunGard Availability Services focused on two specific businesses: disaster recovery (DR)—helping clients recover their applications after a service disruption, and managed services—running production applications on behalf of our clients. Today, we have over 10,000 clients, mostly mid-sized companies between $100 million to $1billion in annual revenues. We have 50 data centers, over 3500 employees and $1.5B in annual revenues, and we have expanded our services to include the cloud computing environment our clients need—enterprise-level and production-ready.
Our businesses give us a unique perspective on the IT requirements of mid-sized companies. When cloud computing emerged in 2009, we recognized the opportunity immediately. But, because of our background and market, we saw the best uses for cloud computing quite differently.
Cloud as Development Environment.
The first use cases of cloud computing revolved around SaaS software companies making use of the pay-as-you-go pricing model for cloud computing. This model enabled software companies to buy resources as needed, which is a tremendous advantage over laying out a huge CapEx (capital expenditures) upfront—before you even know if the product is going to make money. Today, using a commodity cloud, like Amazon, for the development and testing of new products is widely accepted.
However, among our clients, we didn’t (and still do not) see much development of entirely new software applications, so we knew a commodity cloud was not the best choice for our clients. While we, too, see constraints around CapEx among our clients, what we see more often is overstretched IT staffs. With this insight in mind, we took a different approach to cloud computing. We made the decision and, subsequently, the investment to build a production-ready enterprise cloud.
Enterprise Cloud Computing.
Many mid-sized enterprises run heterogeneous environments, have special performance requirements or are in a highly regulated industry. They want to take advantage of the cost-saving cloud computing offers, but their applications are not cloud-ready.
Further, they do not see rewriting applications in which critical business logic –logic that has developed over the last 25 or 30 years—to meet a cloud stack as a compelling business need. Consequently, they will need a place to house that application for the foreseeable future. We think the ability to deliver these types of applications over the Web and from the utility of the cloud model is definitely going to be the default model for delivering enterprise IT services five years from now.
The trends has already begun. We are seeing more and more mainstream departmental applications and new applications moving to the enterprise cloud not for development but, rather, for production. Even we at SunGard are “eating our own dog food,” so to speak, and converting our internal applications to our enterprise cloud over the next 18 months to take advantage of cloud economies. That is a pretty compelling message to our clients.
Recovery in the Cloud
From the beginning, our DR business model encompassed a shared inventory that matched the customer’s infrastructure. Now, by adding production-ready cloud services to our DR services, recovery becomes more about providing a “continuum of availability,” rather than recovering everything at one point when a catastrophe happens. We call this new approach “recovery in the cloud.” With cloud computing and DR services together, a client can decide the level of availability it wants for a particular application. For a tier one applications, it may be no more than 15 minutes of down time; for tier two, no more than four hours; for tier three, 24 hour, and maybe for the rest, a couple days.
Our cloud services let us run tier one applications for our clients or, alternatively, provide a recovery platform where they can run the applications themselves. These capabilities were deliberate design goals for our cloud strategy, coming directly from an understanding of client needs.
Enterprise Cloud as a Consultant
Many of our clients face challenges involving an IT staff under press to be more efficient, as well as issues around consolidation, new service roll-outs and new revenue opportunities. We, too, have faced many of these issues and found solutions.
For example, we have significant experience with decision support and analysis using data warehousing and large-scale data volumes. Similarly, we have production experience with many common departmental applications, and we have a great deal of knowledge about how clouds manage applications and resources. In addition, we have specialized availability knowledge that even a Fortune 50 company would value.
We find many of the next generation application service providers need help building applications for the cloud. So, we are building up a team of solution architects who can sit down with entrepreneurs and help them design their applications.
Cloud application consulting is but one of the new services we expect to offer. As the cloud environment matures, we expect to see the need for. . . (to be continued)
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