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IT Is All About Adaptation

Meet CA Technologies at DevOps Summit at Cloud Expo

"It is early days for PaaS, but a significant issue here is to define what a common platform really is," explained John Michelsen, CTO of CA Technologies, in this exclusive Q&A with Cloud Expo conference chairs Larry Carvalho and Vanessa Alvarez. "Even to say that every organization has a different ‘standard build' is a gross understatement of this problem. For example, our customers may have dozens of so-called ‘standard builds,' so no single PaaS offering will work for them out-of-the-box."

Cloud Computing Journal: Do you see the IT professional's role evolving? Are they embracing the cloud?

John Michelsen: IT is all about adaptation - we can't just spend our time keeping the lights on; we also need to innovate and evolve as the landscape changes. So yes, I'd say that our role is changing and the cloud is definitely at the center of this evolution. According to a TechInsights report that we released a few months ago, nearly 100% of the IT leaders surveyed were satisfied overall with cloud results, and around 50% had already moved mission-critical apps to the cloud. Then there are similar findings around new approaches like DevOps, where another TechInsights report found improvements of 20% or more in time-to-market, software quality, and dev and ops costs. Those are impressive numbers, and I have to think they've gone up since then.

Cloud Computing Journal: How are cloud standards playing a role in expanding adoption among users? Are standards helping new business models for service providers?

Michelsen: Cloud standards are not helping as much as they could. To start with, there are very few actual standards, and the de facto standards that many are using are not really open. As a result, most cloud providers are like islands, closed off to other providers. The joke in the industry is that cloud providers are like the Hotel California - once you commit to one provider, you can never leave! So in critical areas like application migration, data security, identity management, performance monitoring, service assurance, disaster recovery and more, there is no easy way to maintain interoperability. It is still very much a heterogeneous, proprietary, and hybrid cloud world.

Cloud Computing Journal: How are hybrid clouds evolving to allow the coexistence of private and public clouds? What are the challenges to meeting a true hybrid cloud scenario?

Michelsen: The cloudbursting model of dynamic migration between private and public cloud (what many call ‘true hybrid') is still a pipedream for most organizations because of conflicting (and often proprietary) architectures, platforms, configurations, interfaces, and more. You can buy into a proprietary hybrid, but that requires serious tradeoffs (e.g., lock-in, license cost, geofencing). Meanwhile the available open alternatives are still too immature, and in any case focus on differentiation rather than integration. However, there is growing opportunity in a loose coupling of private and public cloud - for example, developing on-prem and deploying off-prem (or vice-versa); or using public cloud to front-end a privately hosted application.

Cloud Computing Journal: Are on-premise software vendors successfully migrating their business model to a SaaS model? What are the challenges faced in this journey?

Michelsen: Some are. For example, at CA Technologies we have been offering key solutions as SaaS, on-demand, or hosted services for several years. We are continuing to develop innovative SaaS-based solutions across every major product line, including identity and access management, performance monitoring, service management, service virtualization, and enterprise mobility management. But the challenges are not small - like rewriting existing code, developing new solutions, building an enterprise-grade platform, partnering with enterprise-grade hosting providers. Not to mention transitioning from selling software to selling services, with all the contractual and financial implications of that, and cannibalizing your on-premises offerings. It is confronting, but necessary. Sadly, many other on-premise software vendors are not making the same transition, but this is what our customers need from us, so this is what we are investing in.

Cloud Computing Journal: With several vendors lowering costs for infrastructure, is there a way for new cloud service providers entering this space to make money?

Michelsen: Yes, in fact with many of the infrastructure and platform cloud providers seemingly in a race to the bottom for compute services, this may even provide a better opportunity for others to differentiate. It is definitely a challenge to go up against such heavyweight incumbents like Amazon and Google. They have deep pockets and a huge presence. But for our customers, cloud is a world of multiple providers, with different value propositions for different use cases. They are looking for both cost-conscious commodity services and for value-added enterprises services that differentiate with superior customer service, enterprise availability, strong SLAs, build and run services, security and privacy, workload prioritization, or a better user experience.

Cloud Computing Journal: What are the challenges for end users to adopt a new model for application development using Platform as a Service? Are vendors doing enough to meet their needs?

Michelsen: It is early days for PaaS, but a significant issue here is to define what a common platform really is. Even to say that every organization has a different ‘standard build' is a gross understatement of this problem. For example, our customers may have dozens of so-called ‘standard builds,' so no single PaaS offering will work for them out-of-the-box. Then there is the internal diversity of these builds, especially for larger enterprises, whose environments cross platforms and technologies - not just Linux, but also Windows, UNIX, and even mainframes. So we see a good opportunity today for departmental use of PaaS, for smaller organizations, or for specific projects, but the complexity of larger organizations needs a different kind of solution than vendors are offering today.

•   •   •

John Michelsen, CTO CA Technologies. As the Chief Technology Officer of CA Technologies, John is responsible for technical leadership and innovation, further developing the company's technical community, and aligning its software strategy, architecture and partner relationships to deliver customer value.

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