VP Strategy & Corporate Development
PwC: How do you see the customer behavior changing as we emerge from the recession and see rising interest in cloud computing and other nontraditional software approaches?
Ayyar: We are at an inflection point of how IT in the enterprise and government is being viewed and being deployed. I see a big change around the notion of IT as a service. Historically, there´s been a lot of investment in internal support for technology infrastructure, but at the expense of the top tier of the technology stack – innovation and applications – getting the short end due to the focus on maintenance and operations. Going forward, we´ll see complete self-service and agility – as a user you should have the quickest, shortest path to getting whatever you want. This shift has been coming in bits and pieces, but now they´re coming together.
The corollary is that it will create severe disruption that companies will not be comfortable with. One such disruption will be on the historic need for a tightly integrated vertical stack, such as just for the purpose of running Oracle Database or SAP R3. We think that instead IT will shift to the notion of shared resources – pools of capabilities – that are available on the cloud, with different levels of SLAs [service-level agreements]. And not all pools will be equal, but you will be able to consume from a pool that is appropriate for that class of application or SLA.
As the world moves this way, it will create disruptions, especially for those with data centers with neatly defined boxes in their data center architecture. There won´t be neatly defined boxes any more; things will move around.
PwC: We´re seeing increased interest in cloud technology by enterprises. What´s your view as to how aggressive they´ll be to adopt the cloud?
Ayyar: Every company now has some fraction of their data center virtualized. I see a gradual transition to private clouds and to hybrid clouds – more gradual than the popular view on everyone moving to public cloud services such as SaaS [software as a service]. We´ll see more of a bridge or hybrid environment of internal and external services, based on the practicalities of each for the compliance and security you want to enforce. The trick is finding solutions to do that at the pace you´re comfortable going at – and tying the public resources to what you have going on in your data center. ... It will be learning to leverage both the internal and external worlds.
PwC: What will these shifts mean for software providers?
Ayyar: For traditional providers, there is definitely going to be a need for change, and some will make the right moves to embrace this transition. Everyone is going to have to face this. ...We still will need tightly integrated stacks for esoteric applications for a period of time, such a high-performance computing, extreme graphic design, and massive data mining in a real-time architecture. But at some point, you won´t need those tightly integrated stacks. So, over time, more and more applications will be delivered in a services context, as appliances. A lot more work is needed to integrate the services in this new, broad context. ...I expect over the next two or three years to see phenomenal advancement in that space.
PwC: At the same time we see rising interest in cloud services, we see more heterogeneity in device use. How is that affecting your customers?
Ayyar: The heterogeneity of devices in use today, such as Macs and iPads, is something that IT has to handle. The days that you can tailor your policies to specific devices are over and have to change where you think about containers and policies, via profile-based access. IT´s job is to ensure you have that profile-based space on your devices for access to enterprise resources, but when you switch to your personal space, you´re on your own.
For the end user, it´s not whether IT will need to provision you a PC, Mac, BlackBerry, or whatever, but whether it can provision you access to the apps and services you need and then manage them with the security and compliance needed. Our vision is that there will be more divorcing of these layers, so you will have a highly efficient layer where provisioning of capacity becomes very smooth to the point as a user you don´t know where it comes from. At the applications tier, the focus is on the innovation around what the application does. Then you have the access tier. Each layer will need to know how to interoperate with each layer in a hybrid environment.
PwC: What you describe would seem to need a different approach to architecture, design, and governance, right?
Ayyar: Implicit to a move to heterogeneity is a model of management that would become more efficient. Enterprise systems management today is around deploying software for managing heterogeneity in corporate environments, to bridge gaps and exceptions and differences. But if each technology layer – infrastructure, application, and access – is superefficient in its own right, the job of management is more about enabling the CIO to being a more savvy business person rather than managing the complexity within and across the layers.