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Updated: February 27, 2011 17:24 IST

Shifting gears in the cloud market

D. Murali
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The Indian cloud market is starting to shift gears and is moving from test and proof-of-concept (POC) to real deployments, observes Javier Colado, Senior Vice President Worldwide Sales, Novell, Berkshire, UK (http://bit.ly/F4TColadoJ). “This provides a huge opportunity for system integrators (SIs) and SaaS vendors,” he adds, during a recent interaction with Business Line. We continue our conversation over the email.

Excerpts from the interview.

First, your views about IT spend across the world.

The IT (information technology) industry in general is showing signs of comeback post the global economic downturn. But I feel this is happening in a distinctly fragmented manner across different geographies.

The established economies like the US are seeing a steady but slow recovery, while the growth regions like China and India are growing faster than the rest of the World. Europe was showing some signs of recovery and renewed IT spend in the initial days of 2010, but there was a significant slow down due to the public spending constraints in most European countries. We anticipate a continued period of slowdown during most of 2011 there, as governments continue to implement their plans to control their public debt.

For Novell we have seen growth across the APAC, especially in the main countries (India, China and Japan) and also in the EMEA despite the slowdown in the public sector during the second part of last year. In the Americas we have remained flat, very much in line with the market.

What are the issues faced by enterprises moving to the cloud?

There is a lot of noise about the cloud around the world. Talking about deployment, the US currently leads the way in tangible adoption of the cloud. In markets like India, deployment is slow but it is anticipated to accelerate.

Many organisations are toying with the private cloud concept at the moment to test the waters. Major inhibitors regarding cloud adoption seem to be primarily the regulatory mandates like that of the RBI in the case of banks, and also concerns around security.

According to a survey that Novell commissioned, which covered 210 IT decision-makers across the world, 91 per cent said that they are concerned about security issues around the public cloud area. Migration and consolidation of complex heterogeneous environments are also a critical challenge.

In the move to cloud solutions around the world, what are the key enablers?

As mentioned above, markets around the world seem to behave differently regarding cloud adoption. Government entities and enterprises are increasingly realising the advantages such as effective communication, cost benefits, higher productivity, and lesser carbon footprints by leveraging the cloud. I would think that the government and large enterprises would go for private clouds first, while SMBs would leverage the public cloud model.

In India, I feel the larger adoptions would come from the fast-growing SMB market where they use standard applications which can readily be deployed by the various cloud service providers, thereby reducing costs and hardware footprint, and forming a plug-and-play model.

Hence I would say the key enablers would be regulatory norms and the ability to migrate and run home-grown applications on to the cloud along with the capabilities of the service provider to deploy and run the same. As large enterprises move into this space, the ability to manage heterogeneous environments which consist of multiple hardware platforms, operating systems and applications will become the critical success factor in migrating and consolidating onto the cloud.

What are the parameters based on which customers evaluate cloud options?

This is a complex question, and one that requires a white paper to answer in depth. But to summarise, the obvious factor that drives most customers is obviously TCO (Total Cost of Ownership).

Customers are today spending a great deal of money and effort to design, deploy, manage and secure their business workloads on physical, captive architectures. Cloud architectures offer a way out by aggregating demand for computing resources and allowing optimum capacity utilisation. Multi-tenancy also helps manage costs further by lowering the application management and server hosting costs per tenant.

In addition to this TCO saving, we believe companies are also evaluating the benefits in terms of time: time to deploy and also the time that is freed up for their IT teams to genuinely look at strategic business issues and advantages to the business in terms of agility and speed to market.

As the cloud ecosystems mature, we believe that aspects of security, manageability and governance are also factors based on which customers will evaluate cloud efficiency. Compliance and the ability to certify on international as well as local regulatory frameworks are also going to be important factors. In the long run, we can expect to see comprehensive measurement indexes emerging, both for the customer service experience as well as the robustness of the offerings from service providers.

Is all of cloud open source?

Not all of cloud is open source. But open source provides a strong platform for consolidating heterogeneous workloads onto the cloud, given the ability to optimally function across any hardware platform. For instance, Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise is known for its interoperability capabilities and hence would provide a strong base to build any cloud infrastructure maintaining it to be platform agnostic.

Open source being the base would also considerably reduce the TCO of cloud deployments for service providers which would in turn pass on to the end user as better affordability. We also expect to see increasing enhancements around the cloud platform, leveraging on the expertise of various open source contributors as well as proprietary tool sets.

What is Novell’s position on open source usage?

Novell has been a pioneer in the adoption and propagation of open source, with major contributions to the Open Source Community and with our SUSE Linux Enterprise brand. Novell continues to work closely with the Open Source Community to build the next generation of innovative software that would be required for physical, virtual and cloud environments, especially in the manageability and security spaces.

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