‘Cloud is a transitional phase for enterprises’

1 Author : February 12, 2013 0

BANGALORE, INDIA: : The Indian cloud market is still nascent and growing, but Citrix knows that the future belongs to Cloud. Currently, there is massive cloud adoption but like any other technology it could just be a transition for enterprises, feels Ravi Gururaj, VP, Products and Cloud Platform, Citrix, adding, the Indian cloud market has the potential to leapfrog into cloud from virtualization or pre-virtualization era

In an interaction with Deepa Damodaran of CIOL, Ravi Gururaj speaks on various aspects of cloud, including cost, skill training and adoption rate. Excerpts:

CIOL: Enterprises are looking forward to cloud, however, many times CIOs are stuck when it comes to security, or prior investments in data centre infrastructure. What can be done to address these?

Ravi Gururaj: All these are transitional. Computer hardware has a lifespan of three years, after which it is obsolete. So, in terms of cost, infrastructure accounts for a small window of transition because when they change it, it will be cloud. This is the first transition path.

Today, some CIOs are taking the existing hardware and converting it into private clouds, but still prefer to run it in their own data centre. This is the second transition path that we see. Security is also another transitional phase.

When mobile phones were first introduced, everyone was scared about privacy and security, however, after a certain point of time they realised that it was not a threat. Similarly, once CIOs understand how secure their data is going to be on cloud, they will accept it. It is just a short transitory phase.

CIOL: However, now and again we get to hear about how clouds go offline, due to various reasons, and how users lost several business hours?

Ravi Gururaj: Cloud is not 100 per cent fail proof, however, I can guarantee that it is a lot better than the outages an internal data centre has. The only difference is that when Amazon’s data centre goes down, the whole world gets to know about it through various mediums, whereas, when an internal data centre shuts down nobody comes to know of it.

If we review as to how many times a big data centre goes offline, why it happened, for how long did it go down, how many services were disrupted, did the whole network go down or was it partial – we will understand that cloud services are more reliable than a CIO’s data centre.

A cloud such as Amazon’s has experts, bandwidth, scale, reach and best applications so that we can do things that were not possible before, such as move workloads on the fly to any geographic location, encrypt them with the best security protocols. Cloud service providers recommend that one should not rely only on one region.

CIOL: Don’t all these additional capabilities come at an extra cost?

Ravi Gururaj: It does have a cost, however, it is still less. Now, if you have to save workloads in two data centres, it is still lower than trying to build two servers. In order to achieve redundancy even with on-premise hardware, one has to buy an additional server, which has redundant power supply, networking, switches etc

What large enterprises end up doing is load balancing. A lot of Indian customers go to Singapore data centre and if there is a problem then they do automatic load balancing to America. Using some intelligence we can even take that extra cost out by doing Geo load balancing, and also by sprucing up software fabric, we can ensure redundancy, and resilience.

CIOL: How do you look at the Indian cloud market?

Ravi Gururaj: The Indian cloud market is still nascent and growing. There is a lot of potential for us to leapfrog right into cloud from virtualization or pre-virtualization era, similar to how we leapfrogged directly to 4G network from 3G.

Even those who belong to the pre-virtualization or those who did not adopt virtualization, can move to cloud because virtualization is a method that is used in cloud too. So, when you are going to cloud you are virtualized, however, and what you avoid here is enterprise virtualization which is eyed by a hypervisor.

Consumer adoption of cloud is happening at a massive scale, however, enterprises are yet to start. The latter were investing so much in IT, and when virtualization came they had to invest there and then now in cloud. They had to adjust and adapt to it first, start doing some POCs and then pick up from there.

Small enterprises will do it quicker than their larger counterparts. Going forward, point of sale will be a tablet, commerce will be increasingly done on e-wallet and mobile payment and all these will be powered by cloud.

CIOL: Why is open cloud important and how can it address vendor lock-in?

Ravi Gururaj: When you pick a proprietary standard, you cannot evolve it or change it because there is no community around it. It means we have to pay a large amount to the host in order to make any change. Today, people are seeking choice in each layer of cloud.

Open source is like an insurance policy because when a vendor tries to monopolise it, the community can contribute to the code base, thus giving the user the freedom to control technology.

Cloud is fundamentally very open. No vendor can today sell proprietary stuff there anymore. There will not be any takers because IT people have got smarter. They do not want to be locked in again in a vendor jail. They will use vendors for support, and implementation, however, the fundamental technology will be open.

CIOL: If you believe in giving the choice to user, then why is Citrix building all the stacks of the cloud?

Ravi Gururaj: Although we provide all the four layers, Citrix keeps every layer open. You can replace any one layer with another vendor and tool, and we support that completely.

CIOL: What is your take on the skill set that is available when it comes to cloud industry?

Ravi Gururaj: Industry along with engineers and technicians have to upgrade themselves to understand how cloud architecture is built. It is a gradual process. They will understand the POCs and in the process get trained, acquire more skills and overcome weaknesses.

There are only a very few cloud skilled workforce. People today recogonise the new set of opportunities that cloud is throwing up and are ready to re-train themselves. Going forward, nobody is going to buy a server, bring it to office or put it in some data centre. Instead they will buy it from a telco, just like how we buy electricity. It is a transitional phase.

CIOL: When it comes to cloud how strong is Citrix’s R&D because we have been hearing about a lot of acquisition of late?

Ravi Gururaj: We acquire only to strengthen our portfolio and not because we are weak. All innovations cannot happen internally. If innovation is happening somewhere else then we will acquire it.

We are very strong in our R&D and have some of the strongest teams. Cloud.com is owned by us. We own some of the largest SAP providers in the world and run them. We help power Amazon, Zynga. We help some of the biggest telcos in the world. We also help power lots of the end points that people are using such as Windows.

So it is an end-to-end ambition that we have about how we provide services in a seamless way. And, areas where we are a bit weak, we either build it or we go and acquire.

It is a transitional phase for us as well and will be an exciting phase for us. Cloud is significant, and is clearly growing rapidly. We are about a two and a half billion plus company with quarter million customers around the world. Cloud is a billion dollar plus business for us and it is all headed up to cloud. It is very important for us. Cloud still is a small segment of our overall revenues, but is growing rapidly. Today, it is becoming increasingly a cloud economy. It may be small now but it will be massive in the future. So we are investing very heavily in that area.

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