Jim: What do you see as the future for the cloud and IBM?
Mac: Our core business has been selling to large enterprise customers, selling them the server, the middleware, the solutions, and the associated service enablement. Previously this all was sold directly to their IT shop. Cloud has moved the purchase decisions towards the developer, the business users. Lines of business are making decisions much more so than ever before. It is a business model shift not just a technology shift. We are doing things in a more automated fashion, more of a loosely coupled type of architecture, versus a vertical structure type of architecture.
Companies want to pay for the services as they are using them, they want to try and buy, experiment before they commit. Buying large bundles of software hardware to start a project that might or might not be successful, and not finding out for six or eight months down the road — I think those days are numbered. This ability to do things quickly and easily on the cloud, and be able to learn from that experimentation, is a key element.
Development is moving to the Agile model. As you move to this model, you need to remove things that are in the way of being Agile. For example, something in the way of being Agile, is engaging the IT operations team, because if they do then there is a delay. The more automated that continuous delivery model is to them, the better off they are able to spin things up quickly. Whether that’s a cloud delivered to them in a racked appliance such as IBM PureSystems, or a public cloud such as Amazon, RackSpace, or IBM SmartCloud.
The new model is continuous delivery: code, validate, harvest the information, code, validate, and harvest the information. Companies need to have that control. But with that control comes giving them autonomy, which gives them freedom of choice. I wrote a strategy paper about this and likened it to “Sending your kid to college.” It’s their freshman year, away from mom and dad for the first time, ultimate freedom. They are doing anything and everything. Then reality hits. Wow, I am out of money, I don’t know how to get myself out of this ditch I have dug myself, in terms of financially or bad grades or whatever. It’s very much like that.
Basically people were getting access to Amazon, placing their services on that public cloud, pulling open source things from all over the place. There was no governance model, no level of control, almost too much freedom. But you do not want to go back to the old ways, so I think IBM offers real opportunity to allow that kind of freedom, that kind of agility, giving companies a set of services we have, which are more industrial strength, but giving it to them in a way so that they can consume it in an Agile environment.
A real opportunity is being able to make available some of our services, which today are only really integrated vertically inside of the Java kind of stack, if you will. Making those kinds of services available, like analytic services, security types of services, things that really shouldn’t be tied to the stack, making them as services through simple APIs and available to a broader set of developers doing Agile development on the cloud. That’s a real opportunity.
Something else that’s a real opportunity for us is about moving to that Agile development model. Make it so those developers can build things quickly and easily, have more freedom with choice in tools, framework, language, and also broaden their reach. It used to be that to engage in collaboration with people outside their firewall they had to coordinate with the IT team.
But if you are doing it in a cloud, a public cloud, you now open up the area of collaboration, you can collaborate with other developers, other companies, other businesses. You can collaborate with the open source community. When you do that collaboration, everyone meets in the cloud, a common place for developers to gather and deliver.
That is why I thought the CastIron acquisition was important because it gives us that integration bridge between those two worlds (enterprise and vertically stacked versus cloud and loosely coupled). What is born on the enterprise and is vertically architected can be enabled for the cloud. And things that are born on the cloud, loosely coupled, horizontal, very API-focused, being able to integrate those two worlds together. I thought this kind of hybrid cloud integration space was extremely important. For example, there is a real opportunity for us to help customers take what they have and leverage what we have in the cloud together.
That’s the real challenge, this balancing act. If we put too much emphasis on traditional application development, business processes, and IT, then we miss all the innovation that’s happening in the cloud. But it is going to be a challenge — if we go and try to make the Agile development world more like traditional it’s not going to work.
Going back to the college analogy, trying to get your college freshman to move back home and commute will not work; you could have a massive revolt, your child just won’t do it. Students are free and want that aspect of freedom, they might start getting a plan together where they have more control over their expenses, are more diligent in terms of going to class, and other accomplishments. They don’t want to go back to the old world, and quite frankly you don’t want them to either.
Nor does it make sense for us to throw out all the traditional ways and move to the cloud. But if we can help take the existing assets of customers and use the assets in new and different ways, take advantage of the cloud and innovation, then we win — between this hybrid cloud, both in terms of public and private, and between enabling born-on-the-enterprise workload and cloud-centric workload. We have to be able to bridge those two worlds.