Mukul Mathur, IBM: “Cloud is a means to an end, not an end by itself”

In a one on one with DQ Channels, Mukul Mathur, Vice President for Global Business Partners and Global System Integrators for India and South Asia at IBM speaks about the Channel Strategies of IBM

Tell us about IBM Cloud Private

I can give you a little bit of backdrop on what’s happening at IBM on our cloud journey and then how does this align with the various set of things that IBM is working on. According to the IBM report, our announcements in the last quarter about the cloud business globally that closed at almost 15.8 billion dollars, it was a 20% growth and perhaps it was one of the single largest cloud revenue entities globally.

So it’s a very large part of our business and not just the cloud revenue but as a service revenue, which is clients buying our software as a service, platform as a service which is up at 24%, with 9.4 billion run rate. So it’s a very large part of what we do in terms of taking our offerings in the cognitive spaces to customers on the cloud.

Industry reports, like IDC, says that private cloud is expected to be a 28 billion dollar opportunity by 2020-21, which is almost 70% higher than 2016. So it’s a huge opportunity and IBM as very specific offering on the public cloud, we call it the IBM cloud and we have alliances across different solution partners like VMware or SAP, so we do offer we have a data centre in India out of the 60 odd public cloud data centres that and we have tremendous but this announcement which is IBM Cloud Private is what allows customers to basically transform their private infrastructure into a cloud type infrastructure.

So the question is why they would want to do that, so it’s all behind a data centre right. I have an answer which is very simple. If you think about why people use cloud as a business model or an innovation platform, they use cloud, what started to appear as, it is cost and it is you know the, as a way to reduce pricing, as the biggest feature but as an enterprise turned out, the biggest, one of the biggest reasons why customers like the cloud model of application requirement is because it gives flexibility and speed.

Flexibility in terms of how and where …speed because on the cloud you’re able to provision, to change, to add capacity, reduce capacity on a dynamic. So traditional infrastructure in the private enterprise tended to be very …there is a database server, network, there is a storage box for this application. Traditional architecture tended to be very silos and not flexible. By having a technology or opting IBM cloud Private you can convert all of that infrastructure as a cloud server, as a shared service model and you can then start to deploy applications rapidly as well as flexible.

You can start to use data across different applications. You can start to virtualize your network, your storage, your computer and re-allocate or re-assign it across the workload depending on what is coming, where the volumes are higher, where the volumes are lower all within secure, private offering and last but not the least you can then start to develop applications, you can have applications that can seamlessly work across your private and public cloud.

So whatever application you write, if it is trying to access computer and data in the public domain from social sites etc, it can extract that data from inside your private cloud if it is trying to look at data inside your private cloud environment it can look at that data and it can combine the two to draw good analytic cognitive insights capability as you do so.

Otherwise in the past you would have applications in-house applications you’re trying to look for the cloud, you’re trying to look for different applications or try to figure out how to combine, if you can look at the entire infrastructure and data that you have as cloud inside the firewall as well as outside the firewall.

So we believe this offering will help customers make their private data centres or inside the firewall capacities transition into a cloud that is a delivery model or a service model and therefore brings in tremendous innovation in the way they use the applications. So that’s what this is.

So what are the challenges faced by Indian enterprises in a cloud environment?

In my view, Cloud is a disruptive business model. In this transformation journey, therefore enterprise need to have skills and or good consulting or advisory for dividing workload on the public cloud, and the private cloud, the biggest challenge that most enterprises come across skills.

So they need to have a partner, they need to have a provider as well as a partner who can help them navigate this journey. And they can have deep in-house skills too but not everybody would probably have the same level of depth of skills.

They need a partner who understands their enterprise, who understands the value that they are trying to drive from this disruptive model and therefore advise them and implement for them the right mix of public, private or hybrid implementation.

There are two other small points to that. Once they go on this journey of identifying what this is then the piece of work and effort in terms of moving and migration. At IBM we have automated, we use lots of tools and automation and as well as some services to make sure that these migrations are seamless because these are running all operations of businesses.

Clients need SLAs, they need reliability parameters because they will depend on the cloud infrastructure if it is public specifically to be available to them when they need whatever they need. SLAs, these are enterprises -.that’s an area, but I have no idea of what the liability is, whether it would remain as reliable as it is.

Last but not the least many times’ clients start with the assumption that cloud is cheap. And it appears so but the analogy is very similar to whether you have a car of your own or you would always use Uber and Ola. And the answer may vary in the city you live vs the city you are visiting.

So those financial considerations have also to be deeply worked upon because it’s not the most obvious answer. Some places it does turn out to be a great disruptor. For example, we have clients who would want to run a marketing campaign or an event. That’s a one-time activity which may run on the IBM commerce portfolio and marketing cloud environment.

They can run it, get your results out and move on. But if you are running a core banking application you’d rather probably find it better to run it on a private enterprise setup. And if you can make it a cloud like the way we were talking, like a private cloud to have the flexibility but they don’t have forever high ongoing running cost.

How many cloud partners do you have as of now?

Actually, it is difficult to say if there is a category for cloud partners and I tell you why. Because every office that we have today -all the software that we have is available on a premise model. It is also available on SaaS model. The development environment SAAS infrastructure available as the public cloud and private cloud, product, system, hardware, server, storage etc. practically in a way every partner is part of a journey of this cloud and to this extent that I will say cognitive.

Everything in the compute stage or anything that is data in any shape or form, traditional data, unstructured data or data from devices, you know IoT type data, any data is requiring some kind of analytics, some kind of cognitive insights. So in a way all the partners that we work with in some way or the other partner participate in our cloud journey. And we work with a lot of partners. Our partners in the new world vary from very large system integrators and to ISVs to start-ups, to even developers who are trying different things. So it’s a huge range of partners in our ecosystem, that today work with us on the cloud and cognitive technology.

What is the go-to-market strategy for IBM Cloud?

Like I said our partners will be a vary to go-to-market strategy because many of our partners manage the infrastructure or the conversion involved inside the firewall structure as well as provide single point manage services point of connecting to the clients so our partners will be a very large part of this strategy.

What our partners will be doing is, they will be engaging with the customers on one or two points that I talked about before, the customers would need some consulting, some advisory work, some skills, to understand how to integrate what benefits to expect, what workloads to go, how to integrate it across public and private domains for the tremendous services opportunities for partners, there is also a tremendous ability to enhance, upgrade infrastructure in the private enterprise. So a lot of our existing system partners, lot of our existing software partners will participate with us in this journey.

What is the future roadmap for next 12 months for IBM Cloud Private? What kind of sector are you to looking at, go to market strategy for enterprises, verticals you are looking at for the next year, Please share your larger plan?

If I can say that ICP lets enterprises to take full advantage and actually transform them into leverage opportunity in the cloud. So to that extent over the next 12, and by the way there are existing infrastructures, existing investments need not be IBM – these can be other systems or hardware products, servers or storage, these could be a different databases, whether is it from open source or otherwise, hardware from Dell, doesn’t matter.

The nature of the investment of the enterprise does not need to be IBM because it is already an investment that they have made. But this will allow them to do look at it as a cloud infrastructure and deploy applications. What we are doing is, we are spreading awareness but more importantly, we are upscaling both partners as well as clients- most time companies are re-scaling within their own organisation. We are spending a lot of time to train people and skilling the ecosystem around this offering. We are doing events, market awareness, marketing activities to generate this demand.

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