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Executive Corner: Interview with Business Development Executive for Cloud, Julie Hollway (Part 2 of 2)

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Neil Weightman interviewed Julie Hollway recently. The discussion concentrated on the ways in which cloud is helping industries now and on how to get started with cloud.

(Read Part 1 of this interview.)

Neil: Are you talking more to business departments now about what new things they can do and how they can be more agile in delivering those new things?

Julie: Yes, absolutely. It is still the IT department that is often given the cloud mantle. Typically, when we run cloud exploration workshops with customers, we ask the IT department about the business imperatives, and quite often the IT department will bring in people from the business, so that we can have a fuller discussion and understand what types of cloud solutions are appropriate to meet the business needs. Is the IT department  looking to reinvent what it’s doing with its own infrastructure or is it truly opening up new disruptive business models that it is  able to take advantage of? Or it could be that when you talk to an HR department that they can take advantage of SaaS to run their learning management solution, for example, but they need help on the project side of rolling it out. The HR department might also need security for the students, so maybe HR needs to use some of the IBM software assets and even some of our IBM SmartCloud Enterprise offerings to underpin the technology and the implementation. So it is right the way through from business to IT.

Neil: What cloud products are customers expressing an interest in?

Julie: We can put things into three categories.

For people building their own cloud, we can supply the hardware, we can provide the software stack to provide the systems management, security, and so on, and we can provide the business or technical services to implement. We base our solutions (and our offerings) on our Cloud Computing Reference Architecture – an open, standards-based architecture, accommodating heterogeneous environments, developed from thousands of cloud implementations by IBM across the world.

We can provide IaaS and PaaS services using IBM SmartCloud Enterprise and Enterprise+ offerings, among others, and also our SaaS offerings, such as Lotus Live, Sterling Commerce, Unica, and Coremetrics. Alternatively, it could be that a customer wants to buy an alternative SaaS solution, which we can host or offer as a service to them – we have examples of that, too.

Companies also want to develop their business and new business models for themselves to not only have their own cloud environment but to provide services through to their customers – to be a cloud service provider. We’re seeing a number of different customers taking the opportunity in the marketplace and developing and delivering that to their own customers. We can help them do that too.

Neil: Where are you expecting the most growth: private or public?

Julie: At the moment we’re expecting to see private clouds grow at a faster pace than public clouds. However we’re expecting that the private clouds will have to be integrated with existing IT infrastructure and various public clouds so we will see most environments result in hybrid clouds.

Neil: When you say private, do you mean within the company’s building?

Julie: No. Private clouds can be private on the premises with the company’s own infrastructure, it could be on their own premises but managed by a third party, it could be owned by them but on somebody else’s premises, and managed by a third part such as IBM, or it could be in a shared private environment – multi-tenant environment, where the customer gains the benefit of the cost savings from the shared resources, but they have a very secure environment for their own use, as in IBM SmartCloud Enterprise+.

Again the Cloud Computing Reference Architecture (CCRA) is used as a model to work with customers to make sure that we’re making the right functional and non-functional design decisions.

Neil: If a company is interested in moving to cloud, what would you recommend to get started?

Julie: The first question I would ask is: What are the company’s business imperatives? Are they looking to expand, are they looking to get into eCommerce more? Different people take different approaches. We also need to understand what their IT challenges are, because this might be where we need to start – helping with the infrastructure side of things.

We need to understand what their key workloads are that they’re looking to move to cloud and what are the appropriate cloud delivery models for those workloads. The CCRA can be used as a blueprint across all industries to design the right solution; you just make various design decisions based on what environment that particular company is in and what their restrictions are and their particular focus. Companies might want to implement their own cloud or they might want to use IBM SmartCloud solutions. The adoption pattern depends on whether they want to cloud-enable their own data center, whether they want to use cloud infrastructure or platform services and bring their own applications, whether they want to use business solutions – SaaS or BPaaS – or whether they want to become a Cloud service provider themselves.

In the retail area, we are seeing lots of companies that want to use SaaS solutions, particularly in eCommerce for example – IBM Sterling Commerce, Unica, and Coremetrics. Equally, we are seeing other retailers who want to cloud-enable their own data center and set up their own private, on-premises cloud solution; we’re working with them to increase their virtualization, automation, and standardization.

Some of our General Business customers want to set up their own private environment to become cloud service providers – it’s a new market. A small company can easily start up and become a cloud service provider; we are seeing a large number of those. We’re seeing smaller companies setting up their own infrastructure, but equally we’re seeing other people wanting to use our IBM SmartCloud Enterprise solutions and buy cloud services.

It’s a real mix!

Neil: When you have that conversation with IT departments, I’d imagine that there’s some resistance to cloud because they see themselves out of a job at the end of the process.

Julie: There are various angles on this. If you talk to most IT departments, they are too busy – the business wants this, that, and the other, and business wants it tomorrow; they’re (the IT departments) under constant pressure to provide what the business is asking of them. Any relief in that is going to help them be seen as a good provider of IT services to the business. In some cases, they can reduce their costs and deliver more with the same budget. The business is able to receive the service it wants so much quicker, so the business can be more agile, so it demands more of the IT department, because there’s more functionality that it wants. So it could be that people’s roles change and hopefully the company overall can reduce costs.

Neil:  Thanks Julie – hearing the benefit of your experience working directly with our customers has been really interesting.

Julie:  You’re welcome, Neil.  At the end of the day, it all comes down to the opportunity provided by cloud computing to: “Rethink IT. Reinvent business.”

About Julie Hollway
Julie Hollway is an IBM Business Development Executive for Cloud in UK and Ireland building on over 20 years experience in business and IT, leading key initiatives for clients and IBM in the UK, Europe, and worldwide.  She has significant business management experience, and also a technical background in hardware, software, and services.  This background enables her to understand the business challenges of her customers, and draw together the necessary skills to design and present compelling solutions, considering the realities of implementation through her project management experience.  Julie has been instrumental in developing pioneering approaches and leading teams to address new industry challenges with innovative solutions, for example in retail, with ISVs, e-Business solutions, training business, mergers and acquisitions, and she continues this work now at the forefront of cloud.

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