How hybrid cloud is transforming IT: An interview with Mike Maples, Jr.

August 19, 2013

News

How hybrid cloud is transforming IT: An interview with Mike Maples, Jr.

How hybrid cloud is transforming IT: An interview with Mike Maples, Jr.

Dylan Tweney/VentureBeat

Mike Maples, managing partner of the Floodgate Fund.

August 19, 2013 10:05 AM

You might like the flexibility of Amazon Web Services or Rackspace, but not quite trust the cloud to keep your critical applications safe, available, and responsive. What’s a paranoid IT manager to do?

If you’re like many technology managers at big companies, you’ll take a look at hybrid cloud technologies that let you mix public cloud services with private clouds and even old-fashioned, on-site technologies in your own data centers.

Mike Maples, Jr. (@m2jr), is the founder and managing partner of Floodgate Fund, a small but fast-rising player in early-stage venture investing. With a background at broadband software startup Motive (which he cofounded in 1997) and enterprise software vendor Tivoli, he’s also got a keen perspective on enterprise technology. Floodgate’s enterprise portfolio includes Egnyte, DoubleDutch, MetaMarkets, SnapLogic, and Socialware.

We caught up with Maples recently to talk about how hybrid cloud solutions are helping ease the transition to the cloud for many big companies.

Want to learn even more about these topics? Come to CloudBeat, Sept. 9-Sept. 10 in San Francisco.

VentureBeat: It seems as though enterprise IT managers have become a lot more comfortable with the idea of the cloud in the past year. Where are we in the adoption cycle for cloud technologies?

Mike Maples: On one hand, it seems like the cloud is ready for prime time. But there’s another way to look at this.

You’ve got a lot of people in IT who would say that they’re never going to use the cloud. I think there was some study that came out recently that said something like 61 percent of files will never go to the cloud, because of security concerns. [A recent Microsoft survey of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) found that 60 percent cited security concerns as their reason for avoiding the cloud. -Ed.] There are other reasons as well, having to do with bandwidth and large file sizes and things like that.

So on the one hand, you’ve got very successful cloud companies like Salesforce and Workday. But if you step back further, you can say, “Well, EMC is twice as valuable as Salesforce.” And they just do storage, right? IBM’s worth more than $200 billion. SAP’s worth $90 billion. Oracle’s worth more than $150 billion.

The question that I find intriguing is: What will be the catalyst that causes cloud adoption to go from “interesting and high growth at the edges of the enterprise” to “mainstream in the enterprise?”

My belief is that it’s going to be something to do with this idea of hybrid infrastructure, or “cloud to ground.” The basic idea is that today, the enterprise IT person has this choice of 100 percent on the ground or 100 percent in the cloud.

Probably what’s going to happen in the future is that IT will say, “Well, my real job is to deliver digital services to the employees and customers and company. It shouldn’t matter where the bits live.”

VentureBeat: What’s making that hybrid approach work?

Maples: It reminds me a little bit of when Bill Clinton ran for president. There was this idea that there was a “Third Way.” It wasn’t all Reagan, 100 percent conservatism, small government, but it wasn’t a bleeding-heart welfare state either. You could be a pragmatic person and care about social good and economics.

I think that right now, it’ll be a combination of startups and big companies that bring about this hybrid infrastructure, this “cloud to ground” set of changes.

Egnyte has always said you can synchronize what lives in the cloud with your computer locally. [Floodgate has invested in Egnyte. -Ed.] The idea is to deliver the files you want on demand and to mask the decision about where those files have to live.

SnapLogic's architecture diagram.

SnapLogic

SnapLogic’s architecture diagram.

Another company that we’ve invested in that has embraced this from a different angle is Snaplogic. Gaurav Dhillon, who was originally the founder of Informatica, started Snaplogic. He has this term he calls “elastic integration.” If you go to their website and look at the front page and what they’re about, it has this diagram that shows how inside the company, you have SAP or Oracle or Microsoft SharePoint. Then, up in the cloud, you’ve got Saleforce and Workday.

The idea is that if you want to integrate across applications, you don’t want integration just among your cloud apps and separate from your on-premise apps. What you want to do is integrate a business process across all of the apps that you use.

VentureBeat: I’ve been hearing about integration in enterprise tech for a decade and a half at least. It’s always been the big challenge. In the pre-Internet days, it was getting your client-server systems to talk to each other. It’s a similar problem today, except with cloud applications.

Maples: That’s pretty insightful. It used to be, like in the ‘90s, applications themselves were stovepipes. Now, I think what’s happened is that what lives in the cloud versus what lives on-premise have become separate stovepipes.

If companies are going to redesign IT and advance it, they’re going to need to adopt cloud infrastructure in a massive way — not just at the edges. Someone is going to have to bridge those stovepipes.

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