Part 3 of 3: Doug Clark, IBM UKI Cloud Computing Leader, in conversation with Sam Garforth

To catch up, read Part 1 and Part 2.

Sam: I know that you read lots of international journals about cloud. Do you think the UKI is particularly different?

Doug: I do think we’re different here. We’ve always been pioneers, whether it was the industrial revolution, or the women’s movement. The UKI has always been a first mover. Over the last few decades a lot of that manufacturing and engineering prowess has morphed from being physical to being service-led. We pride ourselves on our expertise in the UKI. We’ve got a fantastic workforce, whether it’s technical or otherwise. Because the UKI is a service-centric market now, the UKI is one of the main cloud markets. The UKI has very actively pursued an outsourcing model, for the last few years at least. Many workloads, services, and processes have been moved into an outsourced environment, a hosted environment, or even an off-shore environment. We’ve all experienced call centers in our day-to-day private lives.  What’s interesting is that I’m starting to see some of that moving back. I’m starting to see some of those data centers that were moved out of the UKI being justified to move back to the UKI as a cloud data center or cloud-based environment. So I’m seeing another shift, because cloud has a lower cost, the business benefit of having it off shore no longer is as strong as it was. How that will ultimately be architected is a good question. It could be that some workloads are private on-premises, some are hosted, and some others are shared.

Sam: Which brings me to the other part of the question: Is the UKI different in which elements of cloud it’s adopting, whether it’s public or private, infrastructure as a service or software and business process as a service?

Doug: I do think it’s different. I’m seeing a lot of infrastructure as a service. We have these managed service providers building clouds, cloud builders building on-premises clouds for clients, we have many clients looking at test and development sandboxes for trials on cloud, and a lot need to be hosted in the UKI and the EU. Because the UKI is services-centric means it’s slightly skewed in terms of its deployment architecture compared with other countries.  The UKI is an early adopter of cloud compared with some of the other European markets. As we’ve seen with the UK government G-Cloud strategy, it’s not just a private sector phenomenon; it’s one that seems to have resonance everywhere.

Sam: Is IBM moving towards “cloudifying” the more traditional business applications?

Doug: Up to now there’s been a lot of activity around infrastructure as a service and building the platform, the foundations onto which cloud will be overlaid. We have evolved that now to platform as service which is the next level of maturity. One of the most exciting areas in which IBM is particularly strong, though arguably not vocal enough about, is our portfolio of software as a service or solutions and applications as a service. We have significant skills and services business built around the deployment of ERP and CRM solutions in our Global Business Services (GBS). That’s GBS’ core business; GBS’s reason for being is to deploy those business solutions. We’re seeing a transition point in the maturity of the cloud curve where software as a service and business process as a service components are coming to the fore.

The IBM software portfolio has had many acquisitions over the last few years and there’s definitely a shift toward software as a service type companies. Does that mean we don’t do traditional software and sell licenses in the usual way? No, it just means that we’re in a good place to offer our customers choice – they can buy in the way that best fits their business need. And there’s another concept in the market, which is bring your own, so our clients have the ultimate flexibility to say “we want to own the assets” — whether it is software licenses or hardware kits  — or “we want that asset deployed on cloud and we want that managed somewhere else,” or “we want to buy it on a pay-as-you-go basis,” or they want to run that particular part of the business the way they’ve always run it. So from a customer’s point of view, the amazing thing is the choices that they have.

IBM can also help clients finance it through our IBM Global Financing team. So here’s a scenario that I can see occurring, and it might change depending on the workloads or depending on the maturity of the market. You might switch from a sandbox environment with pay as you go to saying “yes, we’re happy with that design now, we’re going to migrate that image to our own private cloud and now we’ll deploy our own licenses.” That’s another challenge that IBM and the IT community need to address.

Sam: Where do you see yourself in two years?

Doug: I see cloud as being very much integral to everybody’s design, it’s certainly not a peripheral aspect. Most IT environments will be based on cloud or will have a significant proportion of cloud infrastructure there. So maybe cloud as a title might simply morph out and it will just be smarter computing or just become the norm. We need to be constantly driving and stewarding this change and my expectation is that, as a guy who’s more entrepreneurial — focused on bringing innovation to market — I may well have moved on to another area but I’m expecting that the foundations that we’ve deployed with cloud in IBM are the template and building blocks from which many other innovative themes spawn.

I worked for six or seven years in mobility in the late 1990s and early 2000s and we were too far ahead of ourselves; whereas I think we’re doing cloud just at the right time. Mobility is coming back in, and I think with the convergence of mobility and social media and big data, a whole myriad of new initiatives will be born. So I’m confident that we’ll all be kept busy.

Who knows? Who realized the power of some of these social media environments? Who ever imagined that Short Message Service (SMS) as a fundamental tool to be used by engineers on cellular networks would become something that kids just do as a matter of course, now. It’s bizarre how some of these ideas have become so embedded into our cultures. I think the future is really exciting and it’s brilliant to be able to play a part in it and enjoy doing it. So I’m chuffed to have had the opportunity.

About Doug Clark

Doug Clark is Cloud Leader for IBM UK and Ireland – his mission is to help clients seize their full business growth potential and agility using cloud. Doug has over 10 years of UK and international experience in the IT industry, having predominantly worked with clients in communications, utilities and industrial sectors. Doug is part of a global team in IBM shaping and implementing the IBM cloud strategy.  He leads a specialist team of business development, solution, and technical architects spanning IBM to support the ambitions of our customers.  Prior to IBM, Doug had 17 years international experience in business consulting with PricewaterhouseCoopers and as a client in various blue chip corporations across CPG and Healthcare, holding director level roles in sales, distribution, and process improvement.  Doug has an MBA and a Biochemistry degree.  He is an active member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.