Behnia: A lot of customers want to set up an internal project cloud, and for a certain set of workloads be able to place those workloads into an Amazon environment. We've built an abstracted data model so that whether that server is placed internally or externally, from a configuration standpoint it is absolutely identical. The approval cycles are absolutely identical. Except when it comes to run time, we actually invoke the correct set of APIs to be able to leverage Amazon's APIs. So our value proposition is rather than tying all the management to each of the different technology silos, we've abstracted that out so enterprises can build their policies and workflows around the processes as opposed to around the technologies.
Do customers need to change those workflows?
Behnia: I think the answer depends. Much of the work that was done around best practices frameworks and compliance doesn't change. It's technology-independent. But we've seen at least a couple of areas where, to leverage the power of cloud and virtualization, those processes can be optimized. One of the critical areas is around auto-provisioning and configuration management. The whole premise of the cloud is that there's going to be so many changes to the environment that you need to have an up-to-date and scalable CMDB [configuration management database] and configuration management model that doesn't rely on human input. This entire lifecycle can be done in an automated fashion.
Also, the cloud forces some issues around what is a service, what is my class of offerings, how do I optimize my processes around that? Certainly, most enterprises see automation as a clear pathway toward cloud. Many of our clients start by automating server provisioning and application deployment, then move into adding the service catalogue.
Automation tools (not specific to cloud)
There was a recent Forester study that talked about the adoption of automation tools within enterprises of all sizes, and the survey said only about half of the respondents had implemented an IT automation tool of some sort. How does that map to what you're seeing?
Beauchamp: The ones that are adopting automation have a tendency to be adopting the tool for a specific purpose. Once they've adopted it for a specific purpose, they realize what they've got. Our salespeople are not going to try to evangelize how you can completely redesign the way you do IT because it's too long a sales cycle. So they say, if what you're focused on Rackspace [Hosting], as an example, is to be able to quickly provision and bring up a new server for your online subscribers, we'll do that for you. After they've put it that in they say, why couldn't I use that for remediation? So then they begin to spread out. It continues to evolve and move up.
There is nothing growing faster in our pipeline than automation. In this last quarter, our licensed bookings for non-mainframe products was 40 percent year-over-year growth, and the strongest piece within that is automation. And the pipeline's growing faster than that.
Behnia: One of the things you can measure is the time from when somebody in the business requests a new service and when that service is provisioned. We do this as a process audit with enterprises of all sizes. And it's a big eye opener, because if you were to look at this from the business standpoint, that reflects the agility of the IT department in being able to respond to increased demand.
From a revenue perspective, will automation subsume your traditional systems management products at some point?