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SaaS, Mobility

By Brian P. Watson  |  Posted 01-19-2010 Print

What about SaaS? We're seeing more actual use, as compared with the cloud.

Whether you include Software as a Service (SaaS) in your cloud offering is, I guess, an interesting debate. But we use a lot of SaaS services inside Sybase. We're a customer of Salesforce.com. We use ServiceNow for our helpdesk provisioning. We use Quonos for our time reporting and concurrence. We're a big believer in using SaaS technologies, but we have to continue to evaluate what we move out there, and for those we use, we have to look at if we're taking advantage of what they offer.

Continuing to look at cloud and SaaS is a big thing as an alternative to building or hosting things internally or handling peak loads.

Another area is client computing. I use that as a term instead of "desktop computing," because I'm not sure what that means anymore. It's a personal workspace that can reside on a laptop, a desk-side computer or a mobile device. How do you exploit that and make it more effective for people so that it's cost effective, highly available and protects our intellectual property and makes things as secure as possible. Also, what happens when one evening someone announces that you can't go into the office because of H1N1 concerns? Cloud computing, SaaS, client computing, virtualization in the data center - all of these technologies, in one way or another, have a big impact on your thinking about disaster recovery.

And you're a mobility software company, so I'm guessing you have some initiatives there.

Mobility is also interesting. How do we play that card going forward? We are a mobility software provider, so it's of course very interesting to us. We're very agnostic as to the types of devices people use. I see this idea that we're coming, to some extent, to becoming more standard-centric in the back office, as opposed to being device-standardized. It's more difficult to tell people they can't use an Apple iPhone or MacPro workbook versus a Windows device versus a Linux device versus a Droid device. We standardize our applications to be able to push out to all these devices. What we're doing in terms of standards and pulling them back in house, we're saying you can't win a war in saying that you have to have just an Intel-type device that runs a Windows platform. The world is changing in that respect. it's no longer desktop computing as it is personal space computing for the task worker, and for some of your productivity people, we need to provide workspaces for people that give them access to multiple operating environments without changing the physical platform. All of these things are coming to play for us next year.

But all these things are being done in the context of doing more with less, and focusing on the measurements and metrics that tell us how well we're delivering on these promises. That means we're working more, not just as technologists, but as partners with the business to make sure their processes are more efficient and cost-effective. If we can do that at a reasonable cost, we help the company on the basis of both revenue and margins.

What about the staffing front? How does your workforce figure into these priorities?

A lot of this is driven by the new generation coming out of school. It kind of goes back to a philosophy we're developing in our company and in my organization. We want to bring in new graduates. It's a water-fountain effect: you bring them in at the top bottom, have them rise up and then stream out into the company. That means everybody needs to be part of this dynamic "streaming up." To be dynamic, you have to attract these people at this nurturing level--you have to have the thinking, the tools and the structure that makes it attractive for them to come into your organization. These people probably don't have a concept of what a vinyl record is, let alone 8mm tapes, and some won't even know what CDs are. You have to accommodate their needs. How do you create an environment that's attractive for them, and show them they can move up in this water-fountain effect and help you grow the company?

So we have to think about the technologies they like or are accustomed to, which may be very much removed from our fairly rigid, batch-mode, serial processing functions we've had in companies for so long. You have to think about using collaboration technologies inside the company to allow for effective communication. I hate to say it, but e-mail is such an old technology that we're seeing it being phased out by successors like chatting and presence and collaboration technologies that are moving in. And we need those people to help us get there.


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