Cloud computing is the hottest conversation topic in IT infrastructure, but it has been more concept than cash at most companies. It isn't driving much business for HCL, one of India's large IT outsourcers, either. But, "it's at the cusp," predicts HCL President Shami Khorana, who leads HCL Americas.
It's worth watching how outsourcers attack cloud computing, since their product plans will give a hint of where and when companies start spending real money on it. Except for software as a service, companies haven't put a lot of their budget into the cloud. Our research finds Khorana might be right that CIOs are almost ready to crack open their wallets: one fourth of companies in our recent survey expect to be spending more than 20% of their total IT budgets on private clouds within 18 months.
What might they spend on? Khorana, in a recent conversation, rattled off five areas HCL can make money from cloud computing:
1. Running infrastructure: Running or remotely managing companies' IT infrastructure is a big part of HCL's business today, so it needs to extend that to cloud. It could mean just remotely managing a private cloud that runs in a customer's own data center, which wouldn't be much different from what it does today. It could mean running infrastructure or providing support for vendors who provide cloud services. Or, it could mean providing multitenant cloud services directly for multiple companies out of one HCL facility. That's a big part of why HCL bought a New Jersey data center last year from one of its client--to keep serving that client, but also expand its use to serve other companies.
2. Selling tools: As HCL builds tools for its own use to do tasks such as remote management of private clouds, it will also deliver those to customers.
3. Getting onto SaaS: A lot of software providers need to offer a software as a service option, and HCL is gunning to migrate those vendors to the cloud, and run the infrastructure for them.