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December 5, 2013

Q&A: Saying no is not an option for CIOs

CBR spoke to Jacob Lamm, executive vice president of Strategy and Corporate Development and CA Technologies, about DevOps disruptive trends in technology.

By Kate Heslop

Jacob Lamm is executive VP of Strategy and Corporate Development at CA Technologies and is responsible for coordinating the company’s business strategy. Lamm is a member of CA Technologies’ Executive Leadership Team, which defines and executes business and technical strategies. He also leads the organisation’s Business Incubation business units which explore opportunities to build businesses in new markets.

We spoke to Lamm at the company’s CA Expo in London, to discuss DevOps, the cloud and disruptive trends.

What messages have you been trying to get across to visitors to the CA Expo this year?

We would like to educate the marketplace, expressing our views on where we think the IT markets are going; we think that there’s a whole new wave of innovation that’s being held back in the market because of the lack of some of the things that we can provide, in terms of doing these new and innovative things in a managed and secure way. Our customers, the largest enterprises in the world, to some extent are sitting on the sidelines. They’re saying ‘we’d love to do some of these things, but from a corporate governance perspective, security perspective and management and scalability perspective, we can’t do that just yet’. Our message and our focus on DevOps centric management and being able to do things in a managed and secure way is something that the market wants to hear.

Can you tell us a bit about DevOps?

If you go back 10-15 years, you had an IT organisation that would write, code and test applications, then at some point move them over to the operations in the data centre world. That was really good for a static world, where you released new applications once or twice a year and you had long cycles to develop and test things. The pace has now been driven, a large part because of packaged applications being delivered, the consumerisation of IT; users expect things with the same velocity and usability as they do in the IT and consumer world. IT is behind a little bit in being able to match what I call ‘the instant gratification’. In the long run in IT, instant gratification always wins out over sound business logic; saying no is not an option for CIOs.

How do you help to build confidence in your clients when moving to the cloud?

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Folks have realised that management security has moved to the forefront. For many years the application was the main thing. After you’ve deployed it, you figure out how to secure it, how it runs appropriately and how you manage the scalability; these were afterthoughts. In the world of this composite application it’s the other way round. If you think of it, you can get it in the cloud. There are millions of apps, if you want an ERP system, you can go to a hundred different vendors and get the components. So how do you differentiate yourself? It’s the way that you can piece those together. But what they’re starting to realise is that piecing those together is not easy, it requires security. So they want to do this and they turn to vendors like us. The key to the cloud is identity. More than ever, we don’t know who you are, we need to make sure who you are when you come in, and once we know who you are, you have access and you are authorised to do the things you need to do. So piecing things together and building a supply chain is what DevOps enables and that’s what the security that we’re focused on enables. We want the end product to be trustworthy.

Do you think disruptive trends in technology is a good thing?

I think of it as: you spend $100 on a LEGO set, you build this beautiful boat and you’re done, you can’t do anything else. The only way to do something new is to disrupt it, to take it apart and start from scratch and piece it together again. Our industry is built with levels and levels of complexity and we’ve got these shipyards full of LEGO boats and now there’s new technologies coming along, whether it’s startups banks or startup technology companies, that don’t have that infrastructure to deal with. They can take the LEGO set from scratch and start building. The only way you can match them is if you take apart your boats. Disruptive is a good thing as it makes room and levels the playing field. That’s why many large companies, even though they have lots of resources, disruption for them is a lot more difficult. Disruption is great for startup communities, it’s much more challenging for larger companies.

What are the plans for CA Technologies in 2014?

We think we’re on the right path. We think our strategy, which we’ve been on for about three years now, we started off calling it ‘managing the cloud connected enterprise’, the industry is now moving towards the term ‘DevOps’. We think business focused, secure DevOps is really the way for our customers’ needs in order to manage the disruption. We’re going to continue that carved out role. We play a pretty unique role in the industry, we’re not creating the clouds or building applications, we’re manage the mess after those battles happen. We think we’re on the right path. Just as the role of IT becomes more ‘putting things together’ and ‘assembling’, it will also become more business focused, with more understanding of strategic investments. Because they’re no longer technologists, I have to be a business person. They’re more business focused than they ever were and we think that we’d like to be their partner as they make that transition.

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