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September 21, 2010

Exclusive: Sungard to launch public cloud services

New, "safer" public cloud for enterprise use within 12 months, but what will set Sungard apart from its cloud rivals?

By Jason Stamper

Business continuity and disaster recovery firm Sungard will launch public cloud services within the next 12 months, CBR has learned.

The firm’s Availability Services CEO Andrew Stern broke the news in a CBR interview, saying that the company will bring enterprise levels of service and auditability that he believes are lacking in rival public cloud services from the likes of Amazon and Google today.

"It’s going to be inside of 12 months," said Stern. "Most organisations don’t yet feel comfortable that all they need from cloud – auditability, enterprise levels of service, security, change management, compliance – is there yet. There’s this set of things that we will bring to cloud that’s currently missing."

Stern, who prior to joining Sungard orchestrated the sale of application service provider (ASP) USinternetworking to AT&T, said: "USinternetworking was a very early innovator in what we then called utility computing and people now call cloud computing. But what we learned is that there is a lot of repetition – doing this for a range of companies and their various infrastructures – that is required before you can really understand how to add these [enterprise levels of service]. If I was a CIO I’d want to see a lot before I put my sensitive data in the cloud."

Andrew Stern Sungard

Sungard Availability Services CEO Andrew Stern, who joined the firm in June this year.

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"I don’t want to denigrate what Google or Amazon have done [with cloud] because they have done a great job, mostly for smaller companies or for development organisations in larger firms," Stern said. "But I don’t think it [some of the perceived concern over security, compliance etc] is purely reputational, I think it’s real. This technology has got to mature."

Stern said that as well as bringing greater auditability, security and change management to its public cloud offering, the firm will ensure that it has solved the problem of integrating a firm’s cloud-based services with its on-premise IT infrastructure.

Asked how the company can possibly hope to integrate its cloud provision with the vast array of heterogeneous systems in the typical enterprise, Stern said: "Think about our heritage. We have all the technologies known to man because our heritage has been that we will recover whatever you have to keep you running in the event of a disaster. We’ve been dealing with that complexity for 30 years."

Sungard is already offering what it calls private cloud services to clients – bringing virtualisation and greater levels of automation and business continuity within an organisation’s internal IT infrastructure. This is part of what the company believes is a move beyond simply thinking about disaster recovery services, to thinking about continuity of operations, in particular helping a firm to ensure that its most critical business processes have resilience built in.

"We want to be involved earlier in the discussion, to help companies understand their needs with regards continuity, not only start the conversation when they are looking at their recovery plans," said Stern. He said the firm will hire additional consultants to help to get that message across, but stressed that the company does, "not want to be the next IBM or Accenture."

Sungard claims to have around 10,000 customers around the world, and that more and more of its staff are focused on continuity rather than recovery.

In its latest quarter, Sungard posted sales of $1.3bn, down 5% year over year. But it said if you take out a broker/dealer trading systems business that is falling out of favour as a result of "the industry-wide dynamic by which active trading firms are opting to become broker/dealers and trade on their own behalf", organic revenue was actually up 4%.

 

 

 

 

 

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