Sunday, January 5, 2014

Cloud has democratized technology, CA Tech

Mike Gregoire, CEO of CA Technologies, has spent nearly 25 years in the software and IT services sector where he has done everything from writing a code, to managing large consulting businesses and leading a cloud-based software company. A native of Ontario, Canada, Gregoire is an avid cyclist and enjoys mountain biking races. In an interview to TOI, Gregoire talks about the company's mainframes business and how cloud is disrupting the technology space. Excerpts:
We have seen a higher adoption of BYOD, a transition from mainframes and PCs to smartphones and tablets. Is mobility the next big wave?

India has 960 million cellphones users. In the next 3-5 years, they are going to get connected to the internet. Take a look at internet banking, buying insurance products and all the different applications that are going to be available for a handheld device on a global basis. I think that makes the infrastructure change. We are in three businesses - security, application management and infrastructure management. So, our goal is to be the leading provider on the mainframes, which is half of our revenue and we help customers make the transition to be distributed. And now, our focus is on the cloud. 

Half of your revenue comes from mainframes. Are you concerned that the traditional workhorse business is slowing down?
First of all, virtualisation was invented in the mainframe. We did it about 20 years ago and it's the most virtualised tech environment. If you look at volumes on the mainframe, it's increasing every year. So, it's a relevant platform and we're still investing in it. We have a big team in Hyderabad working on mainframes that consistently comes out with new products. Lot of our workload, automation products and distributed workloads across mainframes are done here. It's a very important piece of software. But we also have to have our eye on the future. 

People are talking about how cloud is a game-changer reducing the cost of doing business. In that context, how do you see your cloud strategy evolving?
We are a $5 billion dollar company with five discreet businesses. So, there is a robust product portfolio and we work in multiple markets. At the higher end, we are dealing with the Fortune 500 on a different scale and requirements. And companies with $300 million in revenues, have never had the ability to get the same kind of technology as a Fortune 500 did. One of the beauties of cloud is that it democratizes technology. Smaller companies have the ability to get the same quality and applications that were never available to them 10 years back. 

Could you take us through the restructuring exercise you undertook?
First of all, its about taking a hard and objective look at skills. We needed people that have that skills on cloud technologies. So, we moved people who had skills that were not necessarily required and brought in people with new skills. We've reduced the number of centres and we are paying more attention to our Hyderabad centre. It has engineers working on all five lines of business. Secondly, we followed a more focused and disciplined product management structure in the company where we look a hard look at the markets we are in, the products in our portfolio matching the right markets at right price points and with the right delivery mechanisms. 

How is the India centre complementing your global operations in terms of your product rollout?
There are 2,000 engineers here and 20% of our engineering talent is based in India. It's a great hotbed for innovation.The engineers here have developed a bunch of Android products that are running on the Android operating system built here in India. They work on all five lines of our business including mainframes, security, IT business management and service insurance. 

Do you want to ramp up on your hiring?
I never worry about headcount. I worry about business to the extent that we are going to do our very best to have the right kind of skills in the right locations. 

What are the key growth engines you want to focus on going forward?
Mobility. We launched our mobile device management product this year. I think that is a business that is going to continue to evolve. In the cloud space, Nimsoft Service Desk, is a complete cloud-based service desk management software that can handle millions of transactions. We acquired Layer 7, the whole notion of machine to machine and security, I think, are going to be really important businesses. 

If you take a five-year roadmap, how do you see your business evolving?
CA is the most relevant technology company with respect to security, infrastructure management and application management for all platforms. We can write that story and it can be true. Five years from now, I think, I would have made that difference here. There is a lot of passion in the people we employ. If I can put them in a situation that can help them win, I think we are going to be great.

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