Pulse of Technology feels honored to virtually host Suresh Sambandam for an exclusive Interview on Cloud Computing Services. Also, thanks to Google Docs, a cloud based application, for making the real time collaboration easier for this interview document.
Suresh is the Founder & CEO of OrangeScape. OrangeScape is a pioneer in platform as a service (PaaS).
- The only Indian company listed in research reports of Gartner and Forrester on PaaS. OrangeScape's patent pending rule engine based PaaS platform enables entrepreneurs to build scalable SaaS based business applications easily.
- OrangeScape was showcased as one of the 3 emerging product companies in India by Nasscom and was also awarded Top IT Innovations for 2 consecutive years.
- OrangeScape's technology is being used by Global brands like Citigroup, Pfizer, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Fullerton and 40 others.
Q & A…
- Cloud Computing is relatively a new trend and a very few Indian companies have dared to venture into this challenging & lesser known territory. What made you think out-of- the-box?
Cloud Computing is an overarching term that is being used to cover a lot of things. Different companies embarked on simplifying different aspects of Computing. Companies like Amazon and Google went after System Infrastructure - leading to a massively scalable public cloud platforms. We at OrangeScape, went after Application Infrastructure i.e PaaS - Platform as a Service. And some, notably SalesForce.com, went after the Application i.e SaaS design itself and came up with the concept of multi-tenant architecture. OrangeScape has embarked on simplifying the Application Infrastructure which includes the complete life cycle from creation-to-production long before we know Cloud Computing in the current form & shape. Embracing cloud became a natural choice for us when the forces came together.
- The rising India economy has lead to the rapid growth of businesses based in India. What is the Cloud Computing implementation scene in India specifically for SMBs (small and medium-sized businesses)?
I personally feel that there is a Long Tail of business applications that need to be developed to address the computing / automation needs of Small & Medium Business. In the pre-cloud ERA, the cost of building software was so high that we often have to define a scope and leave out functionality which we feel doesn't fetch the ROI for automation. Cloud makes whatever that was previously left out of scope as candidate for automation now! Thanks to simplification, access and affordability brought by IaaS and PaaS.
- OrangeScape specializes in PaaS (Platform as a Service). How do you compare your PaaS offering with more established global PaaS providers offerings viz. Microsoft’s Windows Azure & Google’s App Engine?
As you hinted in the earlier question, cloud is relatively new. The IT industry itself is still trying to get grips on various layers of Cloud. For instance, PaaS contains 2 layers: Cloud OS and Cloud Middleware. App Engine and Azure are examples of Cloud OS. OrangeScape is a cloud middleware or in Gartner's terms aPaaS i.e. Application Platform as a Service. Hence we don't compete with App Engine or Azure, we complement them. Applications developed on OrangeScape platform can run on App Engine or Azure or even on Amazon AWS and IBM Smart Cloud. We call this Write Once, Cloud AnywhereTM.
- Windows Azure supports C#, VB.Net, F# & other .Net supported languages. Google App Engine supports Python & Java. Which languages are supported by OrangeScape PaaS?
OrangeScape uses a modeling approach for developing applications. Various aspects of the application are captured declaratively, let us say in XML like or similar format, which is then executed by OrangeScape VM (Virtual Machine). The core of the VM is a powerful, patent pending rules engine which works on a complex networked data model. Using this technology our partners like Wipro have built full fledged ERP that handles all the business processes of any government organization in India.
- As you said, for application development business rules are ‘captured declaratively’; Can I assume that no programming language skill is required for OrangeScape PaaS? What are the basic skills required to get started with OrangeScape PaaS?
It would be more accurate to say CODING from a conventional sense is not required. Just to dig little deeper into this: Most popular programming languages support ONLY Procedural Logic for expressing business logic. However, OrangeScape goes beyond Procedural Logic and supports Rule Based Logic for expressing business logic. Rule Based Logic brings in tremendous power when developing complex business applications. Developers need to only specify what is expected and no need to specify when it needs to be executed. OrangeScape rule engine takes care of that. Both of these logic representation can be used in different parts of the same application based on the scenario and fitment.
Also, at this point it is worth mentioning that our philosophy is to elevate the developers to a new & high level of skill set by eliminating all the not-so-intellectual work that they are doing today. No one will disagree with me that beyond a point, most people aspire to become designers and then solution architects rather than being coders. By choosing to work on OrangeScape platform someone can fast track this aspiration. Anybody who works on OrangeScape starts with designing not coding. We call this White Collar developers. I want to leave this topic with the final note: OrangeScape product definitely needs a smart, analytical thinking, modeling expert who have a Solution Oriented mindset to derive the best out of it.
- How can OrangeScape Cloud provide an alternate platform to small & mid size IT companies who are developing enterprise wide applications on Java & .Net platform?
As I said before OrangeScape platform is a perfect choice for small and mid sized IT companies, especially those who are trying to productize their solutions into SaaS offerings. OrangeScape offers a complete platform to develop - test - stage - live. More interestingly companies can use our platform free of charge for the develop-test-stage environments. They start paying us only when they start earning i.e. receiving subscription revenues from their live application. I am not aware of any other platform offering this in India and Overseas.
- What is the USP of OrangeScape Cloud?
OrangeScape is the world’s only platform to build portable business applications that can run on industry leading cloud infrastructures offered by Google, Microsoft, Amazon and IBM.
- Security is one of the most highlighted concerns for a customer who is more concerned about confidentiality of data. Is it justified?
Of course, yes. When it comes to data it is important to understand various aspects of data that need to be protected:
I can surely say that when it comes to Safety & Security, individuals and enterprises - especially the SMBs, are better off going with a cloud provider. There is no way they can have similar infrastructure to protect the safe keeping of data without the economies of scale. However, Privacy is a tricky one. It is a matter of trust and hence built over time. Today, for instance, we don't worry whether the banking staff is looking into your account to understand what kind of purchases you have been making with your debit card. To reach to this level, it takes time and brand building.
- You have explicitly used Safety & Security. What's the difference between them in context of Cloud Computing Services?
Safety translates into not loosing your data as in Data Loss. Translates into hardware, software and processes that are required to make sure data is backed up, redundantly stored, geographically distributed, etc, etc.
Security translates into protecting your data from hackers. Translates into firewalls, anti-virus, intruder detection, protection etc, etc.
- One more issue cropping up these days about Cloud Service Providers is the Vendor-Lock-In, How are you addressing this?
OrangeScape helps companies to develop portable business applications that can run on various cloud infrastructures. Without OrangeScape, it is quite difficult to move an application that is built to work for an RDBMS based approach to leverage App Engine's BigTable or vice-versa. OrangeScape makes this process a breeze. Applications developed on OrangeScape platform can be seamlessly deployed into any of the cloud providers above. We also have capability to move existing data INTO or OUT of these cloud infrastructures. Part of our roadmap, we have plans to OPEN OrangeScape platform as a community edition to fully address the Vendor-Lock-In issue.
- Say, there’s an SMB in Manufacturing sector for 25+ years. Currently they are manually maintaining data & transactions in excel sheet & PDF documents. They are maintaining Enquiries, Quotations, Customer List, Purchase Orders etc: a CRM sort of requirement. They are using e-Mail to send the scanned documents to the customers. They don’t want to maintain a team of software developers or a big IT infrastructure. How easy/complex is it for a customer like this to implement a customized CRM sort of application using OrangeScape PaaS?
It is definitely around 3 - 5 times easier to develop this kind of application in OrangeScape when compared to any other conventional paradigm. However, the key questions to ask is whether to build a system using OrangeScape PaaS or buy a SaaS subscription. OrangeScape partners are building SaaS solutions for specific verticals more specifically addressing the general needs of the SMB segment. It is better to buy SaaS based subscriptions for standard application and build unique differentiated applications using OrangeScape's PaaS platform.
- Microsoft, Google & Amazon are betting heavily on cloud computing as the next step in the Internet's evolution. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said, the Cloud will wind up "being the place of innovation that lets us pull our lives together the way we want to, to touch people the way we want to [and] to find people when and how, and [in] the way we want to." Do you think the cloud computing will catapult the small but innovative creator to the big league in short period of time?
Cloud is the new Hardware. SaaS is the new software and PaaS is the new middleware. We believe that we will have a unique position and advantage in the Cloud Computing market space very similar to Microsoft riding on top of the IBM PC Wave. Those days Microsoft was the small but innovative creator.
- Currently the top Indian IT companies are from services sector. A few experts believe that if the big IT players don’t get their Cloud Computing strategies right, they may be in for a rude shock as the SaaS & PaaS providers may dent heavily into their revenue. What are your views?
Honestly, it is unclear how things are going to pan out. But, I can tell you that the Top 5 Indian IT players are already investing heavily on Cloud. They surely know cloud is not a fad and going to stay here for sure. My personal opinion is that we have been touting about Solution Orientation in the IT Services play. Cloud / Saas can potentially make that as an imperative to stay in the IT Services play.
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