Q&A: David Akka, MD, Magic Software

Magic Software Enterprises is a global provider of on-premise and cloud-enabled application platform and business integration solutions. With 25 years of experience, Magic Software has thousands of customers and partners worldwide, and offices in 10 countries. The company’s customers say that its core strength lies in delivering business productivity and reducing the complexity of IT projects. We spoke to David Akka, UK MD, Magic Software, to discuss how the company achieves this success by delivering Hybrid Cloud solutions.

Tell us a little about your role in Magic Software
I’m responsible for managing our business in the UK, Eire and the Nordic regions. This involves strategic management of our sales teams, marketing and business development planning as well as working with System Integrators and Independent Solution Vendors. I am also involved in the account management of our high-profile customers such as Sky, Hiscox and Adecco and I’m also responsible for P&L management.

So in summary, I have a very commercially-focused role and I’m also heavily involved in providing our value propositions to key customers, development of the markets I am responsible for and sitting on the company high technical council responsible for our technology proposition—from roadmap development right through to our implementation and deployment efforts.

What is a Hybrid Cloud?
Hybrid Cloud is all about the ability to relay the amalgamation of data and logic from core enterprise applications that reside on premise and other applications that are hosted in the cloud. For example, Hybrid gives enterprises the ability to build management dashboards in the cloud that mash up information from ERP and CRM applications.

Another example is the ability to enable an increasingly mobile workforce to do their job remotely using cloud technology rather than a remote connection, in a secure fashion. In general Hybrid introduces the ability to create new applications that are capable of using information from anywhere and delivering it through the cloud. With the Hybrid Cloud model, enterprises can move at their own pace towards the cloud. It allows users to deploy applications and data where and when they want them—whether it’s private cloud, public cloud or on-premise.

Why would companies consider using a Hybrid Cloud instead of a public or private cloud?
The Cloud premise brings with it many benefits in terms TCO, ROI and shared services, rather than reinventing the wheel. Every organisation has its core competencies and IT assets. Due to issues around governance and competitive advantage, I believe thatorganisations will always want to maintain some of these core competencies internally.

The Hybrid Cloud allows users to benefit from shared assets and capabilities through a coherent platform to deliver mission critical applications whether the user is at home, on the road, in a call centre in the Far East. The user does not know or care where that logic comes from, whether it’sfrom a private cloud or public cloud or the enterprise servers. That’s the real beauty of the Hybrid Cloud proposition.

A hybrid deployment mode allows users to benefit from the cloud’s economies-of-scale while giving them the choice to pick and choose exactly which elements of corporate data and logic they expose to the cloud today—and then giving them the option to change that as and when business initiatives and priorities change.

What size of company would benefit from Hybrid Cloud?
I would say businesses mid-sized and above can benefit from the Hybrid Cloud proposition.

What are the benefits of a Hybrid Cloud?
With Hybrid Cloud, organisations can benefit from the cost-efficiencies of cloud deployment while maintaining secure control over mission critical data. So this is about management, this is about choice and control—all of which should, in principle, allow a more secure and agile IT infrastructure. The hybrid proposition allows organisations to benefit immediately from economies of scale that loud computing brings but without having to make any big decision on what to move to the cloud. Hybrid allows organisations to move gradually to the cloud while also giving the freedom to move either to the cloud or back from the cloud when required.

At what point should a company consider using Hybrid Cloud?
I would say there are three key indicators that a company should start thinking about using the Hybrid Cloud:

  • When a company has started using third party infrastructure and existing architecture is not cloud ready
  • When a company startsconsuming off premise applications and they need to integrate this off premise information with data which exists on premise in a single portal or framework that mixes information from variety of systems
  • When a company wants to start benefiting from the economies of scale offered by the cloud but is unwilling to put their core IT assets or competencies on an external cloud.

How do you turn a private cloud into a Hybrid Cloud?
Hybrid Cloud computing is no mystery and will in all probability become the norm for the way medium and large businesses adopt the cloud. While most companies will have a range of different hardware and software resources, so cloud computing will follow this model so that using multiple internal and external providers will be typical for most enterprises. So it’s not so much a question of ‘turning’ a private cloud into a Hybrid Cloud—as the Hybrid Cloud essentially uses a mix of public clouds, private clouds and on premise information—it’s a question of ‘building’ a Hybrid Cloud extension onto the business so that more flexibility can be achieved as a direct result.

What technologies exist to help organisations benefit from the Hybrid Cloud?
Application platforms that allow a mixture of private clouds, public clouds and on premise applications like Magic Software’s uniPaaS, enable organisations to gradually migrate applications to cloud environments, while preserving the huge investment in existing business logic developed over the years.

UniPaaS allows organisationsto do this by providing users with the ability to develop and deploy multi channelled applications with single development effort, single codebase and single maintenance effort. This enables a gradual and phased migration from on-premise deployment to cloud computing, while maintaining business continuity and reducing the risk involved in such migration. The Hybrid Cloud proposition enables companies to start experimenting what to move to cloud as they can always bring it back, this gives them the ability to quickly and efficiently define their on cloud strategy.

How is uniPaaS helping ISVs and enterprises to benefit from the Hybrid Cloud?
uniPaaS helps ISVs deal with the challenges of cloud architecture by overcoming the complexities of cloud development and allowing ISVs to focus on business logic rather than the technical issues associated with cloud development and deployment. Enterprises enjoy the same benefit as ISVs of fast, simple cloud application development. In addition they can easily ‘mix, choose and change’ which data remains private and which is set free to the public cloud. There is also the advantage that they can avoid cloud vendor ‘lock-in’—by cost‐effectively creating, maintaining and customising their own cloud application.

How can I bring legacy applications into the cloud?
Because legacy and on-premise applications are one key ingredients of the hybrid proposition, organisations do not need to migrate completely to the cloud they can, as I have said, pick and choose which logic and data to remain on premise, on private cloud or on public cloud. With an application platform such as uniPaaS, organisations can create a unified user interface a unified framework for all their IT solutions regardless of where they reside gradually migrate to cloud environments, without losing their investment in existing business logic already developed over the years.

What are your predictions for cloud computing in the next five years?
Firstly, despite the wishful thinking and propaganda from some of the cloud vendor-giants, not all companies will be shifting their mission-critical business applications and databases off their own servers and into a vendor-hosted cloud offering tomorrow. This means that by far, the larger proportion of enterprise applications will remain on-premise for a good few years to come.

I’ve said before that my personal opinion is that while cloud will change everything this is not necessarily a bad thing and for those who embrace the cloud now, being cloud enabled will represent a significant competitive advantage very soon. I have likened this to the evolution to Windows (and now other operating systems) from DOS.

Looking back at the beginning of Windows adoption by businesses, many software developers dismissed Windows, saying it is just a nice user interface, very graphic while saying that their existing solutions had adequate UI and most importantly very good functionality. Later on people started to understand the significant of Windows so DOS application used the emulator to run, still resisting change.

The bottom line was that few years later, DOS applications did not survive the Windows revolution. If Enterprise development teams did not change the underlying architecture of their offering to the business, the business users in many cases rejected the solutions, or resisted it to the point of killing it. And it was even worst for ISVs selling applications to the enterprise market, without Windows architecture it became almost impossible.

Cloud computing is no different—it is an essential strategic inflexion point that we must adopt if we are to remain on track with forward-looking computing methodologies. Fundamentally cloud computing will change the way in which enterprises work and so must change ISVs’ value propositions.

What are the future goals of the company?
While many companies focus on the cloud in terms of infrastructure, we focus on developing and delivering business critical applications to the cloud whether that’s for ISVs or for enterprises. Our key focus is on getting the business critical applications to the cloud irrespective of the infrastructural environment. Our goal is to push the envelope for applications in the cloud in a way that directly relates to companies being able to see when, where and how quickly they will achieve ROI goals by moving their IT stacks to the cloud.

Magic Software’s application platform is ahead of the curve in terms of its proven stability; with thousands of mission-critical, industry-proven applications already in use. The metadata driven engine that underpins our technology gives users freedom to move at their own pace, avoid vendor lock-in and meet any future IT challenges. We are also working on encouraging more developers within enterprises or ISVs to try our application platform with initiatives such as our uniPaaS Jet, our free full application platform.

SHARETweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestDigg thisShare on RedditShare on TumblrShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

Christian Harris is editor and publisher of BCW. Christian has over 20 years' publishing experience and in that time has contributed to most major IT magazines and Web sites in the UK. He launched BCW in 2009 as he felt there was a need for honest and personal commentary on a wide range of business computing issues. Christian has a BA (Hons) in Publishing from the London College of Communication.