6 Questions For Accenture's Cloud Computing Captain

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Accenture’s Jimmy Harris Talks About Cloud Computing Opportunities
Jimmy Harris

Accenture has a multi-pronged plan of attack for cloud computing. The solution provider is attacking the cloud on several fronts, whether it's from strategy, consulting, systems integration or its own brand of software, Accenture has a cloud offering for all clients.

But along with making it perfectly clear what it is in the cloud, Accenture is also quite clear on what it's not: "We are not and will not be a provider of raw infrastructure services. The public providers - the Googles, Amazons and [Microsoft Windows] Azures of the world; as well as a lot of the former hosting companies like Terremark, Rackspace and some of the telcos; HP and the like - are in much a better position to do that and we're going to let them do that and use those services on behalf of our clients," said Jimmy Harris, Accenture's managing director of cloud computing.

CRN caught up with Harris recently to discuss Accenture's perception of the cloud, the cloud's future and it's relationships with the major cloud players like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, VMware, Cisco and others. Here are excerpts from that conversation.

Accenture is looking into the different industries and verticals and what they're doing with the cloud. Accenture also has its hands in nearly every facet of cloud computing. What industries are seeing the most cloud uptake and the most deployment; and what segment of your business is seeing the most deployments in the cloud? Where are you seeing the most traction and interest?

What we're seeing is a lot of interest in the communications industry, in high tech, in pharma -- we've done a lot of Salesforce deployments in pharma for instance -- and in financial services and retail. Those are probably the leading industry segments. There is a lot of talk in other industry segments -- the government is one. There's been a lot of talk in that there have been some RFPs but there's probably been more talk than action in my view, at least right now.

From a geographic standpoint … the uptake is actually greater in parts of Asia and Europe, excluding China, than it is in the U.S. and the U.K. We just looked at the adoption rates and the U.S. and the U.K. were sixth and seventh, respectively, country by country. That is reflective also in our pipeline for cloud services.

From a scope of service point of view I would say there is a lot of focus on the infrastructure space, at least in terms of total dollar value of potential contracts … A lot of energy is being spent by our clients on figuring out what it means to manage -- and mostly at the infrastructure level but increasingly they're asking about applications - in this new world that's introduced by the integration of cloud services in their legacy environments. That's probably half of what we're seeing in terms of demand. That is followed by SaaS implementations.

We do an awful lot of SaaS implementation work. I think what we're beginning to see is a great amount of interest in this whole application re-platforming and revitalization/optimization area. Clients are coming to us and saying, 'That's great, but I could build new applications on a cloud platform but I still get this giant legacy lump in the background, what do I do with that?'

We actually have an assessment tool to help them work with clients and learn how they can re-architect their application portfolio to take advantage of the cloud. That will probably grow to be a larger part going forward. The infrastructure stuff, I don't think it will run its course, but I think that as people begin to understand that the real value is in optimizing the application portfolio we're going to see more demand for that. We're beginning to see it now. It's just right now today probably not the largest portion of what we do.


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