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IT Life: Anand Krishnan, Canonical Cloud

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Canonical’s head of cloud Anand Krishnan talks about his career, his favourite apps and the changing landscape of IT

Each week we profile a leading CIO, CTO or IT manager from the world of technology and beyond to see where their career has taken them and what issues are affecting them today.

What is your role and who do you work for?

I run Canonical’s Cloud division – we help customers build and run cloud and scale-out IT. Canonical is the company behind Ubuntu Server. Most people don’t see that logo every day but just about every app they know and love on their smartphone or in their browser will be running on Ubuntu – we power about 70% of all the cloud and scale-out apps out there.

How long have you been in IT?

ubuntuSince I first laid hands on a computer – I was 14. The high school I was in – in Delhi – had just acquired its first IBM PC and I was introduced to it shortly after and it just clicked. I monopolised that machine from there on out and I knew I had found a vocation. But I’ve been getting paid to do this for 20 years.

What is your most interesting project to date?

There is a paradigm shift in play right now. It’s been almost a decade since the word ‘cloud’ became part of IT vocabulary.

A lot of the focus has been on how to build clouds. We’ve been thinking about the next logical step – once you build it, you think about how to run it effectively.

Customers are realising that they can’t run their cloud with the tools and approaches they use to run legacy IT infrastructure – the scale and complexity simply don’t allow for that. We’ve been working on that problem for about 5 years now and have answers that we now have deployed at customers. I think IT operations will look entirely different in the coming years and this is the tip of that change. That is exciting!

What is your biggest challenge at the moment?

Hiring enough great people fast enough to keep up with our growth. We’re growing very fast, we tend to be quite selective and we’re always looking for great talent that we can go on a journey with.

What technology were you working with ten years ago?

Ten years ago, every customer I had was working out how to leverage digital and the web to connect with customers. IT organisations were figuring out how to stand up the solutions to power those experiences, and that’s where I spent my time.

What is your favourite technology of all time?

Oh, for me that is – hands-down – the notion of computing delivered as a utility i.e. the cloud. It is an absolute game-changer that levels the field and unlocks potential that would otherwise go unknown.

I remember what it was like to launch a startup in the 90s – the sheer amount of capital and infrastructure needed. Fast forward a decade – my team was running a startup accelerator in London at the time – and seed-stage companies could get off the ground for little more than the cost of salaries. Computing needed this. And there is a lot more to come yet.

Quiz: What do you know about Linux?

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