Cloud computing is a transformative phenomenon affecting all manner of channel and end-user organisations. ARN brought together several industry representatives to discuss where cloud computing adoption is today, and ways IT providers can monetise this broad-reaching opportunity.
Nadia Cameron, ARN (NC): What does cloud computing encompass today?
Jason Serda, BlueFire (JS): I think cloud computing to some degree is packaging various services delivered out of a datacentre. At the end of the day, clients and corporates are looking for ways to securely outsource specific functions and get more for less, and be able to have confidence in outsourcing that service as an end result. The concept we have always worked on is that we can build something with bigger scale, with better equipment that’s highly available without those single points of failure, and then leverage that infrastructure, the same way as VMware does a server, across the whole infrastructure stack. And it’s about being able to take that entire infrastructure and sell it as a service, or selecting individual services to cover specific problems. It’s simply about better scale, the expertise required to go in and perfect those services, and doing those effectively and repetitiously. Part of it comes down to the patience of the market too. What I mean by that is clients don’t have three months to wait for a service to be provisioned, which becomes a challenge for the service provider as well around enablement.
John Donovan, Novell (JD): What is the number one driving point from a CIO/CXO perspective to get involved in cloud?
JS: I think cost is a big scenario, and delivery of an end result – having confidence that you’re buying an end outcome, rather than technology underlying it.
JD: Is it lowering operating costs that drives this?
JD: I think so. We’d all be silly to ignore that. You are using leveraged infrastructure.
Dylan Morison, Cisco (DM): Cost reduction and agility are top of mind right now –how quickly can I bring a new service or product to market as we start to have an uptake in the economy. In the past, it took 3-9 months for new services to come on and users to get the application, infrastructure and so on. That is now unacceptable to a business as we ramp up and look for that competitive edge. They’re getting a lot quicker turning on the service to the business itself, and spending more dollars saved from those cost reductions on IT to innovate the business and drive more revenue effectively.
JS: We have Red Balloon Days as a client, and they run a large online website for experiences. One of their challenges is over Valentines Day or Christmas, they will double or triple capacity. So how do they manage that? They manage that by logging in over the Web into control panel where they can opt to bring additional servers online in a timely fashion that are from the farm, and without having to pick up the phone and call us. At the same time, they can maintain high availability over multiple datacentres. It’s not an easy thing to do, and I’m simplifying here, but for them they don’t look at it as getting an x number of servers or upping bandwidth.
Greg Cullen, Novell (GC): Obviously, for a seasonal breadwinner, they’ll have the peaks and troughs in their business. They’re the quintessential organisations that will adopt cloud. What applications and services flow from that specifically?
JS: There is growing demand among CIOs in enterprise and new markets where they’re open about moving into the cloud. There has been enough discussion to make them comfortable about making those decisions. That comfort factor wasn’t there six months ago.
DM: I think they’re analysing their business processes much closer too. Payroll is a good example – it’s a monthly thing in a lot of cases and they’re looking at how to leverage resources on that basis. They’re looking at their business and how all these things tie into the processes, where they have peaks in the business and tiering applications accordingly.
GC: Is it CIOs making those decisions?
JS: It depends on the size of business – in mid-market, it might be more a CEO’s decision, but in enterprise, it’s CIOs. The benefit of a mid-market play is that it’s not about the technology: People just want the end guarantee and what reliability/SLA they buy.
Safi Obeidullah, Gen-I (SO): Depending on what you’re doing and the size of the organisation, you might work with C-level, or you might just work with the systems manager. In a smaller organisation, there’s more opportunity to touch senior management. The decision on software-as-a-service or cloud is not typically made by the IT manager, it’s made by the business or business unit.
Pat Murphy, Data#3 (PM): We’re having conversations about flexibility. Added to that is CapEx versus OpEx – I don’t think there are too many conversations about cloud where that isn’t coming into the equation. With one of our customers, we deliver a number of things through a hosted, or cloud solution, which is the NBNco. It’s an organisation scaling from seven people to several hundred at speed, so the ability to have highly available and redundant solutions brought on quickly is important. It’s not an OpEx conversation, but they have to deliver quickly. David Peach, Express Data (DP): We’re in the midst of a hype cycle around cloud and there is a lot of misconception around what it means. Some of the feedback we’ve had from our reseller and managed services partners, are that two things stand out: To Greg’s point, it’s a different decision maker and about a business outcome, and CIOs just want to pay out of the budget they have now. The other element is around confusion that the term cloud can mean to a customer – for them, it’s a magic cloud where they can just switch it on and it works, without having to take into consideration all the legacy systems and applications they’ve got. If you’re going to switch from an on-premise to an off-premise solution, there is a lot of work to make that transition work.