Not only are there a myriad of business trends and technology changes, but the way partners and service providers interact with client has undergone a facelift – and is still evolving. Infront Systems managing director, Allan King, said the customer conversation is changing – and Cloud is a key point of discussion in the storage arena.
“The conversation I have with customers is trying to understand what Cloud is and what it actually represents. Customers are very excited about software defined networking, hyper scale architectures, they’re all about scale out commodities, architectures and the discussions revolve around that. But they’re really third platform discussions.”
Instead, he said what needs to happen is a conversation that talks about either ‘pets’ or ‘cattle’ – and moving from a ‘servers as pets world’ to a ‘servers as cattle world,’ which is critical to success in Cloud and delivering new value to the enterprise.
“I talk about ‘pets’ and ‘cattle’. The pet conversation is very much what we deal with today. We name our servers our pets; if they get sick, we nurse it back to health. And the reason we do that is because the application workloads we’re running rely on a very highly resilient, a very robust infrastructure. But when cattle get ill, you get another one, or shoot it!” King said.
“But the only way in which we can adopt the cattle architecture is by re-architecting the application such that the resiliency exists within that. So we need to have conversations with customers and frame it that way.”
Indeed, industry experts agree that future application architectures should use cattle, but pets with strong configuration management are viable and still needed. King said there’s still confusion, particularly around the storage platform.
‘We’re confused as an industry about what actually is the right fi t for the right platform at the right time – and I believe it’s a hybrid world. We need to slowly move to a third platform architecture as we re-architect our applications. But that’s going to take time. We cannot ignore the pets discussion; that we have a SLA and we have a duty of care to our organisation that we just cannot lift and shift. So they’re the two diametrically opposed conversations we’re having, but it’s starting to resonate,” he said, adding customers need to look at Cloud where it makes sense.
With disruptive times, comes massive change, agreed NetApp’s Swinbourne. He said the partner’s conversation no longer happens solely with the IT department. The new power centre is the C-level executive and not just the CIO, but the CMO, and often times the IT department is a roadblock when talking about the storage platform and overall IT infrastructure.
“The IT department, in some businesses, are the people holding the business back saying, ‘you can’t to do this’ and forcing a lot of that public hyper scale of Cloud adoption out of frustration and cultural problems inside customer organisations. Time and time again I see customers use hyper scalers to solve what essentially is a cultural problem in their business.”
Partners need to ask the customer where the information is living.
“You need to think about how you’re going to look back on seven years of records. You need to think about cost control – and that’s the changing role of the reseller. It is shifting who we engage with inside businesses and how we engage with businesses. If we’re talking to IT and we don’t have any other relationships, we’re talking to the wrong people.”