“Oh Cloud” Steve Ballmer once shouted vociferously to an enthusiastic croud at the Microsoft’s World Partner Conference a few years ago. He was later quoted as saying “the cloud creates opportunities and responsibilities” This may sound generic, but feel he’s absolutely right.
I think for vendors such as Microsoft, the opportunity exists to better align themselves with a platform that is more adaptable to the cloud. (Just look at System Center, Office 365, and Azure as examples). I think for the Enterprise space, it means the opportunity to leverage their mission critical applications in a cloud environment with the end result being cost savings. Finally, I think for cloud hosters it means both (opportunity and responsibility). How can they differentiate themselves to end customers so they will be “all in” (another Ballmer line) their cloud and not someone elses, while ensuring their customer can sleep well at night knowing their information is secure?
At the Microsoft Hosting Summit this past spring, one of the presenters discussed ways in which hosters can increase confidence with customers and truly differentiate themselves in a competitive market. They concluded that customers will go to the cloud when they are in control. Things such as security, location of data, and disaster recovery were top of their list. That shouldn’t come to anyone’s surprise, but do feel cloud providers must be prepared to address these concerns if they are to grow.
Managing the SPLA program in particular, I regularly hear cloud providers concerned over Office 365 and what other service providers are advertising. I understand, if I was in the hosting business I’d be concerned as well. We may not like it, but we must somehow acknowledge it. Office 365 is not going away, neither is Azure and neither are the other 8,000 SPLA partners. So what are you to do?
I agree with the presenter at the Hosting Summit. I feel customers want to outsource the headache of managing an infrastructure, but still want a sense of control over their data. I read a statistic that showed over 65% of companies would rather have a private and public cloud than hosting everything in-house. Their main concern as to why they do not do it today is security. I strongly believe that if you can create a brand that acknowledges end-user control, keeping the cloud on their terms instead of yours, and have strong (even public) SLA’s that customers can easily read (no small print) it will make switching from an on premise solution to the cloud that much more compelling.
I understand I am not writing something that you haven’t heard or read before, but do feel it is often overlooked. Even in searching the largest of the large providers on the web, I cannot easily find an SLA on their site. If knowing security is a concern, advertise how you address this issue and listen what your customers want. They will thank you later.
Thanks for reading.