Private cloud, public cloud, hybrid cloud, ominous cloud, or whatever the cloud, maybe now is the time to create a new buzz word to describe your offering. People have their own opinion on what “cloud” really means, and this leads to even more confusion. I believe the term “cloud” was first used by Eric Schmidt with Google, who in conversation said “cloud.” (Don’t quote me on that).
Regardless of the kind of cloud you market, what you are really saying is “I have a solution to your problem that I can help you with.” It used to be the cloud was synonymous with storage. According to a recent Gartner study, over 50% of enterprises will have some sort of applications hosted somewhere else. I can guarantee not all of that is storage!
Successful companies that host information for other organizations do more than just provide a cloud environment, they provide a solution. Companies who consider themselves a trusted solution provider as oppose to just a cloud provider (or even a service provider) will win. “Trusted” is the key word. The biggest obstacle remains security. Can they trust you with their data?
The question you need to ask yourself is what differentiates your offering from the 8,500 other hosting companies? Keep in mind -everyone is 99.9% uptime (yeah right). The entire IT landscape makes up roughly $2 trillion dollars. According to the Microsoft site, Azure signs up over 1,000 customers (not users) a day and Office 365 claims that one in four enterprise customers use it. It’s not just Microsoft. Take a look at Amazon, VMWare, and Google. Everyone wants to be “Cloud.” Check out http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/cloud/index.html
In my article, “Office 365 Under SPLA” I expressed you need to embrace the big players, not compete. As an example, Amazon and Azure will not deploy RDS, you need to provide RDS via SPLA. Maybe that’s an opportunity. Check out the FAQ guide for Azure http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/pricing/licensing-faq/ (especially under RDS) They provide the infrastructure, you provide the RDS licenses to the customer. Maybe the SAL for SA SKU is your route – (which I might add is NEVER reported). SAL for SA is simply a way for your customer who already made the investment in software assurance on the underlying software to pay less. There’s also license mobility with software assurance to consider.
Here’s my point in all of this- if the IT industry is 2 trillion dollars, I want you to get a piece of that very large pie. To do that, you have to go beyond “cloud.” Question to consider -what are you doing to help customers with their hosted solutions that no one else is doing today? Answer that intelligently, you will win. Maybe this is the “Solution Provider Licensing Agreement” after all.
Thanks for reading,