Cloud orchestration has been named one of five enabler technologies by Deloitte in its Tech Trends 2014 report. An enabler technology is where companies have already invested time and effort, but it warrants another look because of new developments or opportunities.

Deloitte LogoThe report discusses primarily what the CIO and enterprise needs to do to orchestrate the cloud. Because we are service provider focused, here are the relevant points we think you’d find most interesting.  

Established cloud providers are creating storefronts of complementary cloud solutions, which make choosing and buying an expanding inventory of services easier. But we are still in the early days of this expansion, and integration often remains the buyer’s problem. Over time, technical compatibility within a vendor’s stack should become less challenging.  

Service providers must take integration pain away from customers. Service providers are too used to selling raw infrastructure without adding distinct value to their end users through differentiation. Whether they are selling to enterprises or SMEs they need to be able to add value through the services that they offer. The easiest way to do this is to offer an ecosystem of best of breed technologies that plugin to your cloud through the cloud orchestration platform. Work with a variety of companies who can add distinct value over and above infrastructure using an ecosystem of world class products and capabilities. To achieve the integration layer, you need to make it very easy to integrate third party and other more advanced solutions. One way to do this using Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator is through our plugin system that enables service provider to easily deliver a tightly integrated valuable proposition, enabling service providers to grow both their revenue, margin and markets.

Others may yet enter the cloud orchestration market. Systems integrators and professional services firms that specialize in integrating diverse systems could expand and formalize their roles by pre-integrating the components of an end-to-end bundle. For such organizations, this may offer a way to monetize intellectual property around industry and process experience while diversifying from consulting to a product revenue stream. Several high-tech players looking to expand their offerings could emerge, such as Amazon, Google, HP, and Microsoft.

We asked the question earlier this month “To Bundle or Not to Bundle Cloud Services” to advise on the overall model of delivering services. For service providers, the question is whether you want to specify everything you need individually (unbundled), with the additional overhead and complexity that it involves, or do you want a pre-packaged offer which is suited to you and your customers’ requirements (bundled)? There are various views on bundling which we discussed, but as we see it, very much depends on your target market and their use cases, and indeed offering both options may be quite valid.  But as you roll out your cloud services and seek to find ways to differentiate, don’t forget to consider how bundling groups of services together for customers may well be one way to grow. Especially if moving forward, bundling becomes the customers sought solution.

IT’s charter to own cloud integration, data, and security is even more important in this case – especially as businesses are increasingly dependent on hybrid operating environments. Build the components to orchestrate the cloud today, and you’ll be ready to adopt more compelling services as the market develops.

This point got me thinking about our private vs. public view. We believe that public cloud is the future, but as we journey there, a hybrid model is becoming a standard approach. The internal role of IT to integrate clouds, data and security is true in that respect, but what I read here confused me. ‘Build the components to orchestrate the cloud today’. This is bad advice whether you are an enterprise or a service provider. For the purpose of this blog, I’m talking to the service provider – it is still bad advice! We’ve watched countless service providers attempt to build an orchestration layer and after a year or more of trying, they are giving up and maybe trying with OpenStack. We’ve also watched others select Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator and get to market in days – seriously days. When your competitors are in the market with orchestrated clouds including all the bells and whistles, plus plugin technology, you are losing out on opportunity.

Many companies could save money if cloud pricing was based on usage and outcomes rather than licensing fees.

Long-term renting is always more expensive than full ownership, but for sporadic short sharp bursts renting provides a more economical approach. You wouldn’t rent a car every day of the year vs. full car ownership, but if you need one for just a week or a few days, or even a few hours then renting wins the cost benefit argument. The same concept is applicable to our industry and it is a win-win for both the customer and the service providers. For the service provider, they have the opportunity to make additional pay-as-you-go revenues out of their existing IT costs. For the customer, this allows them to optimize budgets with flexibility and also reliability.

Service providers are increasingly adopting a similar approach, offering customers more infrastructure when they have bursts of activity. As a result, service providers need a comprehensive approach to metering and billing that can support a sensible mix of fixed, retained services and PAYG billing to accommodate agile scale-up and scale-down computing. For information on various types of billing models, read a previous blog from Tony Lucas “Cloud Service Provider Billing Models Explained.” Service providers need a way to bill according to their business and that includes having the capability to offer PAYG cloud. The thing is that many service providers are not necessarily offering this as a PAYG cloud. Why not? Often it is because the layer of metering and billing on top of the infrastructure is limited. These metering and billing capabilities have not been built into the cloud offer from the start and the integration with existing billing systems is limited.

Cloud orchestration is an enabler technology. Service providers might have looked at options in the past or perhaps cobbled a solution together. But if you want professional grade cloud orchestration that can allow you to differentiate, create an ecosystem of best of breed suppliers, deliver PAYG and other metering and billing options, then review Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator. It can help you get to market and make money from new revenue streams while retaining your customers. 

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