Expert Advice As part of our expert advice series, we asked some cloud industry experts to offer their advice for service providers trying to compete in today’s market. Here is what they had to say:

  • John Zanni, Senior Vice President of Cloud and Hosting Sales, Acronis

Focus on:

  • A good reputation – Make sure your datacenter has a good reputation. That you have great support with human contact 24/7. Have a phone number to call if you customer needs help or at least live chat It is their business at stake.

  • Make sure the ordering process is easy and secure. If not, people will drop off very quickly.
  • Use the latest technology: You need to make sure you are taking advantage of the latest technology from a known brand (such as Acronis) to provide the best and most secure experience.
  • Have attention to detail: Are all of the copyrights on its website 2015 or are they still 2010? The little things matter.
  • Make it low risk when it comes to trying new services: Could your customer try its service before buying? Today, there is no need for the business to invest up front to make sure this is the right service for them.
  • Adam Dodds, Research Director, IT Services and Cloud, IDC New Zealand and Australia

Service providers are experiencing considerable level of disruption to their business models via the movement towards the third platform. There is a strong shift away from procurement based deploy and support models and away from large anomalous outsourcing agreements to discrete services of clear value with high levels of flexibility.

Organizations now have expectations that their service provider will work to provide services based on the way in which the organization does business (e.g. a strong alignment to the revenue or cost of sales drivers) and not the way in which the vendor, ISV or service provider want to bill. This involves creating a partnership with the organization and becoming deeply knowledgeable about the organization, their customers and their industries. Given the proliferation of technology budget across the organization the service provider must now also be able to engage, understand and reflect the needs of the wider business. Technology speak must shift to a business level conversation translating to technology solutions.

Hybrid remains the key structure for an organizations environment and as such the value lies in the integration of this complex environment. Providers such as AWS, Softlayer, Azure and Rackspace have created a level of scale where by the price points are compelling for organizations to leverage across their various workloads. That being said local datacenters also have their place in the mix. For a service provider to compete they must have a brokerage platform that provides a vehicle for organizational choice across these providers and a high level of automation to create agility in the process. Being able to provide a customer choice comes with the need for skills to be able to egress a customer from provider to provider in a non-punitive way.

These platforms are no longer a nice to have, they are a must have.

The service provider must be able to demonstrate how they separate, but enable their service offerings across efficiency based IT (the functional requirements of being a business) and effectiveness based IT (helping the organization be better at serving their customers). The perpetuity of existence for the service provider is to be able to orchestrate and facilitate efficiency IT and create, build and integrate effectiveness IT.

Finally the service provider must focus on optimizing the customer’s environment. It is no longer acceptable for the environment to carry unnecessary overhead, this not only prevents the organization from focusing available working capital on its customers, but is also creates a capacity for competitors to challenge your incumbency.

The public IaaS market is clearly quite competitive and simply offering virtual servers on demand is not likely to be a winning strategy. Cloud providers need a variety of services across compute, storage and networking. On the compute side it is helpful to have a variety of instance types that support the varying demands of customer applications. If it all possible, this should include both virtual and bare metal instances. On the storage side it is helpful to have both block and object storage. Of course care must be taken to produce infrastructure architectures that can meet a variety of performance requirements while at the same time being cost-effective. It can also be helpful to layer on managed services. Those can provide additional profit margin as well as help providers gain greater intimacy with their customers.

  • Marco Meinardi, VP Product, Flexiant, @meinardi

Cloud orchestration is an essential part of offering any cloud services. Not only does it benefit cloud service providers from a cost saving and automation point of view, it also enables a service provider to innovate and differentiate to drive revenue growth. For the consumers of public cloud, cloud orchestration is an essential technology required for self-service provisioning, accurate metering and billing and centralized capabilities for everything cloud.

Ensuring you are fully realizing the benefits of a cloud platform is essential to staying competitive, flexible and agile in today’s market. But many organizations are missing the opportunity because their infrastructure and software does not include cloud orchestration.

We often hear horror stories from cloud service providers that have selected a cloud management (cloud orchestration) solution only to realize it doesn’t give them the capabilities required to launch a successful cloud. Read 10 mistakes to avoid when selecting a cloud management (cloud orchestration) solution in our paper on .

 

Flexiant Cloud Orchestrator V5

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