The IT industry is brimming with confidence in its ability to provide solutions residing in the external IT Cloud. It would be more appropriate to describe this confidence as well-intentioned rather than hard-fact-based given the infancy of external Cloud. But vendors such as Amazon and Dell are throwing their weight behind Cloud by building out data centres to host their infrastructure dedicated to Cloud, so there is commitment and investment from well-known brands. Then of course there are myriads of service providers who want a slice of the pie.

For customers to part with their applications and data is not new. The great wave of Enterprise outsourcing proved that confidence could be ported to external entities. That those established players are not rapidly transforming themselves into Cloud businesses is a different story and show that business models matter.

So back to the customers who are supposed to fund the Cloud and place their IT assets with its providers. The focus is on understanding:
∑ what customers may do
∑ what will prevent them for taking action
∑ those who are actually deploying Cloud solutions
And here confidence is a key word that will determine the future of Cloud. Amazon as an example is running a massive customer experiment to establish the factors that will be critical to the success of its Cloud versions.

The main factors are addressed below

Security clearly ranks high with anything that uses the Internet as an access and transport mechanism. It takes more than encryption to ensure that all layers of a vendor solution are secure.

How customers Access their Cloud provider needs to be engineered robustly and there is an overlap with the security issue. At the back-end the provider needs to have its network designed in order to cope with fluctuations in traffic and availability.

Taking custody of somebody elseís assets is a significant commitment and Data Protection may well be over engineered by some providers. Loss of data is unacceptable as is the time to re-establish the service.

SLAs may appear like legal documents, but they need to be practical as well. Customers who experience a service provider who is confident in engaging SLA and pricing conversations have the upper hand.

Migration and exit plans are another mark of a vendorís maturity. Customers may not think of their ability to take their business and digital assets elsewhere first. But this should be explored early on.

This post was intended to provoke some initial Cloud provider thoughts and Rainmaker intends to explore these aspects in more depth and publish research.
Image credit: DelosJ

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