Innovation, Technology, and Life in the Cloud

George Watt

How To Get Customers Thinking About Hybrid Cloud Services

Originally posted at CRN.com April 27, 2012. Join the conversation there.

Hybrid cloud services provide an excellent point of entry for service provider customers

For many companies planning to adopt or expand cloud services, deriving value and cost savings from their investment is the bottom line, and the decision is understandably challenging. Not only can there be uncertainty in relinquishing control of critical business services, but placing all of a firm’s loyalty in one service provider can introduce new risk – which can potentially bring big losses if things go awry.

A hybrid cloud approach allows your customer to hedge its bets, and brings opportunities for resellers to gain new clients. It allows simultaneous but discrete adoption of both public and private cloud systems and reduces the customer’s risk of adoption. Resellers can propose a hybrid cloud system as a proving ground for new customers, demonstrating the strength of their offering through low-risk services and applications on their way to evolving towards offering more business-critical services.

This model has some impressive success stories. Social network gaming success Zynga, whose products like Farmville draw more than 240 million players per month, adopted a hybrid cloud approach to ensure they provide a compelling user experience when new games are introduced. The rapid scalability a public cloud offers enables them to deliver top-notch performance early in a game’s life, when demand for their new services is unknown and less predictable. Similarly, my company worked with a web conferencing and services company that was finding difficulties in scaling to meet demand as they expanded into new markets, so the company worked with resellers in those markets to handle spikes and new demand.

To create new customer partnerships through a hybrid cloud offering, resellers should:

1. Be Deliberate
Despite what many believe, migrating processes into the cloud isn’t always as easy as flipping a switch. So it’s important to carefully evaluate the suitability and value of each target application or service. In addition, this shift can serve as an opportunity for process improvement. If you automate a poor process you may make it faster, but that doesn’t necessarily make it better. That is a critical point for customers new to the cloud.

Execution time for freshly automated process may, for example, decrease from three weeks to three days, which seems like a significant improvement – but modernizing that process could reduce it to ten minutes. A service provider must help their customer unearth the most efficient and effective processes to ensure the greatest ROI. As well, automating the wrong process could help your customer fail faster than they would ever have been able to otherwise, and that certainly won’t earn you any trust points.

It is likely that not every one of your customer’s processes will be suitable for a cloud environment, and poor choices will lead to poor results. Baseline enterprise apps that are already highly functioning are certainly not good initial targets, and apps that have strict compliance regulations might also be something to leave to a later stage, or to simply leave alone. Instead, go after low-hanging fruit – processes that will truly be improved by a cloud environment.

2. Deploy Strategically
Guiding customers through the deployment of these services is crucial to lasting success – and your continuing relationship. A hybrid cloud approach provides many options, so its adoption needs to be strategic and deliberate to ensure a customer takes the right approach:

  • Take time to learn about the customer’s pain points, issues, and about objectives and opportunities they aspire to achieve.
  • Be capable of articulating the value of the changes you are proposing. In addition, help your customer be able to articulate that value. Inability to communicate the value of the initiative can be a fast path to its demise. Those who are able to do so in a compelling way often find a fast path to funding and executive support, both of which dramatically increase the probability of the initiative’s success.
  • Help the customer safeguard the investment by modeling out, simulating and testing services as appropriate before they invest.
  • Help the customer validate their new model by chasing quick-win objectives. By completing short duration projects the customer will see immediate value in the new investment.

Finally, help the customer to demonstrate the value of the initiative to their customers and key stakeholders: “Make them heroes.”

3. Understand the Hurdles
When a CIO deploys new services within an organization there will likely be challenges. Some may be technical, which can be a straightforward fix; but more frequently, they involve people and processes. Those challenges can begin with the CIO’s own team.

Often one of the toughest things for a talented IT group is to realize there are better options than what they are already providing. Sometimes, this stems from the old mantra, “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” In other cases, it may be that the service has not been evaluated in a while and, though it was the best option when implemented, there are better options now. It may simply not occur to the team that an internal process – which is working just fine – could be deployed in the cloud, thereby saving the company money and time.

Just as often, the change is difficult because it’s hard for them to let go of what they created, even if it’s in the best interests of the company. By being cognizant of these internal struggles, resellers can more effectively help customers navigate the shift, thereby easing the transition and building trust.

Hybrid cloud models offer an ideal avenue for resellers to gain a customer’s trust by demonstrating an ability to understand business objectives and quickly show ROI. Done right, it’s a fantastic way for a reseller to get their foot in the door and on their way toward growing their partnership with larger, more business-critical services. The key is to become a strategic counselor, to understand customers’ business objectives, and start with low-hanging fruit that delivers high-value. By doing so, the reseller can become an invaluable partner for their customer and help them to improve their business’ performance.

This article was originally published at CRN.com April 27, 2012. Join the conversation there.

“Rogue” photo courtesy of stock.xchng.

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2 comments on “How To Get Customers Thinking About Hybrid Cloud Services

  1. Pingback: How Large Companies Are Driving Innovation | Innovation Today

  2. Pingback: How Large Companies Are Driving Innovation | Andi Mann – Ubergeek

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This entry was posted on June 19, 2012 by in Cloud and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

About

This site contains articles regarding the practical aspects of deploying, providing, managing, and using cloud computing technologies; though much of the information is applicable to most information technologies. I also share my thoughts and experiences related to innovation, consumer driven IT, social media, management issues, and about what some refer to as “soft skills”.

All works copyright (C) 2009 - 2014 George Watt - All rights reserved.

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