10 février 2013

Cloud Builders : 6 challenges, 6 opportunities when surfing the cloud tsunami

In this second "Surfing the cloud tsunami*" post, I look at both the challenges and the opportunities for Infrastructure Integrators and CSIs (consultants and systems integrators) who embrace a cloud builder business model.

Cloud builders design, build and implement private clouds. 
They often complement their services by providing hosting and managed services for those private clouds.
Their customers are companies with a need for private clouds, but also cloud providers who want to deliver cloud services to their own communities, stakeholders or customers (turning their private cloud into a community cloud or a public cloud).

Cloud builders are typically found among traditional infrastructure integrators / hardware resellers like APX, D.FI, Overlap, SCC..., but also inside CSIs like Sogeti, Cap Gemini, IBM GTS (Global Technology Services).
To implement the private clouds they build, they leverage hardware and software technologies from vendors like IBM (PureSystems, Tivoli..) and often adhere to cloud certification programs like the IBM Cloud Computing Specialty.

Cloud builders develop skills and services in areas like:
  • Cloud consulting : implement a cloud roadmap, define target cloud architecture, build services catalogs, design devops processes, transform to cloud, etc...
  • Cloud architectures : leverage reference architectures (eg the IBM CRRA) to build target cloud infrastructure and services
  • Cloud technologies : choose the right HW/SW technologies and components for each workload/use/project
  • Cloud services management : help customer standardize, automate, industrialize cloud services delivery
  • Hybrid cloud, cloud brokerage : leverage public cloud services where useful, supplement private cloud with public cloud services, delivered by a range of trusted vendors.
  • Cloud financing : provide traditional capex, but also opex / pay as you go solutions to customers
  • Cloud services delivery: host and run the customer's cloud once it is built, provide some shared/mutualized managed services, become an MSP (Managed service provider), a cloud provider...
Like many vendors, cloud builders have started with cloud washing
In my role in Cloud Channel Development, I regularly meet with IBM business partners of the cloud builder breed.
Many have clearly undertaken their journey towards cloud, but some still practice "cloud washing" by rebranding their traditional infrastructure virtualization (and managed services) offerings with some cloud lingo, without actually embracing cloud.
In fact, cloud builders meet challenges which are also opportunities when they decide to surf the cloud tsunami :

6 challenges for cloud builders:
  1. Dealing with talent shortage: In a cloud market where tensions rise on the skills front, cloud builders struggle to attract and to retain the cloud talents that they need to stand out from the crowd and be positioned as experts in the private and hybrid cloud field. 
  2. Offering opex solutions: Despite capex (capital expenses) being still favored by some categories of customers, many are increasingly asking for private cloud infrastructures to be delivered as opex (operational expenses), on a "pay as you grow/shrink" basis. The pressure of public cloud IaaS/PaaS/SaaS pay per use forces cloud builders and their technology providers to find innovative ways to also provide private cloud solutions "as a service".
  3. Becoming (or not) a cloud provider: Many cloud builders have already turned MSP (managed service provider) but this side of their business generally lacks the breadth and depth of real specialized cloud infrastructure providers. Most are still in a Cloud Washing or Cloud Canada Dry mode: Despite calling it "Cloud", they provide traditional infrastructure or application hosting, wrapped in some virtualization and serviced, managed, supported by their staff, but with low levels of standardization, automation, industrialization, self service, elasticity... Will they succeed in an increasingly commoditizing IaaS market or should they try to become cloud brokers instead, leveraging other vendors' cloud services?
  4. Resisting Vendors: Many cloud builders come from the infrastructure integrator and hardware/infrastructure software resellers cohort. Sometimes, they have a hard time resisting their vendors' requests/directions. As most of the hardware and software vendors they deal with are themselves struggling to migrate to Cloud, their partner managers are both uncomfortable with cloud and stay focused on HW/SW "load", irrespective of the nature of the projects. Other vendors see the Graal in selling to LOB (lines of business) decision makers and, instead of helping infrastructure partners partner with business integrators, they instead try to push them to "move up the stack" and resell/integrate their business applications. Cloud builders have a hard time resisting both ttraditional reselling business and counter-nature diversification.         
  5. Changing to a cloud culture: Integrators' sales managers and their incumbent sales reps are not yet fully comfortable with cloud and resist it. They find every bad explanations for not selling cloud, from prospects being adverse to cloud to customers already doing some cloud with simple virtualization...Building a cloud culture in an existing reseller or integrator is a challenging task.
  6. Focusing and partnering: By both building and operating/managing clouds all by themselves, many cloud builders lack enough focus to be well positioned both as consultants/archictects/builders and cloud services providers. Besides, when they enlarge and diversify their cloud portfolio, but still want to deliver the related products and services by themselves, they send a bad signal to potential complementary partners who could be otherwise leveraged. It is clearly challenging to move from a "we do it all for you by ourselves" mantra to a "we are excellent in this specific field and we partner for the rest to provide you with a complete solution" approach.
6 opportunities for Cloud Builders:
  1. Providing cloud skills: Cloud talent shortage may benefit those cloud builders who have secured a strong position in private cloud and who know how to leverage the cloud certifications and the skills of their cloud consultants, architects and pre-sales.  
  2. Offering capex and opex solutions: Financially solid cloud builders who know how to leverage vendors' "pay as you grow" programs and financing schemes may find innovative ways to propose flexible opex solutions for private clouds too. 
  3. Managing clouds: Resisting the temptation to become themselves a provider of public cloud services, leveraging instead - as a cloud broker/integrator - relevant complementary cloud services, cloud builders may bring value to their private cloud customers and develop an annuity business by managing their customers' clouds, irrespective of their nature (private, hybrid, community, public...) and of their location (on customer's premises, hosted in a third party data center or by the cloud builder, provided as a public service...) 
  4. Aligning with key vendors: Cloud builders who choose to align with key vendors may benefit from the eagerness of those vendors to show progression in their cloud business. By focusing on fully mastering those vendors' hardware and software technologies, they both earn the confidence of customers in need of expertise and of vendors' pre-sales and sales teams who are then more than happy to provide leads. There is nothing new here, but alignement with specific vendors in new markets/technologies remains an effective and efficient strategy, provided of course the vendor is a winner. 
  5. Igniting a cloud culture: As tricky as it may be, moving to a cloud business is a bit simpler for cloud builders than for those embracing other cloud business models. In fact, from both a technological and a financial angle, cloud builders still deliver projects (consulting, integration and implementation, which often includes HW/SW reselling) when they sell a private cloud (beware capex to opex requirements, though). By refocusing some of their consultants, architects and pre-sales towards building clouds and by dedicating some cloud savvy sales people to handling the first private cloud projects, they may well succeed in seamlessly igniting a cloud culture within their organization and within their customer base. Of course, success depends on executives' alignment behind a cloud builder strategy. As this alignment may prove difficult for most incumbent sales directors/managers, it is certainly better to appoint a dedicated sales leader/executive for the cloud business. 
  6. Focusing and partnering: Cloud builders who understand the power of P2P (partner to partner) to answer customers' cloud needs have an opportunity to both deliver real business outcomes to their customers and to enjoy a strong position in their specific field of expertise. They can be helped in their partnership quest by some vendors and by VADs (value added distributors), but also by dedicated experts who master the art of channels, partnerships and alliances.      
As this is of course a highly subjective list, please share any additional challenges or opportunities you find key for cloud builders in 2013!

*Surfing the cloud tsunami
In the "Surfing the cloud tsunami" articles, I take a look at the IT Ecosystem's migration to Cloud, with a focus on:
  1. ISVs reinventing their business beyond SaaS... (first post)
  2. Integrators and CSIs moving to cloud builders... (this post)
  3. MSPs migrating to industrialized cloud delivery... (next post?)
  4. VARs and distributors becoming cloud resellers, cloud brokers, cloud aggregators...
  5. Providers of Business Services leveraging Cloud to displace the IT market. 
You may also want to read my paper on IT Ecosystem, who's surfing the cloud tsunami or my 6 plus 6 predictions for the cloud ecosystem in 2013.

Loic Simon
Cloud Channel Development Executive - IBM
loic_simon@fr.ibm.com +33 6 76 75 40 71

17 décembre 2012

Cloud Ecosystem - 6 plus 6 predictions for winners and losers in 2013


A few weeks ago, I reviewed my "2012 predictions for IBM's Cloud Channel"

Going into 2013, I want to share my thoughts on who in the french Cloud Ecosystem is likely to struggle or to flourish in an ever growing Cloud Tsunami.

So, here are my 6 plus 6 predictions:
 
2013 will NOT be a walk in the park for traditional IT channels:
  1. VARs and Business Integrators: Many Value Added Resellers still hesitate to fully embrace Cloud. They will start feeling the heat of competition from pure-play SaaS Integrators and Cloud Brokers. Deals lost to cloud and SaaS will start skyrocketing.
  2. VADs: Value Added Distributors advertise their brand new cloud services aggregation platforms ("ArrowSphere", "StreamOne"...). But channel adoption will take off slower than planned. Reasons range from Vendors' inability to seamlessly integrate their cloud services with the platforms to VADs' own transformation to cloud (issues with compensation, priority still given to short term capex transactions, etc...). Moreover, VADs are not yet perceived by many integrators and vendors as necessary, credible and skilled for cloud services distribution.
  3. ISVs: Traditional Independent Software Vendors are now overwhelmed with strategic alternatives when it comes to Cloud. They have too many possibilities to cloud-enable their existing applications (leveraging IaaS or PaaS offerings) or to develop cloud native solutions. They must also decide how and how fast to integrate mobility, big data, social, etc...Wow! 
  4. MSPs: Managed Service Providers have a hard time deciding whether to compete on IaaS/PaaS commodity with the likes of AWS, MS Azure, IBM SmartCloud, CloudWatt, Numergy, OBS, OVH and others or to carve their specific high added value vertical or community niche. Many MSPs with Cloud Canada Dry offerings will struggle to deliver the level of profit they need to surf, let alone stay afloat in the tsunami. As for Telcos, I have no clear vision regarding their ability to win or loose as cloud providers in 2013.
  5. Large established IT Vendors: Big technology and/or service providers run for the cloud gold since a couple of years now. But their KPIs, processes and reporting mechanisms still have to adapt to the changing rules of the game. Add the difficulty they face to ramp up skills and culture and to change behavior and leadership and you see why cloud's acceleration is definitely not a walk in the park for large incumbent vendors.
  6. Cloud Builders: Infrastructure integrators and Cloud Builders build business plans for private/hybrid cloud design and implementation. But they struggle to retain and to attract the cloud talents that they need to stand out from the crowd and be positioned as experts in this field. Besides, many of them don't find it easy to move some of their offerings from capex (buy your cloud infrastructure) to opex (I will let you pay as you grow/use).
2013 will allow key players to shine in the Cloud:
  1. BPaaS and "Vertical Channels": All sorts of content/data providers, business service providers, business process outsourcers benefit from PaaS and SaaS solutions and become providers of BPaaS (Business Process as a Service). Depicted as "vertical channels" by some cloud ecosystem analysts, they are now seen as meaningful channel and solution partners by SaaS vendors who are struggling to get traditional VARs and IT integrators on the cloud bandwagon. Some will even turn their vertical consulting/data/business practice into software that to be delivered "as a service" on the cloud.
  2. B2B AppStores: This prediction is a bit too early, at least here in France. There still might be some early winners in the scope of B2B Cloud Services Aggregation, Brokerage, Marketplaces, Vertical Communities, AppStores... A lot of different actors want to play, ranging far beyond VADs, Telcos, B2B retailers and large vendors. Let's keep an eye on this throughout 2013!
  3. Born on the Cloud ISVs: SaaS Startups begin invading the french market. They will force their traditional counterparts to adapt quickly, treat SaaS seriously, acquire some of those cloud natives or die. Both well funded and bootstrapped startups will benefit from the IaaS/PaaS wars to leverage true pay as you grow cloud platforms for their SaaS applications. By generating leads through inbound/social marketing, they will challenge established vendors even more.   
  4. Business minded IT Departments: More CIOs will morph their IT shops into Cloud Brokers to closely align with LOBs [Lines of Business]. They will provision and integrate IaaS/PaaS/SaaS/XaaS resources through a carefully selected (compliance...) and negociated (SLAs...) catalog of cloud services which will encompass both private, managed private, hosted private, and public cloud services. With a similar approach, forward looking VARs of the "trusted advisor" type will play a similar role for those SMB customers who outsource the CIO function to them. 
  5. Customers as Cloud Providers: Led by those business savvy CIOs, some innovative companies that are today considered as customers - typically of the "large accounts" type who feed sizeable IT departments, but maybe also SMBs supported by their "outsourced" IT department - will rethink their IT and reinvent their business to become themselves Cloud Providers for their own customers and/or other stakeholders. The line between IT and non IT providers will thus blur more and more... 
  6. Cloud Experts: Skills shortage, both in technical and sales arenas, will benefit those who took the early cloud train. Cloud Architects, Cloud Implementers, Cloud Pre-Sales, Cloud Rainmakers... will be chased and lured by providers of all types. What an interesting time for Cloud SMEs (subject matter experts). Hey, if you are one of them, consider joining us and writing, in french, for the new Thoughts on Cloud - Français!   
What are YOUR predictions for the Cloud Ecosystem in 2013?

Loic Simon
Cloud Channel Development Executive - IBM
clubcloud.blogspot.com
loic_simon@fr.ibm.com 
+33 6 76 75 40 71

25 novembre 2012

IBM Cloud Channel - Reviewing my 2012 predictions!

Now is a good time to look back at previsions and predictions.

Below, I review my 6 plus 6 predictions for IBM's [french] Cloud Channel in 2012.
See my comments in red [quite off the mark!] and in green [seems to have materialized...]

2011 had been the Cloud "Coming Out" year for most major IBM Infrastructure Partners.
Pushed by vendors, customers and competition, most infrastructure integrators, distributors and managed service providers I'm dealing with have formalized their Cloud Strategy and/or have started executing it in 2011.

2012 will still NOT be the year when...
  1. IBM and its partners won't need dedicated Cloud experts anymore, to (a) assist/replace their sales people and their architects and to (b) let those continue to conduct their more traditional business. [so far so "good" for this prediction... too bad!]
  2. Compensation plans will really push the sales teams to favor "as a service" Cloud solutions in their proposals. [at least not yet in IBM and with the Business Partners I'm dealing with!]
  3. Managed Service Providers will massively turn into real "Cloud Infrastructure Providers" [the key here is the word "massively". Definitely, most MSPs want to become "Cloud providers" but the majority are still in Cloud Canada Dry mode.]  
  4. Cloud pure players will force all distributors, regional integrators and resellers to start migrating to a real Cloud business model [competition from "born on the cloud" channel players is still nascent here in France. So, most of the incumbents still feel safe enough, but beware...]
  5. IBM Software will really push its partners to leverage its infrastructure software offerings in an as a service [PaaS, SaaS] mode, beyond promoting the ASL contract. [unfortunately, so far, no big push by IBM Sofware... too bad!]
  6. IBM Global Technology Services' major route to market for Cloud services like SmartCloud Enterprise or SmartCloud Application Services will definitely be the Channel [I realize that all 6 of my "will still not be the year" predictions are right on spot. TOO BAD!]
On the other hand, in 2012,
  1. SaaS preeminence among ISVs will (a) help cloud resellers and integrators bloom and (b) push incumbent actors to include more and more SaaS solutions in their offerings portfolio. [Yeah, I must admit that I was a bit dreaming. So far, no sign of blooming!] 
  2. Major infrastructure integrators will "buy" the Cloud skills they lack to accelerate their business model migration towards Cloud...  while struggling to not cannibalize their existing activities [Not yet... a bit too early for Cloud acquisitions en masse...]
  3. All distributors and VADs will provide (a) foundation products and services for Cloud Builders, (b) IaaS, PaaS and SaaS services for Cloud brokers, playing themselves a growing Cloud aggregator role. Beyond commodity services, some VADs will test the listing of SaaS business solutions, acting as a distribution platform for LOB oriented SaaS ISVs [Looking at Arrow ECS and Techdata's Aggregation Platforms, this prediction is a half full, half empty kind of glass]
  4. All IBM new products and services will have a Cloud dimension [inside SmartCloud Foundation, SmartCloud Services or SmartCloud Solutions]. Servers and storage offerings will be redesigned and rebranded with "Cloud". [More or less, all IBM brands have cloudified most of their new products and services. Look at PureSystems as an example]
  5. The word "Cloud" will gradually replace "Virtualization", "Consolidation", "Hosting"... in the opportunities that are shared - through their common CRM - between IBM and its partners. [This trend has clearly taken off in 2012]
  6. IBM Software will deploy "SmartCloud Solutions" coming in majority from its recent acquisitions. These Social Business, Smarter Commerce, Smarter City, Business Analytics, Big Data... solutions help customers "reinvent business" by putting the cloud "under the hood" of key business applications. Luckily, most of them will be packaged to be leveraged by business integrators. [Too slow to my liking!]
So, in summary, my predictions for IBM's Cloud Channel in 2012 have been quite good, actually.
But, honestly, the "NOT YET" part was quite easy to predict one year ago! TOO BAD! [did I already use these two words?]
Now, I'm clearly a little bit TOO optimistic when it comes to both IBM and the existing Channel's speed of transition to the Cloud!

What is your [re]view of the IT Ecosystem's 2012 evolution towards Cloud? 

Loic Simon
Cloud Channel Development Executive - IBM
clubcloud.blogspot.com
loic_simon@fr.ibm.com 
+33 6 76 75 40 71

6 novembre 2012

Surfing the Cloud Tsunami - #1 - ISVs reinventing their business in the Cloud beyond SaaS

This first article of the "Surfing the Cloud Tsunami" series focuses on ISVs' (Independant Software Vendors) evolution to the Cloud.

In 2007, when we created the Club Alliances to help ISVs develop their SaaS or SaaS Canada Dry [hosted software] business, SaaS and Cloud were barely nascent here in France:
  • Salesforce.com was just really starting on the french market and SaaS itself was still a relatively new concept [ASP was still the word in use].
  • None of the big or small MSPs [Managed Service Providers] and Vendors were articulating any Cloud strategy.
  • IBM had just timidly launched a Cloud initiative called Blue Cloud, but had no real value proposition for ISVs regarding IaaS, let alone PaaS and the "cloud enablement" of their applications. What we provided to ISVs then was traditional "e-business hosting".
We teamed to promote SaaS and "Solutions as a Service",
but, in reality:
  • Very few french ISVs were really providing more than a hosted version of their legacy client-server application,
  • The few SaaS Pure Players we worked with (TalentSoft, RunMyProcess...) ran their SaaS applications on dedicated or virtualized servers, hosted in a traditional datacenter, but not actually on Cloud platforms.
Then came Amazon and it all started to change!
I remember facilitating a call between the first (and only one in 2008) Amazon EMEA BizDev Manager and RunMyProcess, whose founders were relentlessly asking me for a Cloud delivery instead of the existing IBM hosting solution.
At that time, IBM dit not yet have any IaaS/PaaS platform for ISVs. So RMP was "forced" to leave IBM to run its visionary SaaS application on AWS, which, I must say, suited their Startup freemium model better.

By 2009, SaaS had gained traction on the french market
The word Cloud started to pop up more often in business conversations with my IBM colleagues and partners.
But most of them still didn't really have a clue about what Cloud meant and many pronounced it "Clud". Nevertheless, IBM Cloud offerings and partner programs started ramping up and accelerating. 

Fast forward to 2012
In less then 6 years since Club Alliances started with its Solutions as a Service mantra:
  • Nobody among the ISV community - and the IT Ecosystem in general - has any more doubts that SaaS / Cloud are the new de-facto delivery models for almost any new application/usage/workload.
  • IBM, our Business Partners and all other big Vendors are now more or less "all about Cloud". 
  • I personally launched the Club Cloud des Partenaires as an evolution of the Club Alliances to help new types of Partners surf the Cloud Tsunami [Cloud Builders, Cloud Providers, Cloud Resellers...]
  • ISVs have currently a whole range of solutions to host their applications. As an example, here is a chart showing the options that are currently provided by IBM and its partners.
Each ISV may choose its own path, depending on:
  • its level of maturity regarding SaaS and Cloud: Saas pure players may leverage third party Cloud platform or decide to manage their own infrastructure (less and less, it seams...)
  • the ability to "cloud enable" the ISV application(s): ISVs moving to Cloud may want to benefit from IaaS and/or PaaS, event if their software is not SaaS.
  • the need or not to continue to deliver a Canada Dry SaaS solution with a client-server monotenant application hosted on a "traditional" infrastructure, which can be either managed by the ISV (less and less...) or by an MSP....
I can now really advise ISVs to focus on their core business.
By forgetting about being their own hoster and relying on specialized Cloud [infrastructure] Providers to run efficient IaaS/PaaS platforms, ISVs can now really concentrate on:
  • having their existing applications become "Cloud Enabled" and/or
  • developing and running new "Cloud Native" or "Cloud Centric" applications
  • reinventing their business instead of rethinking their IT.
Application ISVs should forget about Software to deliver Business Outcomes!
With the Cloud, most ISVs have the opportunity to reinvent their business and become more like "Independant [Business] Services Vendors"
By providing BPaaS (Business Process as a Service), leveraging business content, analytics, human resources as a service, other vendors' solutions and services... beyond their sole SaaS applications, they can dramatically better help their customers reach Business Outcomes instead of only delivering them Software, be it "as a Service"!  

Stay tuned for the next "Surfing the Cloud Tsunami" articles where we will address:
  • Integrators and CSIs moving to Cloud Builders
  • MSPs migrating to industrialized Cloud Delivery...
  • VARs and Distributors becoming Cloud Resellers, Cloud Brokers, Cloud Aggregators...
  • Providers of Business Services leveraging Cloud to displace the IT market.

Loic Simon
Cloud Channel Development Executive - IBM
clubcloud.blogspot.com
loic_simon@fr.ibm.com 
+33 6 76 75 40 71

23 août 2012

IT Ecosystem - Cloud Coming Out - Feet on the Ground, Head above the Clouds!

Since more than 5 years now, I follow the IT Ecosystem's migration towards Outsourcing, Managed Services, SaaS and Cloud.
  • I created and lead here in France two SaaS/Cloud initiatives for existing and potential Cloud Partners: Club Alliances and Club Cloud des Partenaires
  • I practice market watch and curation on Cloud and Cloud Ecosystem
  • I support the Cloud "Coming Out" of IBM Partners.
I can see how each category of IT players progressively move from "Cloud Canada Dry" or "Cloud Washing" to real Cloud offerings.

Feet on the Ground, Cloud Canada Dry and Cloud Washing 
Traditional IT providers are pragmatic and keep their feet on the ground when facing the Cloud Tsunami!
Generally, they start their journey to the Cloud with "Cloud Canada Dry" or "Cloud Washing".

Vendors - Distributors - VADs
Vendors and tools/platforms providers typically start with Cloud Washing. They: 
  • reposition their hardware/software offerings to desmonstrate their relevance for the Cloud [eg to build or operate private clouds...],
  • add some functions to make them more virtual, standardized, automated, "Cloud ready"
  • rename them by adding "Cloud" [eg XXCloud, CloudXX] or a Cloud characteristic [eg FlexXX, XXPod...]
VADs [Value Added Distributors] and Distributors typically follow their vendors. 
Most advanced of them also announce the future availability of their Cloud Services Aggregation Platform.

Infrastructure Integrators - CSIs
The infrastructure integrators who serve large customers also practice a sort of Cloud Washing when they make their Cloud Coming Out: They: 
  • follow the market and talk about Private Cloud projects instead of consolidation and virtualization projects 
  • position their company as Cloud Builders, without fundamentally modifying their business model,
  • continue to install infrastructures on their customers premises or in traditional datacenters, using typical "project" and "Capex" models.
Their CIO customers follow their path or request Private Cloud solutions.

MSPs - Hosters
Most MSPs [Managed Service Providers] and Hosters propose Cloud offerings that are "Cloud" only by Name. These MSPs are adepts of what I call Cloud Canada Dry. They:
  • rename their outsourcing, hosting, colocation, server/storage rental agreements by adding some "Cloud" naming,
  • implement server, storage or network virtualization techniques in their datacenters,
  • invoice these infrastructure "on demand", based on some usage metrics, and continue or not to ask for lengthy commitments,
  • but typically continue to task "software blue collars" and other human operators to run and manage them [provisioning, administration, monitoring, billing...].
ISVs
Since the years 2000, many traditional ISVs have jumped on the SaaS bandwagon by starting with SaaS Canada Dry [It looks like SaaS, but is is not SaaS!]: They
  • make sure that their applications are accessible through internet,
  • host them in datacenters [their own datacenter or, more often, those provided by specialized hosters], on dedicated or virtualized servers, with dedicated or mutualized access.
  • rename them by adding "SaaS", "on demand" or, since a few years, "Cloud".
  • invoice them periodically [eg monthly, quarterly, annually], with or without customer commitment, using some usage metrics [eg per user, per transaction, per unit...].
Business Integrators - Regional VARs - Consultants
At least here in France, Cloud practices are not yet the norm among established business integrators and VARs [Value Added Resellers] who propose solutions to LOBs [Lines of Business] or to local SMB customers. For sure, before jumping into the Cloud Tsunami, they still prefer to wait for: 
  • the arrival of new "Pure Players" competitors of the Cloud Broker or SaaS Integrator types
  • the development of BPaaS [Business Process as a Service] offerings by professional services firms like Marketing Agencies, CPAs, etc...],
  • better XaaS offerings [especially SaaS] and some help by their traditional partners [ISVs, vendors, distributors and other providers] in order to migrate their business model.
  • more pressing/precise requests from their customers [Beware: despite the lack of interest and of skills demonstrated by their usual "Trusted Advisors", these customers are nevertheless more and more conscious of the business benefits of Cloud solutions!].
Head above the Clouds, new Cloud Business Models
All IT Ecosystem Partners are forced to transform their business when they REALLY embrace the Cloud.
They then reinvent their business and rethink the way they deliver IT to their customers.
By following the steps of existing Cloud Pure Players, they understand the neeed to specialize and to surround themselves with complementary partners.
They become:
  • Cloud Technology Providers,
  • Cloud Builders, 
  • Cloud Infrastructure Providers [Cloud Service Providers, Cloud Hosters...],
  • Cloud Application Providers [SaaS ISV...]
  • Cloud Services Solution Providers [Cloud Broker, Reseller/Integrator of Cloud Services...]
Cloud Technology Providers...
...leverage [or not] VADs to provide their technologies [software, appliances, hardware...] to:
  • Cloud Builders, who will integrate [and often resell] these technologies in Cloud infrastructures that they will typically implement on behalf of their customers
  • Cloud Infrastructure Providers who will leverage them to implement, develop, deliver, enhance their own IaaS and/or PaaS Cloud services
  • Cloud Application Providers who will use these technologies to build and/or deliver their SaaS and/or BPaaS solutions
  • Cloud Services Solution Providers who will leverage some of them to better deliver and integrate public cloud services [IaaS, PaaS, SaaS...]
  • End Users  
Cloud Builders...
...typically bring their Cloud infrastructure related implementation services [and sometimes also their ability to manage those cloud infrastructures] to:
  • End Customers who want to implement Private Clouds, but also Community Clouds or Public Clouds that they aim at their own Customers
  • Cloud Infrastructure Providers.
Cloud Infrastructure Providers...
...provide their Platforms and Services in the IaaS/PaaS space to:
  • Cloud Application Providers who procure these services either directly from the Cloud Infrastructure Provider or through a VAD [who then plays the role of a Cloud services aggregator] and leverage them to build and deliver their SaaS and/or BPaaS solutions.
  • End Customers who get IaaS and/or PaaS services directly from the Cloud Infrastructure Provider or through a Cloud Services Solution Provider [who either plays the role of a Cloud Broker or integrates the cloud services in its own solutions.]
Cloud Application Providers...
...propose their SaaS and/or BPaaS services to End Customers:
  • either directly, without leveraging any channel
  • or through VADs, Cloud Services Solution Providers [or also other Application Providers] who resell and/or integrate these services  in their own solutions.
Cloud Services Solution Providers...
... resell, aggregate, broker, or integrate IaaS, PaaS and/or SaaS services that they generally provide as part of their own services and/or solutions to:
  • End Customers [or Application Providers] who trust them as Cloud services integrators [business ou infrastructure solutions], Cloud brokers, "trusted advisors" [eg outsourced CIO], BPaaS [Business Process as a Service] provider...
Customers...
... are not always "End" Customers and can themselves become Cloud Providers [IaaS, PaaS, SaaS and mostly BPaaS] for their own Ecosystem, their own entities/units, their own Customers!


What about you? Are you ready to focus and to Partner to surf the Cloud Tsunami?

 Loic Simon
Cloud Channel Development Executive - IBM
clubcloud.blogspot.com
loic_simon@fr.ibm.com 
+33 6 76 75 40 71  


Cloud Certifications: Constraint or Opportunity, Must or Gadget?

Cloud Channel Programs flourish among Vendors...
VADs deploy Cloud BootCamps...

Channel Partners are pushed to achieve Cloud Certifications...

Certifications: Constraint or Opportunity?
There has always been a hot debate about product certifications that are perceived either as a constraint or an opportunity, depending on their real relevance for the company or its staff: 

Constraint, if...
  • it's the only way to keep a Partner status or a right to resell the product.
  • the certifications' content is not in line with "real life" and thus, is perceived as meaningless.
  • they have to be achieved too often, etc...
Opportunity, when...
  • they allow a real differentiation on the market [both for the company and for its employees] or in front of the Vendor's teams
  • the ROI is immediate, eg with real leads, real strong collaboration or real additional marketing funds [or real promotion]
  • they really start or enhance the employees skills [and the company will be able to retain talent thanks to a growth strategy that is really related to the chosen area]
When it comes to broader certifications like the current Cloud certifications, programs or specialties, you should get answers to these two questions before going further:

[Q1] Is the Vendor's [Cloud] Partner Program truly adapted to your Business Model?
Some programs allow a fine grained adaptation of the criterias that allow access to the program/specialty and of the associated benefits.

As an example, the "IBM Cloud Computing Specialty" specifically adresses 5 very different Cloud Business Models:
  • Cloud Builder: The Cloud Builder terminology is now used by our whole Industry to designate companies that are experts in designing, architecting, implementating Private and Hybrid Clouds. IBM VADs can also access this Specialty as they support Cloud Builders.
  • Cloud Infrastructure Provider [MSP/CSP, focused on IaaS and PaaS], and Cloud Application Provider [SaaS ISV]: According to IBM, these 2 models are very different and it's better to separate them than to mix them under a more generic "Cloud Service Provider" model.
  • Cloud Services Solution Provider: IBM has chosen this name to stress the "Solution" focus that Cloud Partners need to have. But this expression (a) may be confused with Cloud Service Provider (b) is too long [4 words is at least one too much!]. The Cloud Industry talks about "Cloud Broker", "Cloud [or SaaS] Integrator", "Cloud [Services] Reseller"] to designate companies who provide services and solutions around IaaS, PaaS or SaaS Public Cloud Services which they typically also resell/leverage.
  • Cloud Technology Provider: This is typically a technology focused ISV who provides technologies [that are of course hosted on IBM IaaS/PaaS platforms] to allow other Cloud actors to be more efficient. technologies
To get access to the IBM Cloud Specialty, Partners need to meet criterias that are adapted to each of the 5 business models.
For example, Cloud Builders will have to demonstrate that:
  • They have employees that have demonstrated expertise in both the IBM Cloud technologies and services [eg SmartCloud Foundation], but also in selling, consulting, and implementing private and hybrid Cloud projets [hence the need for Cloud specific certifications!]
  • Their level of partnership with IBM translates in cloud software and hardware revenue for IBM [eg Tivoli SmartCloud Provisioning or other automation/orchestration software, IBM PureSystems, storage, etc...]
  • A least of of their customers has successfully implemented a private cloud infrastructure with their help and is ready to testify.
These criterias are different from those required from an MSP, an ISV or a reseller.
Look for more details on the IBM Cloud Computing Specialty website.
 
Related benefits are also customized for each cloud business model:

Most of the IBM Cloud partners will:
  • create more leads and reduce sales cycles thanks to 25K$ annual marketing funds once they access the Cloud Specialty [ROI!]
  • get their expertise recognized by both the IBM teams and their prospects, customers and partners by leveraging the IBM Cloud Specialty Mark
Other benefits answer more specifically to the specific needs of, say, a Cloud Builder:
  • simplified access to IBM experts, including IBM Labs specialists.
  • specific sales and technical support for complex projects
  • early access to IBM cloud roadmaps and new cloud products and services...
[Q2] Do the Sales and Technical Certifications have a real value for your company and its employees?
Besides getting access to marketing, sales and technical benefits, a [Cloud] Partner Program should provide sales and technical certifications that will really:
  • grow your sales and technical staff relevant skills and knowledge.
  • give prospects, vendors and partners confidence in your ability to implement the right sales and implementation methods for the vendor's flagship [cloud] offerings.
By helping myself some IBM partners to prepare the IBM Cloud Computing Specialty, I had the opportunity to assess the relevance of the 2 IBM Cloud Certifications that are proposed [and required to get access to the Specialty]:
These certifications force future advisors, who are experts in selling, proposing, architecting and implementing private/hybrid Clouds to acquire the education and skills that are needed to master the key aspects of successful Cloud projects:
  • Cloud overall principles and concepts [IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, BPaaS - Private/Hybrid/Public Cloud - Key caracteristics of a Cloud Service, eg elasticity, pay per use, self service, etc...]
  • Reference Architectures [eg CCRA - Cloud Computing Reference Architecture]
  • Structure and components of the IBM Cloud Offerings [eg SmartCloud Foundation, SmartCloud Services, SmartCloud Solutions]
  • Methodologies to design, build, implement and run a Cloud solution, etc...

Cloud Certifications: Must or Gadget?
Since more than 5 years now, I follow the evolution of the Cloud Ecosystem. I believe that is is now the right time for you to accelerate the development of your Cloud skills and to choose your major technological and business Partners:
  • Cloud and related skills and certifications are clearly no [or no more] gadgets:
  • Cloud influences decisions for many projects that are not even seen as Cloud.
  • Most major vendors have now publicized their Cloud "coming out" and formalized their Cloud strategy and Cloud Partner Program
  • Several of your peers have already started their Cloud journey and you don't want to miss the boat or to be relegated in the followers pack.
  • You may still be among the first to leverage Cloud Certifications and to be recognized as a Cloud expert by your major Partners [eg IBM?]
IBM Partners, contact your IBM representative or you VAD to get access to the IBM Cloud Computing Specialty!

    Loic Simon
    Cloud Channel Development - IBM France
    www.clubcloud.blogspot.com
    loic_simon@fr.ibm.com 
    +33 6 76 75 40 71  

     

    26 juin 2012

    6plus6 - Summer Reading in eBook Format(s)

    Read below or click to download a selection of 6plus6 articles. 2012.06.26 - 6plus6 - PoV - Loic Simon

    17 juin 2012

    Paid Owned Earned Media: 6 plus 6 Reasons to Dismiss or Leverage Owned Blogs #POE

    Paid Owned Earned [POE] is the new craze among large companies whose communication, advertising and/or digital marketing are handled by big communication agencies.

    Both have now recognized the critical role played by Social Media.

    They want to start leveraging the "social" trend and follow those who practice inbound marketing, content marketing, social media marketing or any other flavor or 2.0 marketing.

    POE is typically what has come out of their efforts to come back in the game.

    This post is not about explaining POE as such.
    Neither is it intended to criticize the complexity of what I have seen so far [not much in fact].

    No, this post is about convincing my colleagues in Marketing, Communication, Partner Enablement and BizDev to leverage Owned Blogs as part of their POE projects.

    Marcom typically gives me 6 reasons for NOT wanting to leverage Owned Blogs as part of POE:
    1. Blogs are "personal" and not "corporate", so it's up to everybody to decide to blog, but NOT to us, "Marketing"!
    2. Blogs are time consuming. As Marketing staff is shrinking further, we can't allocate the time we would need for Blogs.
    3. Subject Matter Experts who can write posts are hard to mobilize, so content will be poor anyway.
    4. We better concentrate on corporate or agency content that can be posted as links on corporate webpages and promoted through twitter, facebook, linkedin or "earned" media.
    5. External bloggers have far more followers and crebility than owned Blogs. We just need to have them write nice posts about us to get traffic to our landing pages!
    6. Blogs are passé. Twitter and Facebook are way cooler!.
    To me, none of these objections really stand! Moreover, here are 6 reasons why Owned Blogs should definitely be leveraged for B2B, especially when deploying a POE project: 
    1. Blogs create Content, which is an important part of POE
    2. Content creates Opportunities for Sharing, which is what we do to engage through Twitter, LinkedIn...
    3. Shared Content creates Visibility & Credibility, which helps prospects find our offerings and establishes us as Thought Leaders
    4. Visible and Credible Content creates Opportunities for Contacts and for Inbound Qualified Leads, which is what we typically look for.
    5. Blogs & Events fit perfectly together and reinforce each other. Events create content for Blogs, Blogs create traffic for events.   
    6. Subject Matter Experts abound and most of them do have content available, as long as we aknowledge that content has multiple flavors: original PoV or course, but also recycled presentations [posted on Slideshare, of course], curated articles, news, agenda, etc...
    I can testify to the Power of Blogs in a B2B Environment [SaaS & Cloud Ecosystem]
    My own experience as Leader of Club Alliances and Club Cloud des Partenaires has shown me the power of incorporating Blogs at the heart of what we used to call a 2.0 Marketing Infrastructure.
    I embed a deck of slides and would be happy to share my experience with you!

    30 décembre 2011

    IBM Cloud Channel - My 6 plus 6 predictions for 2012 - Loic Simon - Club Cloud des Partenaires


    A few weeks ago, I revisited [in french] my "Cloud Tsunami" predictions for 2011 [read initial english version here].

    Now is a good time to think about next year and to deliver my 6 plus 6 predictions for IBM's [french] Cloud Channel in 2012.
    [you may also find this article in french in the Club Cloud des Partenaires' Blog]


    2011 has been the Cloud "Coming Out" year for most major IBM Infrastructure Partners.
    Pushed by vendors, customers and competition, most infrastructure integrators, distributors and managed service providers I'm dealing with have formalized their Cloud Strategy and/or have started executing it in 2011.

    2012 will still NOT be the year when...
    1. IBM and its partners won't need dedicated Cloud experts anymore, to (a) assist/replace their sales people and their arthictects and to (b) let those continue to conduct their more traditional business.
    2. Compensation plans will really push the sales teams to favor "as a service" Cloud solutions in their proposals.
    3. Managed Service Providers will massively turn into real "Cloud Infrastructure Providers".
    4. Cloud pure players will force all distributors, regional integrators and resellers to start migrating to a real Cloud business model.
    5. IBM Software will really push its partners to leverage its infrastructure software offerings in an as a service [PaaS, SaaS] mode, beyond promoting the ASL contract.
    6. IBM Global Technology Services' major route to market for Cloud services like SmartCloud Enterprise or SmartCloud Application Services will definitely be the Channel.
    On the other hand, in 2012,
    1. SaaS preeminence among ISVs will (a) help cloud resellers and integrators bloom and (b) push incumbent actors to include more and more SaaS solutions in their offerings portfolio.
    2. Major infrastructure integrators will "buy" the Cloud skills they lack to accelerate their business model migration towards Cloud...  while struggling to not cannibalize their existing activities.
    3. All distributors and VADs will provide (a) foundation products and services for Cloud Builders, (b) IaaS, PaaS and SaaS services for Cloud brokers, playing themselves a growing Cloud aggregator role. Beyond commodity services, some VADs will test the listing of SaaS business solutions, acting as a distribution platform for LOB oriented SaaS ISVs.
    4. All IBM new products and services will have a Cloud dimension [inside SmartCloud Foundation, SmartCloud Services or SmartCloud Solutions]. Servers and storage offerings will be redesigned and rebranded with "Cloud".
    5. The word "Cloud" will gradually replace "Virtualization", "Consolidation", "Hosting"... in the opportunities that are shared - through their common CRM - between IBM and its partners.
    6. IBM Software will deploy "SmartCloud Solutions" coming in majority from its recent acquisitions. These Social Business, Smarter Commerce, Smarter City, Business Analytics, Big Data... solutions help customers "reinvent business" by putting the cloud "under the hood" of key business applications. Luckily, most of them will be packaged to be leveraged by business integrators.
    So, what are YOUR predictions for the IBM Cloud Channel in 2012? 

    Loic Simon
    Business Development - Cloud Partners - IBM Global Business Partners
    www.clubcloud.blogspot.com
    loic_simon@fr.ibm.com 
    +33 6 76 75 40 71