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...].
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...
... 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
+33 6 76 75 40 71