Cloud Customers Get More Demanding
Enterprises looking to buy cloud services are better informed and more demanding than in the past, and service providers had better be prepared to offer more in the way of specific assistance, according to the CTO of one large cloud provider.
Bryan Doerr, CTO of Savvis (Nasdaq: SVVS), now part of CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL), says it's a trend he believes will play to the strength of more experienced cloud service providers.
"As opposed to 2010, when people were saying 'Show us your cloud,' now our conversations start with 'Here are some areas we are probing in your cloud solutions, tell us more about that,' or 'Here's our applications portfolio, let's discuss [it] in more detail,'" Doerr says.
Details are important, because enterprises are discovering that not every application fits into a cloud configuration, and they need to efficiently discover what will work. The inability to meet specific application needs can put an entire cloud strategy at risk, Doerr maintains.
It can lead to "resistance within the ranks," for instance. The focus can shift to what doesn't work in the cloud. "Because some application requirements can't be satisfied, it is easy for a whole bunch of things about cloud adoption to go sideways," he says.
That deeper assessment goes beyond application-by-application decisions of what fits in the cloud, Doerr says, to determining what part of the delivery infrastructure for an app belongs in the cloud/multi-tenant environment versus what belongs in "a dedicated managed server clustered with another database server so we get local high availability and high performance."
Savvis's experience in this realm dates back to 2004, when it launched multi-tenant data center services, such as compute and storage. Doerr doesn't call these offerings "cloud," but he says they taught Savvis a lot about delivering on-demand cloud services.
For example, Savvis learned to cultivate a broad portfolio of services, because there are different customer personalities -- from those who want to outsource everything to trusted partners, to those who "kick the tires" when it comes to cloud but want to maintain more control over a service.
Linking with CenturyLink
Now, Savvis is starting to combine its cloud and managed services offerings with CenturyLink's network services, Doerr says. He admits there is complexity there that has not yet been solved.
"I'm not yet plugged into how on-demand characteristics [of cloud services] are being introduced into CenturyLink data services," Doerr says. It is a relatively simple matter for Internet-facing cloud apps but more complex for those that involve, say, private MPLS circuits. Those services will continue to require a physical connection that can't be turned up and turned down for an on-demand cloud service.
But there will be the ability to deliver different levels of QoS and other characteristics that could potentially be done on-demand, he says.
Doerr expects the cloud market to stay intensely competitive, as traditional cloud players, such as Amazon Web Services Inc. and Rackspace , add functionality, and the large telcos that have purchased cloud companies take advantage of their existing business relationships with enterprises.
Economics and mobility will continue to be cloud service drivers, as companies of all sizes look to control IT costs and to deliver content to more mobile devices in a format those devices can handle, but Doerr believes more companies are looking beyond the bottom line to greater productivity and an expanded role for IT. Rather than limiting new applications to those deemed worthy of a major commitment of IT resources, businesses can now test something on a cloud-based infrastructure with relatively little up-front investment
"Just evaluating success in the cloud on economics is a mistake," he says. "This represents a way to make IT assets more responsive, which will enable you to introduce new applications more quickly and make them more available."
— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading