Cloud Services

SMBs Still a Bit Clueless on Cloud

If cloud services are a game, we're still in the first inning, says one entrepreneur who is taking cloud services to small and mid-sized businesses in the New York area.

Brad Bono, president of Princeton Hosted Solutions, is targeting specific customer segments within that sector, namely healthcare, legal and automotive companies, and has found most of his customers have little real understanding of what the cloud is or what it can offer.

"They are seeing the commercials on TV, they are scratching their head -- everyone is hearing cloud, but it means something different to each person," says Bono, whose company announced Thursday that it will resell Verizon Terremark cloud services through an agreement with Verizon Global Wholesale, a unit of Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ).

A recent survey commissioned by Citrix Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CTXS) revealed that the general public is even less clear on cloud services -- a disturbing number think real clouds are involved, and that stormy weather can disrupt cloud-based data services.

The SMBs Princeton is targeting often still operate their own servers entirely on-premises -- "they've turned a coat closet into their 'data center,'" Bono says -- and are just bumping up against the limits of what they can do for themselves in providing security, reliability and availability on tight IT budgets. They are realizing the vulnerability of their IT operations, which might be run by a single individual or an outside consultant.

Part of Princeton's sales pitch is to personalize the way cloud services are delivered, because the needs of the SMBs tend to be specific and to vary widely. Surgeons' offices with highly sophisticated medical applications and tight demands on security and availability need a different kind of care from auto dealerships or municipal governments, Bono says. Verizon Global Wholesale will be providing training for the Princeton team to enable that degree of personalization, says Quintin Lew, vice president of marketing.

Bono says he looked at a lot of different options for reselling -- "I saw way too many data centers," he jokes -- and chose Terremark for a superior physical infrastructure and what he sees as leadership in cloud service offerings overall.

Princeton is the kind of customer Verizon Global Wholesale is increasingly seeking out, says Lew, expanding Terremark's original base of larger carrier customers to include smaller and newer players.

Terremark will be front and center next month at our Carrier Cloud Forum event, Oct. 3 in New York City, as Chris Drumgoole, senior VP of Client Services, delivers a keynote address.

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

zzcn280 12/5/2012 | 5:21:47 PM
re: SMBs Still a Bit Clueless on Cloud

I suspect the title is misleading.

shygye75 12/5/2012 | 5:21:47 PM
re: SMBs Still a Bit Clueless on Cloud

I don't think SMBs are the only ones who are still a bit clueless on cloud. It's a vague term that's used in a wide array of confusing contexts. Maybe purposefully so.

cnwedit 12/5/2012 | 5:21:46 PM
re: SMBs Still a Bit Clueless on Cloud

Because their customer said nice things about them?

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:21:44 PM
re: SMBs Still a Bit Clueless on Cloud

Separately, I thought I would comment on the "rack in a closet" part of things.  In fact, I run a couple of racks of gear in a closet and we built in power backup and got a TI for better cooling in the space.  Not everything is like that but here is what I can tell you....it is a LOT cheaper than putting stuff in our data centers for non-mission critical items.  And for our application (mail filtering/mail hosting/secure mail/mail archiving/mail continuity) it is a LOT cheaper for us to have the equipment in our data centers than it is in EC2/S3 (about 1/3rd the cost).  And we use Equinix so it is not like we have el cheapo data centers.  

The reason for the last is that our application does not allow effectively for the turn down of resources easily.  That means that we would be renting Very Large Instances permanently (basically) to 1 for 1 replace our servers.  Our biggest 2U servers go for about $4K from Dell.  Go take a look at how long that gets you a Very Large Instance on EC2.  Their pricing is online so go compare for yourself.  The dowsides are that:  I own the maintenance/depreciation/upgrade costs, I have to outlay up front capital, Scaling for me is not linear and takes a couple of weeks so I have to predict it by monitoring load (and have Sales tell me if they landed any big fish).


paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:21:44 PM
re: SMBs Still a Bit Clueless on Cloud

Well, even here we talk about a bunch of different things as "The Cloud".  From what I have seen talked about as Cloud HERE are:

- Data Centers

- SaaS offerings

- Other xaaS offerings

- EC2/S3 and the like

- Mobile apps that use carrer APIs

The original meaning of cloud, I thought, had a lot to do with virtualized network based computing.  Now as far as I can tell it means any compute resource inside the network including a website.  I would stop selling "Cloud" and start selling business cases for specific capabilities.



shygye75 12/5/2012 | 5:21:41 PM
re: SMBs Still a Bit Clueless on Cloud

We (i.e., Heavy Reading) are now adding "mobile cloud" to the mix, just to make things a little more interesting. It's challenging enough when the industry needs to enlighten end-users about new technologies and services. The challenge becomes hugely difficult when the industry itself is confused. I agree that it's time to get our collective head out of the cloud and start communicating in clearer and less nebulous terms. I just hope it won't take four more years to get there.

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