It's just a new IT Delivery Model, stooopid.
I was at a Verizon event not so long ago – the company was marking the official opening of a brand new cloud services datacentre for its recent acquisition, Terremark. During a short panel discussion/Q&A session a Verizon exec, Christopher Kimm, made a small observation that is, I feel, of some importance, particularly as he is the company’s VP of Network Field Operations for EMEA and Asia-Pac territories.
“Companies selling technology to business will be in trouble. Selling what the technology does in business value terms is now what is important. And a growing number of users now don’t buy applications as individual pieces. That is now the most expensive option because of the integration costs. The smart ones let other people do that.”
This seems important to me, and not just because it was said by an avowed technologist. To me it sums up exactly the disconnect that is starting to grow between the technology vendors – and especially the large and established ones dedicated to the many mantras of technology – and what users are increasingly now seeking……service.
As the Group President of Terremark Worldwide, Kerry Bailey, observed, the word cloud has become a meaningless marketing term that in practice no longer says anything of any value. He now refers to the new IT delivery model’(no doubt with the option that the word new’ gets dropped in fairly short order).
What is delivered, of course, is a service, and what constitutes that service is entirely at the discretion of the users, and is geared entirely to the needs of their business and how they perceive those needs should be met. Looked at from that end of the telescope, the technology is decidedly secondary.
The new IT delivery model therefore decouples delivered services from the technology stacks on which they run. Yes, the technology is still necessary, but these days a service can be constructed from several different applications and tools, it may well run on different technology stacks, so technology mix and match’ is now the order of the day. Technology in its own right is no longer the God of Gods.
The trouble is, however, that many of the established technology players, particularly in the software sector, seem unable to cope with being the new bit-part players the cloud now makes them, rather than centre stage idols. It has become a little pastime of mine to track their collective attitude to the cloud, an attitude always driven by their collective fear of losing their hold on customers.
They started by saying that while the cloud was OK for novelties’ like Google searching, it was of no value to real business (and the customers should stick with us). Next it was acceptance that the cloud was not going away and had a role to play in business, but adding the huge caveat that it was all fearsomely complicated for businesses to understand, so it would be best if they let the technology companies handle it for them (and keep giving them the money).
Things have got a bit more complicated now, because the new IT delivery model is starting to gain real traction, even amongst the not-very-early-at-all adopters. It is even starting to sub-divide as marketing suits try different ways of selling the concepts behind it.
There are, for example, private and public clouds, which for most users are actually just different management strategies applied to the same infrastructure. Then along comes the hybrid cloud.
Now, I notice, a growing number of the established IT vendors are starting to promote hybrid cloud’ as an identifiable, differentiated product category. So, is it?
The short answer is no, it is just an alternative management approach for using the same infrastructure. By and large they are trying the same old marketing model of trying to sell hot air based on the importance of the technology. The hybrid cloud is just an operational concept – building a service, or range of services where some elements are considered better delivered via a private cloud’ service while other elements are run on – or sourced from – one or more public services that are available to all.
And just to confuse things, the private services can be running on anything from a public cloud service provider such as Google, Amazon or Microsoft, through to an on-premise legacy application that has been adapted to integrate with a cloud environment.
So, while some of the traditional vendors are now seeking to persuade users that it is sensible to ask for 4-tons of hybrid cloud, please’ it does not exist as a definable, measureable, packaged entity. One day, one hopes, the traditional vendors will get their collective heads round what the new IT delivery model is actually all about. Whether they can cope with the fact that it is not about technology is, of course, as yet unanswered.