At the end of each of our webinars, we hold a Q&A session where the audience can ask questions that arose from the webinar content. This blog series highlights some of those questions to expose them to a wider audience.
This week the questions come from the webinar, Critical Success Factors in Delivering Cloud and Related Services, where Monty Blight, EVP of Corporate Development at Embotics shared lessons learned while helping a national IT infrastructure provider grow its cloud business, and the different factors to consider for your own organization such as simple automation, customer self-service, and hybrid/public cloud.
Q1: What was the biggest lesson learned while you were trying to get the infrastructure company off the ground and move it forward in terms growth.
Monty: It's really difficult to do but it goes back to ‘getting everybody in the boat with you.’ I know particularly early in product strategy, we would engage a lot of people, ask a lot of questions, but then go off and develop that product, communicate along the way. It wasn't a willful act but I needed to communicate that better, and I needed for people to be updated as a part of the team.
In later iterations, a project management strategy was really valuable. You could have people engaged in the project, commit to what they were going to do is part of the project, get some loyalty into it. If you had to make difficult decisions, you made them earlier rather than later. More eyes, more people in the boat, whatever other expression you want to use.
Clearly the more people in the boat, the better and you've heard it a hundred times, but over-communicate. Have more meetings, more communication, more opportunity, include more people than you think need to be involved and then clearly at some point, you need to execute. Small execution team, large boat, that sums it up.
Q2: What is the biggest competitive threat to private clouds at the moment?
Monty: A hosted private cloud can sometimes mean multiple things, but when I think of hosted private cloud, I think of a service provider delivering a dedicated solution on hardware that they own. Now there's certain multi-tenancy to it, but infrastructure dedicated to a client as opposed to on a shared platform. I think there's always going to be a place for that.
But what I see is more and more is that people are natively writing applications to the public cloud, that’s one area. I also think you're seeing more and more people looking to a hosted solution, a SaaS model, and you are also seeing more and more people that are looking for that overused term, that 'hybrid' expression. If people are less concerned about security and all that they like about the private cloud, they are going to multiple different options. Obviously my solution to that is to control that customer.
Rather than stay in that private cloud solution, make sure that if they want to go to public cloud, if they want to go to a shared solution in your environment, you could provide that multi-tenant IaaS. Or if they want to go to the public cloud, that you're the one taking them there. And obviously that's why we believe so strongly in vCommander in the multi-platform capabilities through a self-service or SP managed dashboard.
Q3: How can we make sure that we're betting on the right technology?
Monty: You're not going to ever be sure that you're betting on the right technology and I think that's why we call it a bet. If we're playing it too safe, then we’re being reactive and responsive and we're not going to make any mistake but we're likely going to be left behind. When I say you bet on the right technology, that's also to bet on the right strategy or bet on the right product.
What I will say is, if there's an opportunity to hedge your bets in a way of providing solutions that all aren't all or nothing thats what you should be doing. From a vCommander perspective from Embotics, we provide a solution that works with AWS, Azure, Hyper-V, VMware, and supports your existing private cloud infrastructure.
When you select a tool or when you select a technology, you want it to be able to easily integrate into what you have but then also, you need to be able to remove it without it completely disrupting your service delivery model. You will have wasted the money and you will have wasted some time, and you will have wasted some resources, but it's not something that you can't pull back from.
Q4: Where do you see cloud brokers fitting into this whole world?
Monty: My personal perspective is that everything that we've talked about here from strategy alignment and the better infrastructure, is really talking about making sure that you're delivering value. Cloud brokerage is a general term to talk about integrating multiple platforms into one solution or making them available. I think that as a service provider, you always want to be in the scenario where you are recommending, you are managing, and you are integrating. You are not just handing off a commodity.
From a cloud brokerage perspective, I like the concept of having multiple platforms available to your customers and helping put them in the right solution as a service provider. I don't like the idea of just enabling every public cloud out there and carving a couple of cents off the transaction.
Q5: Is there a favorite metric to gain continuous improvement?
Monty: One of the things that I like to look at from a metric standpoint as a service provider, is whether contracted or not, is your monthly recurring revenue and your growth per customer within that revenue base? Continuous improvement, I know is probably talking more perhaps on the operation side, but as a service provider from the business perspective, I like to look at monthly recurring revenue per client because it shows that you're providing either new products or existing products that are allowing that customer to grow organically.
Then from a operation standpoint, we talked about those service level objectives. I know a lot of operations and technicians, and engineers roll their eyes a little bit at the SLAs because they feel like that they’re marketing number. What is your service level objective per product? If it's disaster recovery as a service product, what is your recovery time objective? Then do you exceed on that recovery time objective?
Then what are those similar scenarios within the cloud environment? If it's provisioning time, is it you're less than five minutes to provision a cloud server. And finally, I like looking at those performance metrics that are drawn from service level objectives that customers and the company has agreed to.
You can watch the complete webinar with Monty by clicking the link below.