Rainbows and Unicorns Will Not Appear Until You Truly Believe
I read an excellent post from Mark Thiele this morning and It inspired a few thoughts I was going to tweet, and then I thought “why not make it a quick blog post even if it’s only a few short paragraphs”. I recommend that you read Mark’s full post first, but the premise is basically about a potential cloud backlash – many vendors are selling “cloud solutions”, but is the customer successfully utilizing these solutions to pursue increased Agility?
To give one example, I’m a big fan of converged infrastructure (FlexPod, Vblock, etc.) and using it to get to a cloudier place – lower OPEX and more Agility. But can we get there just by deploying one of these solutions, or does it require seeing a new vision of IT and pursuing that vision? Does it require rethinking our processes, our team composition and even our org charts? Does it require a shared vision and a cultural change within the organization? A product alone can never address these things.
As Mark points out, both the sales side and the customer side need to change – and understand and believe in the cloud vision – for things to improve here. So much of sales is driven by numbers, end of quarter deadlines and a gap-fit analysis of the biggest needs. The customer is out of space and/or end of life on their SAN, let’s sell them a new SAN. Or is there something more? What if the sales team was not just someone you called when you had a problem, but was a trusted strategic adviser operating at the CxO level to take a holistic view of the organization and make strategic decisions that improve OPEX and Agility consistent with business goals. Don’t just sell them a SAN. Take a step back and look into their disaster recovery process, their provisioning process, the virtualization stack (storage API integration and more), multi-tiering, flash solutions, operations and the whole nine yards. Look at the synergy of the entire infrastructure stack working together. Educate on the vision and how IT processes can be retooled for better OPEX and Agility. Don’t just “sell a SAN”. By taking this approach the sales team will not only likely have the opportunity to sell more, but they will become a trusted adviser with the client and will have created far more value for the client than a one-off band-aid solution.
But in order to get here you have to have a vision for what can be done with cloud computing (one that can be reconciled with reality) and you have to believe in it to the point that you can both evangelize and execute on it. The same goes for the IT customer. The more all the players and stakeholders in the organization can envision the OPEX and Agility benefits of moving towards the proverbial cloud, the easier it will be for the organization to get there and fully exploit it. I’ve seen many organizations implement various virtualization, SAN, monitoring and automation solutions and often times use only a small fraction of the capability – never fully realizing the full OPEX and Agility benefits that could be available with the right vision and execution of that vision.
Cloud computing is a new way of doing IT, but it requires new thinking – both by sales teams and those that would consume those solutions. When both sides can get to a shared vision of cloud computing and commit to executing on it, things can get very fun and rewarding. But to get to that shared vision will require some discovery, education and evangelization of exactly how cloud solutions can reduce OPEX and promote both operational and business agility.