I'd like to send out a warning to the channel. Mis-selling cloud services to businesses they don't suit will come back to haunt you.
Just because the cloud is new and sexy doesn't mean it is the answer to any specific customer's issues, and a blend of dedicated and managed servers could still be the best option.
You might have read that and assumed I'm just an outdated server-hugger shamelessly selling our own services – but I should point out that selling cloud is also now a big part of what we do.
I'm not blind to the benefits of working within a cloud computing environment; cloud hosting in particular can provide all the advantages of a physical setup but without the infrastructure headaches and internal problems that can go with in-house management.
However, it is not the answer to every business's problems, as more opportunistic resellers might have us believe.
Each company has its specific needs and existing infrastructure. Meanwhile, what most want from a partner is to be able to trust them. They want partners who can be honest about whether cloud is for them, and how it should be built into the IT network or improve the performance of existing infrastructure.
Alongside, there must be a full understanding of compliance, security and reliability.
Sadly, many businesses are missing out on this service as resellers rush to position themselves and the cloud as the answer to their prayers.
Some of my customers tell me the real reason that they haven't adopted cloud is that it was difficult to find a partner that offered more than a standard package. IT managers value the relationships they have with their suppliers or partners and the thing that seems to be lacking is a cutting edge and tailor-made customer service experience.
They want to work with people who can understand and add value to their business rather than provide them with extra equipment or services they don't need.
Large businesses with their own IT departments can make the most of cloud or on-demand IT services and applications, as they will have the technical know-how to manage the technology. However, some smaller businesses have plenty of knowledge and others very little.
So cloud could end up being a waste of time and money. For example, the licensing costs of virtualisation might counter the benefits of cloud – to the point where physical infrastructure becomes more cost effective.
A lot of customers don't realise until too late that they are going to get an invoice for a new software licence as part of their cloud "solution".
One idea business decision makers get in their heads is that cloud will enable them to replace their IT manager, or even the entire IT department, if the business is big enough.
But cloud technology will only work alongside skilled IT staff. There are some things the cloud will never be able to automate. Admittedly, it is the IT manager's job to communicate that to his or her boss.
Meanwhile, a blended environment may allow burstability while lowering the I/O output on a virtual system. One example from our experience was an online games vendor, which was launching a service that needed 250 physical servers racked, stacked and ready to go in 24 hours.
This requirement would be extremely difficult to fulfil for providers too heavily focused on the cloud.
Because of all this I am seeing a reverse trend in some quarters. Customers who have been mis-sold cloud-based offerings are moving back to physical systems.
Dominic Monkhouse is EMEA managing director and senior vice president of customer experience at Peer 1 Hosting
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