Apparently, when the internet started to take off, technicians found the easiest shorthand for the complexity of that "network of networks" was to draw a fuzzy cloud shape to represent all the bits in the middle.
There is still confusion on the best way forward vis à vis cloud, given the grandiose supplier claims about reducing capex, streamlining opex and so on.
There is nothing radically new about cloud – it is fundamentally about using internet technology to reduce in-house IT management. This can range from familiar managed or hosted services all the way to full outsourcing.
Your customers are handing over the IT to you, and will manage systems critical to the functioning of their businesses. Define your role, as well as theirs.
If the customer is not convinced that you can deliver a secure and reliable environment to support his or her business's IT requirements, as well as the right technology, they may not be prepared to make that purchase.
The word 'partner' has been rather overused in the computing market. However, the idea is actually extremely important; the technology supplier acts in the client's interests by providing integrated resources and services based on an in-depth understanding of the specifics of the customer business.
But cloud has simply seen too many contenders offer the opposite – inflexible, standard offerings that fail to deliver.
Many conversations may follow the line of 'of course cloud is the answer; what was the question again?'
A cloud services provider, on the other hand, should consult with the customer and take time to understand his or her objectives, then develop the right offering, using cloud only if it is appropriate.
Cloud is useful only if it is seen as just another tool in the box. A partner must also be honest enough to curb cloud enthusiasm if it is not what the customer needs right now.
Suppliers must accept that cloud has promise but also measure the customer for a suit that fits, not simply sell off the peg.
Paul Cook is head of sales and marketing at Oncore IT
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