Beware the Cloud Service Provider Shell Game

Jerry Caron
Jerry Caron

Summary Bullets:

  • Cloud services imply a new type of sales and support ecosystem that is still very complex and relatively unstable at the moment
  • This should not put buyers off, and should be welcomed—but all customary, cautionary warnings apply

The dynamics of cloud services have caused a fair bit of healthy upheaval in the way technology and software suppliers deliver and support their goods. In fact, that would be an understatement. Beyond the obvious difference between a network-based infrastructure or a software service versus goods sold or licensed for installation on-premise, there is a fundamental shift in the go-to-market plan for suppliers that takes the notion of so-called co-opetition to an entirely different level.

Infrastructure and software suppliers like IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Oracle and Cisco have to sell to, sell through and sell with a complex array of service providers, resellers, integrators and distributors—all of which have their own relationships with each other, and with competitive infrastructure and software suppliers. This, right now, is an inexact science, with experimentation underway that could yield unintended, unpleasant, mutant results, as well as nice, elegant customer-friendly service platforms in equal measure.

None of this is necessarily a bad thing. New models demand new thinking, and all of the parties named above are heavily incentivized to get this right. The details about who is white-labeling whom, and whose throat gets choked when stuff happens it is assumed will get sorted out in a way that becomes irrelevant to the customer.

Well, let’s hope so – there are many potential cloud-killers out there, most famously security concerns and reliability worries. But a fractured, fragmented, inconsistent, poisonous, unhealthy go-to-market and support ecosystem would likely be the most lethal of them all. So, the message to enterprise IT managers and executives is simply to know what you are buying and from whom, as it may not be so obvious from the exterior packaging and the salesperson’s hand you are shaking.

What do you think?

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