I attended the CloudConnect conference in Chicago this week, and perhaps the most interesting takeaway is the extent of the disconnect between the vendors and service providers in the Cloud space and their customers. Disconnects between vendors and customers are nothing new, of course; customers have problems and vendors have products, and try as the vendors might to shoehorn them into solutions to those problems, they often fit as well as Cinderella’s stepsisters’ feet.
The Cloud has also challenged vendors in particular from day one, because the whole idea of the Cloud is that you don’t have to buy hardware or software any more. In the Cloud you pay as you go only for how much you need. The end result is that customers pay much less than before, right?
Not so fast. Even though the Cloud does offer cost savings wins in many situations, there is an even more important benefit that trumps cost savings: namely, business agility. And for once, it’s not the IT buyer who’s driving Cloud adoption, it’s the lines of business.
There’s still plenty of confusion out there, but savvy business managers are understanding the strategic benefits of Cloud Computing in greater numbers. They’re looking to the Cloud to streamline app dev processes, to facilitate innovation, and to respond to shifting customer demands in a more nimble way. Yes, cost savings are often a subtext, but these use cases are all about business agility.
Software and hardware vendors — as well as IaaS providers — are in large part missing the boat. They’re still focusing on cost savings as the primary driver for Cloud adoption, and they’re targeting the IT buyer. Not only are they playing with the wrong ball, they’re in the wrong field.
For many such vendors and IaaS providers this disconnect presents a substantial challenge, as their sales organizations have never targeted the business buyer. They don’t understand how to position themselves within the broader agility driver for the Cloud. They’d better get with the program quickly or they’ll soon join the list of failed companies that fall on the side of the road to Cloud maturity.