Jim Brull

 

Recent studies suggest that 83% of enterprise workloads will be on the cloud by 2020, which means that cloud adoption is undeniably on the rise. This shift isn’t surprising considering the wide range of cloud solutions now available, including SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS options that can drastically reduce CapEx investments and increase operational agility for modern businesses. 

With statistics like that, there’s a high probability that your business is also considering the cloud… but since you understand that cloud is a long-term solution, you aren’t sure how to choose the right provider that can support your organization for the long haul.

In this in-depth, three-part series, you’ll get all the information you need to plan your cloud future. You’ll learn about the evolution of business-centric cloud apps and services over time (today’s article), you’ll get tips and advice about how to find a provider that can meet your long-term needs (part 2 of the series), and you’ll get a handy checklist of 10 items to look for to ensure you choose the right cloud provider for your company (part 3).

Ready? Let’s dive in.

First Off: What Is the Cloud?

“Way” back in 2013, I remember talking to a group of business leaders about the cloud. They weren’t sure exactly what the term meant, and they all had their own definition they’d stumbled across. One person thought it meant shared server space, another thought it meant off-site storage, and another wasn’t sure what the cloud was but knew it had something to do with his cell phone.

We’ve come a long way since then.

These days, most people have a basic understanding of the cloud as a cost-saving, highly flexible IT solution that provides secure and scalable server space (IaaS), global tech development platforms (PaaS), or world-class software (SaaS) that business users subscribe to by paying a low monthly or annual fee.

In essence, the basic idea of the cloud is that it provides organizations of any size with cutting-edge business technology at a low cost because companies only need to pay for what they use.

What a difference from years past, in which companies had to purchase costly hardware that they hoped would support their future storage needs, pay a large IT staff to manage and secure those servers, and make constant software investments that limited staff access to available user licenses and required annual upgrades.

Considering the benefits, it’s no wonder that business leaders are aggressively making the switch to cloud right now.

The Transformation of the Cloud

However, cloud wasn’t always as flexible as it is now.

In the past, cloud products were delivered and supported like legacy solutions. VARs (value-added resellers) would sell cloud products and related third-party software to their clients, and MSPs (managed service providers) would support and secure cloud solutions by acting as outsourced IT maintenance companies.

Because there were few cloud products on the market, VAR consulting firms only had the option to offer one or two cloud options, each featuring a small handful of fairly bland differentiators, and MSPs performed a rather predictable blend of administrative IT tasks for their clients. Timelines were slow and cloud storage was surprisingly expensive. Only the largest companies were interested in making the switch.

And then everything suddenly changed.

Beginning with the shift to intelligent big data analytics, businesses finally had the power to analyze customer behavior in real time… and big data showed that customer trends were changing faster than they’d ever thought possible. As it turned out, customers had been providing in-depth information to businesses about their interests and needs for years, but the datasets they created were so massive that no humans or computers had been able to fully understand the data before.

At that point, companies that had already invested in large amounts of server space had the opportunity to analyze lots of data using the new analytics technologies, and they started to pull ahead of their competitors. Businesses that wanted to remain competitive needed to invest in their own storage space quickly – and the fastest way to get more storage space was to buy it on the cloud.

Fortunately, that was right around the time that cloud costs started falling, so businesses and consumers had the freedom to purchase the large amounts of virtual (cloud) storage they needed at relatively low prices.  

Our modern access to and analysis of detailed consumer data has created the lightning-fast-paced landscape we’re all navigating today; companies that want to stay ahead of their peers must stay agile and pivot quickly, so they can meet changing demands in innovative, disruptive ways.  

To meet this trend head-on, companies like yours have evolved and transformed rapidly, and your business software has changed along with you.

Unfortunately, many business software providers and maintenance professionals have not changed much, which is a serious problem.

The “Dinosaur” Methods of VARs and MSPs

As we all know, today’s customers want fast service around the clock, convenient apps they can access on the go, and, well, who knows what else? Their interests seemingly change every single day!

To stay ahead of consumer demand, your company has to think ahead. You have to spend time and effort analyzing the big data you’ve collected, and you have to be ready to think outside the box to create new, innovative solutions for emerging customer problems.

The problem is that although your technology is fast and powerful, your service providers aren’t fast and powerful. When you consider how long it takes for your VAR to implement a new product or how long it takes for your MSP to approve a new IT option, it’s rather a wonder that anything gets done at all. Clearly, you need a faster solution, but you’re not sure where to turn.

Honestly however, you shouldn’t have to deal with any of this: Isn’t it your tech provider’s job to keep up with the latest tech solutions and let you know about the ones that make sense for your company?

Today’s cloud solutions are incredibly easy to try out. With their free trials and nearly plug-and-play integration capabilities, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be continually optimizing your business with newer, better solutions. There’s a wide range of integration options available on the Oracle Cloud Marketplace, but even if you can’t find anything that fits your needs like a glove, today’s cloud-based development tools (PaaS) empower you to create your own internal software or client-centric intellectual property in mere weeks, instead of months or years.

Haven’t heard about all your options? Been a while since you optimized your systems? There’s a reason for that.

Adaptation Is Key

If you’ve been wondering why your consulting firm or managed service provider haven’t been advising you on the latest business tech solutions that could support your growth and objectives, you should know that:

  • Most of today’s VARs and MSPs struggle to find skilled, knowledgeable talent across the wide variety of tech solutions in the modern landscape, especially because providers are required to hire their new talent while retaining their legacy talent. This can be costly. 
  • To stay up to date, VARs and MSPs must focus on continuous improvement by challenging themselves with varied project types and certifying across additional specializations. This takes time.
  • Today’s vertical-specific niche tech tools require VARs and MSPs to have deep knowledge and understanding of the tech they sell as well as the evolving needs of the industries they serve. This takes commitment.  

In a way, it’s ironic that you must leverage the latest tech solutions in order to stay agile and deliver on your clients’ expectations… yet your tech providers, the ones in charge of your ability to remain agile, don’t have to stay agile themselves.

You deserve better.

Is Your Consulting Firm or Managed Service Provider a Dinosaur?

If you feel like you’re missing out on critical tech leadership, you may be dealing with a dinosaur VAR or MSP. If so, it’s time to move onward and upward.

You need a partner with a large number of skilled employees who have in-depth knowledge about all your options, not just some. You need a partner who deeply understands your industry’s challenges and opportunities and can help you meet them head-on. You need a partner who proactively steers you toward the latest solutions and services that make the most sense for your unique goals.

You need a leader: an innovative, integrated consultant, implementer, and support provider with unmatched in-depth knowledge about your industry, your options, and all the possibilities that lay ahead.

It’s time for an evolution.

 

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