Steven Dreher is Director of Solutions Architecture for Green House Data.
There are myriad strategies as a data center service provider, but when it comes to cloud services, it is becoming increasingly clear that if you aren’t a megascale provider, you need to transition your organization into a bunch of poodle walkers.
I don’t mean you should quit the industry and walk dogs for a living. Rather, you need to be what at least one Gartner analyst has referred to as a poodle walker: an organization that does everything they can for a customer (up-to-and-including walking the dog).
Complete managed services are the name of the game. Amazon knows it, too, which is why the company recently announced its own AWS management services. A mega-provider almost always struggles to offer the same customization and service levels as a midsize business, though, and that’s the piece of the industry you have to carve out for yourself.
Continue offering your own combination of hosted cloud, colocation, and as-a-service options. Partner with a variety of other vendors. Familiarize yourself with different platforms. Hire great talent and treat them well.
Your ideal customers are now those who know what they need to do, but aren't sure what kind of hardware, software, or services they might need to accomplish it. They want to get in the cloud, but they don’t have an implementation plan.
According to Gartner, more than 50 percent of surveyed CIOs do not have a cloud strategy. To truly add value as a service provider, you can’t wait for them to develop that strategy and then come to you with a specific VM count, licensing needs, and storage and bandwidth requirements. You have to show them that your expertise will help them find the right solution, and then perform the discovery yourself. Work with their IT department to develop the way to move forward. Provide multiple options. Take whatever ungroomed, shaggy, dirty poodle handed to you and show pictures of a few different fancy poodle haircuts. Then wash it, trim it, clip it, and walk that puppy.
There will always be companies — even large corporations — that have priorities outside IT solution architecture and support. If you can integrate with their current systems in a hybrid model while supporting a new initiative, migrate them seamlessly to a cloud platform, or just generally fill in any knowledge gaps on their team, you become an invaluable resource in addition to a vendor.
The culture you build must be customer-focused in everything. Rethink what it means to be a “managed service provider.” Your role is to keep the data center lights on. Keep applications up to date. Make sure everything just works. The customer’s IT department can then be focus on the user experience and meeting business objectives.
More and more analysts are highlighting the poodle-walking model as the way forward for service-driven IT infrastructure providers. If you don’t code the platform itself, you must be able to architect and support it on your own hardware, in other providers’ public clouds, and onsite at customer facilities. Design, build, maintain, and operate the infrastructure — that’s how you remain best-in-show.
Opinions expressed in the article above do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Data Center Knowledge and Penton.
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