It’s undeniable that the past year has only sped the shift to flexible consumption models – or as-a-Service – in technology. Faced with IT departments that are stretched thin, pushed-back projects, employee burnout, and additional challenges, organizations are increasingly turning to an as-a-Service model as a solution. In fact, IDC predicts that by 2024, over 75% of infrastructure in edge locations will be consumed/operated via an as-a-Service model, as will more than half of data center infrastructure.
Adopting an as-a-Service model creates a stronger partnership between the organization and the cloud provider. While this may sound as if a company is giving the vendor more control, the reality is, it’s changing the traditional vendor/customer relationship to one that requires a new level of trust. The company is trusting the cloud provider to help manage their ecosystem, infrastructure, services, workloads and applications more than they did previously.
Understandably, trust is earned, and cloud providers must prove that they can put the customer first and be even more protective of customers’ infrastructure management, so finding the right business relationship is key.
Trust must be explicit
Trust is often assumed in any business engagement. However, as more businesses move to an as-a-Service model, building trust is critical because there is no wiggle room for mission-critical applications and workloads in the cloud to not work efficiently.
To build a mutually beneficial partnership, companies need to broaden the very paradigm of trust, beyond security and privacy. Customer trust should also include these core attributes – compliancy, resiliency and transparency. Let’s break those down:
Compliancy – Organizations have enough to focus on without needing to worry that the products and software they build upon are compliant with key standards and policies. Part of allowing a vendor to manage their infrastructure means trusting when there’s a compliance update, it will be met in a timely and accurate manner. If not, the organization has a lot to lose – monetarily and legally.
Resiliency – As made clear by the past year, disruptions are inevitable. For example, natural disasters cause equipment failures, cyber attacks cause chaos, and human error is almost unavoidable. But when these things happen, customers need assurance their infrastructure is resilient enough not to cause long-term business effects.
Transparency – It’s twofold: not only should customers have transparent pricing information at their disposal to make the right choice for their business, they also need to be “in the loop” on how their infrastructure is performing, updating and always running.
A decade or so ago, public clouds went through the same evolution. There was little trust in such a new technology and businesses were hesitant to put precious data in the cloud, but thanks to stronger security measures put forth by both the vendor and end user, apprehension towards moving to the cloud was alleviated. It’s still a work in progress, but cloud computing has reshaped enterprise IT and user confidence is only going up.
Key components of trust
For a healthy as-a-Service model, technology providers need to evolve by engineering trust into all their offerings and entire ecosystems.
Let’s consider what exactly customers have the right to expect.
Trust at the product level. Customers need confidence that the product offered by the managed service provider is secure and resilient. For example, if there is an outage, what is the recovery window and how will their data be impacted? This begins with a secure development lifecycle, a secure supply chain and follows through to everywhere data and applications go.
Data security. Customers need assurance their personal data is protected in the event of a cyberattack – this requires transparent access policies, accurate and comprehensive data logs, and secure storage.
Customer support. Giving customers the assurance that vendors have their best interest at heart. It’s also taking care of any hiccups on the backend so customers can continue doing business.
With the increasing adoption of as-a-Service consumption and multi-cloud environments, building trust in the ecosystem is ever more important. Customers must trust in the companies that are running their infrastructure and the infrastructure that is powering their business. The right trust foundation, including the core attributes mentioned above, is an ultimate determinant of successful business outcomes. With the right partner, customers can seamlessly run not only mission-critical workloads, but achieve operational excellence, simplify life for the IT team and discover new budget for high-value work. It’s all about partnering with their customer to win confidence and working tirelessly to demonstrate trustworthiness.
Deepak Patil is SVP of APEX Engineering at Dell Technologies