Big doesn’t always mean better or more choices. And, small doesn’t always mean narrow or incomplete. Each has its pros and cons, often with tradeoffs between quality, cost and service. It can be a frustrating balancing act for business consumers.
This is the conundrum many consumers face when choosing cloud service providers (CSPs). Bounded by budgets, people skills and legacy technology on the one hand, and challenged to drive revenue growth, competitive advantage and unfamiliar “digital business” initiatives on the other hand, IT organizations can find themselves between a rock and a hard place.
There is no “ideal” model for all situations, for all business challenges. If there was an ideal CSP, it would probably look something like a company with extensive and modern resources on a national or international scale, but with the storefront accessibility and direct interaction of a local boutique shop.
Does that describe any company you know of? If it did, here are some of the benefits you could expect to receive if you were their customer.
Historically, reducing costs was a major reason for using cloud services. Reasons today are leaning more toward the strategic and business-driven versus the tactical IT, and the focus is on long-term investment versus near-term cost. Still, avoiding spending, saving money and leveraging someone else’s resources is never a bad idea. Here are some examples:
- Multi-tenancy amortizes infrastructure and systems costs across a large customer base, enabling economies of scale not possible in most corporate data centers.
- Management and maintenance tasks are handled for the customer.
- Data centers have multi-layered physical security and 24/7 staffing by professionals.
- Rapid resource provisioning for fast time-to-market can save months and money over internal provisioning.
- Critical systems redundancy throughout and across data centers is key to business continuity.
- Leverage over technology partners and suppliers due to large deployments means that issues get resolved quickly.
An IT services consumer should expect that the compute and infrastructure technologies employed by their provider are better and more current than their own, and are regularly refreshed. They should also expect that the provider can make available technologies that the consumer could not justify on its own due to cost, conflicting service demands, limited applicability, inadequate staffing, etc.
Clearly, not all providers do this. Some have offerings that are one-size-fits-all and inflexible. They’re secretive about the technologies they use. Assuming that is not the case, here are some advantages you should expect:
- A wide range of technologically current systems that serves the diverse and unique needs of individual customers, and opens new possibilities for all customers.
- Standardized technology platforms that enhance reliability, availability and performance.
- A provider that constantly assesses emerging technologies, developing trends and potential new services that its customers may want in the future, from networking to telecom, computing to storage, security to compliance.
- Close alliances between technology partners and the CSP that gives it advance knowledge about upcoming product improvements and technology roadmaps so it is prepared to integrate them into infrastructure planning and rapid deployment.
The availability and the nature of resources tell a great deal about a CSP and its approach to serving customers. Does it have specialists you can call upon for advice, or help in the middle of the night to correct an unexpected problem? Many large providers expect customers to provision their own resources, make their own decisions and anticipate their own needs with no guidance, which is just fine with some customers. Others, not so much.
Here are some benefits that may or may not be part of a large service provider’s repertoire:
- Geo-diversity of data centers, which can contribute to network resilience, performance and security, as well as more effective disaster recovery.
- A dynamic knowledge base that capture experiences, expertise and best practices from across its ecosystem to the benefit of individual customers at each of its data centers.
- Infrastructures and processes that not only adhere to a range of regulatory compliance demands, but guidance and assistance demonstrating a customer’s compliance with regulations to which they are subject.
- Accessibility to specialized skills in solution design, hardware, software, security and networking technologies.
- Performance reports and dashboards, and scheduled technical reviews with customers.
- Online flexible spending and provisioning tools that customers can use at their discretion.
Now comes the hard part: squeezing all those big CSP assets down into a positive, consultative and (dare we say) personal customer experience? It’s much harder for the provider that starts with a mega-scale business model than it is for a company that begins small with intense customer focus and builds from there customer by customer, service by service, data center by data center.
The real trick is keeping business local while, at the same time, the company grows up and out to serve customers globally. Allowing the professionals at each data center to exercise their own authority, make decisions and take actions in the customers’ best interests without red tape, and to always be up-front, available and responsive to not only customers but the community at large are the keys to success.
The corporate office may set the standards and policies that all facilities across its network will adhere to, and provide those facilities with the resources, tools and vision that foster success. The rest happens on the data center front lines, face-to-face, 24/7/365, one customer at a time.
Interested in learning about the cost, technology and resource advantages of working with Peak 10 —an IT infrastructure company that’s national in scale and resources but has local presence and accountability? Just let us know.