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How to Know What to Look For in a Cloud Service Provider

June 6, 2014

Standing trackside at a NASCAR race, it’s hard to see anything other than a 200 mile-per-hour blur passing before your eyes. Stepping back or, better yet, viewing from above, it’s easier to see drivers’ strategies in action. If you really wanted insight into the unfolding event, you’d want detailed knowledge about the teams behind the racers, proclivities of the drivers under certain conditions, financial wherewithal of the owner, sponsor/partner relationships, why they are in this business to begin with, among many other things … especially if you’re wagering a large sum on the outcome.

The same can be said about betting on a cloud service provider (CSP). Down close, this industry is whizzing by faster and faster. Each time the pack passes, however, there are more competitors jockeying for position. Knowing who’s who and what they’re capable of can be a real challenge.

Time to step back, as Forrester, Inc. analyst James Staten advises clients in his recent cloud computing playbook, “Understand The Cloud Service Provider Market Landscape.” The thoughtful analysis of the industry begins with, “All Cloud Providers Are Far From the Same.”

To develop his industry profile, Staten dissects the business origins, global scale and scope, various business models and geographic and cultural influences on services delivered. At a high level, the industry breaks down into three tiers of competitors, with players in each tier having similar size, market reach, investment capabilities and capitalization. Tier 1 is composed of 10s of CSPs worldwide (14 are mentioned by name). Tier 2 has 100s globally, with 1000s comprising Tier 3. Each tier brings different advantages and tradeoffs, according to customers’ business requirements and spending plans. Peak 10 is solidly in the upper Tier 2.

The report goes on to advise cloud consumers to dig deep into the true nature, business models, plans and capabilities of prospective CSPs to identify the provider or providers that are best aligned with the customers’ business strategy, requirements and objectives. That is, determine which providers can be a strategic asset.

Having started operations in the midst of the dot.com boom in 2000, Peak 10 has progressed through many of the life stages mentioned in Staten’s report. The company saw a need among mid-market businesses, particularly in emerging growth markets, for the same reliable, secure data center services common to the telecom industry. From there growth and expansion (both in services and footprint) have been steadily upward, and continue today.

Today, our market position is as a national provider of IT infrastructure, cloud and managed services. That would place us in the category of hybrid cloud services provider. The report goes on to note how valuable hybrid vendors can be to customers as they transition more operations into the cloud.

“By having feet in both the old and new worlds, [hybrid vendors] can help you plan your portfolio migrations appropriately and often have integrated their cloud and non-cloud solutions over a secure private network, making it easier for you to integrate different applications and move to cloud at your own pace,” the report states.

The people at Peak 10 are very partial to one particular attribute associated with hybrid cloud providers in the report: Explicitly help customers leverage cloud where it fits. More than anything else, this is the greatest value the company can deliver to its customers.

Forrest Research: Understand The Cloud Service Provider Market Landscape by James Staten with Christopher Voce, William Martorelli, Ed Ferrara, Michael Caputo, May 19, 2014

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About Peak 10

"Our values are the foundation for everything we do at Peak 10, and are ultimately what enable us to earn our customers' business and their trust."
David H. Jones,
Board Member, Peak 10 + ViaWest