To Cloud or not to Cloud

 

By Ralph Figueiredo

 

I recently met with a customer (Referred to as V) who has a very innovative way of running his business. They are a technology company that offers Cloud CRM specifically developed for the Life Sciences Industry and Healthcare Companies. This high tech company has approximately 500 employees globally, is headquartered in the Silicon Valley and runs cutting edge technology in-house, managed entirely by 2 IT admins.

“How are they doing it?” I asked.

With no Servers, the COO replied. NO SERVERS!! Well, that’s not entirely true, he admitted. They had one server running VMware in their lab for testing applications and development work, he informed me.

So, how do they do it? And more importantly, why? And what I found out turned my world upside down.

Here’s why: Aurora (my company) has been in business for 20 years, selling and deploying technology solutions for SMB, Mid-Market and Public Sector customers. We have 30 employees and we run 18 production servers in house. That’s in addition to the 20+ lab servers that are virtualized. We have a team of 5 engineers who share various responsibilities in managing these servers. Our IT infrastructure management overhead is about 2x that of my 500 seat customer.

So how does V pull it off?

  1. Well, they invest in new technology and applications that are 100% Cloud Ready. That’s their business model. They refuse to run any ‘old technology’. Old Technology, being applications that only run in-house.
  2. They invest in applications that are open to connectors, to API’s (Application Programming Interface). If the application doesn’t allow or promote API’s as a culture, they don’t evaluate it.
  3. Finally, they test internally without requiring much help from external vendors. After stringent testing if the application or solution passes the test, they’re in for the long haul. If it requires a lot of help/interference from the vendor, they’ll likely not go for it.

Why does V do it?

  1. They see this as their future. Small IT staff, Cloud Infrastructure
  2. They themselves propagate Cloud CRM. ‘You have to live it to build it’ is their mantra.
  3. They come from a culture of driving and embracing change.
  4. It’s fun! It’s fun to be doing new things, on the cutting edge of technology.
  5. The pure economies of scale and the speed to market, which is critical for a competitive startup. Not being slowed down by ‘old technology’ and traditional IT.
  6. Fixed operations cost per employee. When an employee is hired, they know exactly how much that employee will cost per month in IT infrastructure (Email, Security, VoIP Phone, Cloud Applications, etc.).
  7. Culture: This is their culture. They live and breathe ‘Cloud’.

That’s why it shook my world. We sell Cloud solutions too. We’ve been doing it for over 5 years, and we firmly believe that no one can and will go 100% cloud. My hardware and software sales guys and gals will still have transactions to process. Customers will still buys some servers and those servers will then need security and backup and disaster recovery, and a server room and smart IT people (engineers), etc., etc. That’s my world, I understand that world.

My first feeling was one of fear. What if all my clients went 100% cloud? It would truly be in their best interest, provided Cloud vendors and Cloud applications made themselves available.

Logic kicks in. Not everyone can embrace change and have a 100% Cloud culture like V. Some applications are just not ‘Cloud-ready’ and may not be for a long time. I firmly believe Cloud is here to stay, but I don’t believe, for the reasons mentioned above, that a lot of existing businesses will be able to pull off 100% cloud. Start-ups maybe, as Cloud is all they might know

My final thought: Why are we not a 100% Cloud company…. Stay tuned…. Time to embrace change… again.

 

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