IT solution providers know the benefits private clouds can deliver to customers and prospects. However, it's not always easy for MSPs, VARs and consultants to translate their knowledge into a compelling pitch to cloud-wary clients.
The private cloud helps enterprises and small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) reduce capital spending and decrease their IT operational workloads. However, not all companies poised to leverage their virtual infrastructures are eager to do so. The right approach can make the difference between selling a client on private cloud deployment and closing the door on a potential deal.
The worries that keep your reluctant clients awake at night
Many CEOs and business executives hear the word "cloud" and shut down. This misunderstood buzzword can sometimes raise roadblocks with stakeholders. Therefore, consider leading with a benefits discussion. What do your clients care about? They want to:
- Drive down costs, improve customer service and provide competitive advantage.
- Deploy showback and costing models that ultimately translate into lower total cost of ownership.
- Build on the flexibility, agility and cost savings available in their virtual environments.
The private cloud addresses all of these concerns. When you discuss private clouds with enterprises and SMBs, stress the fact that this is more than an infrastructure investment. Instead, deploying a private cloud can be the means to fulfill many of a business' most pressing concerns, and it doesn't have to be a lengthy process.
By this point, many of your clients have accepted server and storage virtualization. It is the solution provider's job now to explain that virtualization is only a stepping-stone in a company's evolution to delivering infrastructure as a value-added, on-demand service. Making this move requires people, processes and technology. When MSPs and VARs put all three of those elements together for clients, companies will be more receptive to adoption.
Once you position the private cloud as a cost-saving, agility-building move that leverages existing investments, you can begin a conversation about operational efficiency and speed. These are equally powerful concepts to share with IT and business leaders who might be on the fence about infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and the private cloud. That discussion should include these four facts.
1) Cloud maturity fosters competitive advantage. The cloud is not just an infrastructure investment, but also a way to drive down costs and improve customer service with a repeatable, standardized and highly optimized process. Elevate your infrastructure conversations to arguments about competitive advantage and speed to market. Then, perform a cloud-readiness assessment to determine where process improvements need to be made and which tools and roadmaps make the most sense for the client.
2) Private cloud management platforms map to a company's specific needs. Recommend solutions that clients can easily pilot based on their gap analysis. Choose management platforms that can quickly and effectively deliver private cloud computing competencies that align with the customer's needs. This is also an opportunity to highlight private cloud features such as self-service provisioning, IT costing and showback, and service catalogs.
3) Cloud management improves data center performance. Emphasize the value of speed, agility and simplification in terms of data center management and performance. Cloud management solutions calculate costs, automate routine administrative tasks and help optimize the performance and configuration of the virtual data center. This is the natural next stage for the work your clients have already done in their virtual environments, so make the point that the private cloud builds on the performance improvements clients have already gained.
4) The private cloud creates efficiency. Cloud deployments make it easier to monitor, measure and manage IT consumption. The IT team becomes more productive because business users can provision their own resources as appropriate.
Once you've covered the above points, get ready to address any lingering concerns prospects have about the private cloud and cloud management. They will expect you to make a business and technical case. Explain that transitioning to the cloud can be a painless process for companies that pick the right partners and solutions.
Colin Jack is the lead systems engineer at Embotics Corporation. He oversees cloud management educational efforts at local VMUGs and other customer events. Previously, Colin was the IT manager and systems administrator for a number of technology and telecommunication firms.
PUBLISHED DEC. 7, 2012