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One of the biggest challenges in marketing cloud computing, Gabriel argued, is that solution providers are selling to IT professionals who have been dealing with more traditional infrastructure for decades -- professionals who aren't ready to let a provider manage all of their IT just because of some trendy buzzwords.
"I think part of that [change] is the transition in their minds they make from having to do it themselves and having someone do it for them. They've done it forever," he said. "Cloud isn't a switch. It's a dimmer switch. Gradual."
Peter D'Almeida, managing director and chief executive at Sri Lanka-based provider N-able, insisted that customers aren't swayed by creative marketing slogans but can quickly relate to what disruptive technologies like virtualization can do for their business. They respond, he noted, to the experience of cloud computing.
He ribbed Cisco a bit for using terms like "Data Center 3.0" and "Unified Computing System," which as descriptors don't really mean anything, but whose underlying technology, said D'Almeida, is fantastic. He questioned why many Cisco sales reps and Cisco partners focus on the creative terminology and not the story -- sell the sizzle, not the steak, in other words.
"The cloud isn't the product, nor is the access." D'Almeida said. "All we can sell is the service and the experience."
One byproduct of the cloud revolution, D'Almeida argued, is that major telco service providers will eventually get hip to selling the total solution -- technology and bandwidth -- which will drive a lot of IT-based VARs and managed services experts out of the business.
"They'll take away business because they own the pipes," he said.
D'Ambroise and Gabriel challenged that argument, however, insisting that the role of more traditional solution providers will still be to provide value-added services on top of those pipes.
The cloud infrastructure changeover for businesses, Gabriel said, will be "reasonably slow and gradual."