GreenPages CEO: 10 Cloud Trends You Need To Know

Looking Back, And Forward, With The Cloud

Over the past few years, GreenPages has bet big on the cloud, and is seeing tremendous success from its strategic push. In his keynote address at the company's CloudScape 2014 summit in Portsmouth, N.H., CEO Ron Dupler spoke of the cloud trends and shifts that the solution provider, No. 151 on CRN's 2014 SP500 list, is seeing in the market today.

Take a look at 10 of the cloud shifts the company has seen over the past five years and how the solution provider recommends companies position themselves for cloud success down the road.

Everyone's Buying Into The Cloud

In 2009, when GreenPages first started the CloudScape conference series to talk about the cloud transition, its theme was a "Brave New World." At that time, Dupler said that only half of the attendees thought cloud was important or relevant to them, with the others saying it wasn't something they needed to be worried about. In subsequent years, discussions centered around how the market was changing, and are continuing to change, to adapt to a new normal. This year, five years after half the audience was in denial of the importance of the cloud, Dupler said that, whether it is a private, public or hybrid cloud, the shift is now inevitable.

"No one debates that this is real," he said in his keynote, and he said people are turning to GreenPages for help on executing that shift.

Businesses Ready For Strategic Shift

Dupler said that, with the shift to the cloud, he sees a market change to embrace strategic help from solution providers on making the switch to the cloud in the form of the Virtual Chief Information Officer (VCIO).

While GreenPages is still looking to staff that role, Dupler said that his company sees a huge opportunity in smaller organizations turning to the solution provider for business alignment and strategic technical guidance. He said that GreenPages recognizes the need for that offering in the market and the company will be staffing it shortly, with the result to be presented before next year's summit.

Larger Organizations Turning To Channel

It's not just small organizations that are turning to the channel for support. Dupler said that he is seeing larger clients going through the cloud transition that are turning to GreenPages for help.

In what Dupler called the "outsourced VP of infrastructure role," GreenPages will work with the team, craft a strategy and help lead the transformation of the business. While it's more strategic than technical, Dupler said that it's the "new, logical extension of what we've been doing," and he said it is one of the "key trends" that the GreenPages management team sees and plans to capitalize on in the future.

Public Cloud Adoption Accelerating

Citing the RW Baird Q4 2013 Cloud Report, Dupler said that it hypothesized that the market was still in denial of public cloud, with public cloud spending representing only a small portion of overall IT spending dollars -- the bulk of that spending still on private cloud. However, public cloud is accelerating rapidly, he said. Citing the report, Dupler said that for every dollar that moves to public cloud, there's a $3 to $4 spending decrease on other customer technology.

"As workloads move from private to public for a variety of reasons, that puts downward pressure on the customer-owned side of the spectrum and increases the public cloud side of the spectrum," Dupler said.

Vendor Cloud Headwinds

With earnings announcements and analyst dialog around customer spending, Dupler said that there was soft spending last year. However, as the technology market improves, Dupler said that there are now earnings announcements from some major vendors who stepped late into the cloud foray having mainstream discussions around "cloud headwinds."

For example, he cited Bob Gault (pictured), vice president of cloud and managed services partner organization for Cisco, who gave an earlier keynote, saying how Cisco had to transform the company toward the cloud to remain relevant.

Change Or Die

Things are moving quickly in the cloud market, Dupler said, and companies are facing a lot of pressure to adopt the cloud, or perish.

"Our theory, as an organization, this is something we've felt for many years and still feel today," Dupler said. "No one is immune from the change mandate ... It may be more important for some than others, but the way IT is delivered is changing. It's going to continue to change with increased velocity."

However, Dupler did add that it isn't all "doom and gloom" for the data center, which he said is "by no means dead, nor will it be." In fact, Dupler said that he predicts a big wave of data center growth down the road, with a lot of work to be done for customer-owned infrastructure.

Cloud Maturity

Dupler said that there are four stages to the cloud maturity model, moving from private cloud enablement, to public cloud enablement, to public cloud governance to enterprise cloud service brokerage.

He said that GreenPages is working to help move clients along maturity curves to improve IT operations effectiveness. He said that he sees more people continuing to think about, ask about, and build robust strategies around moving forward in cloud maturity and increase speed, flexibility and cost efficiently.

Wild West For Vendors

On the vendor side of the cloud equation, Dupler said that is a "Wild West scenario right now." It started as an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) play, with Amazon's EC2, and now, Dupler said he is seeing the trend move toward companies adding business value on top of IaaS. In particular, he said Amazon, VMware and Microsoft are trying to compete and figure out how to stay relevant by adding business value layered on top of IaaS. For GreenPages' part, Dupler said that the solution provider's strategy is to remain vendor-agnostic.

"We see our role as a solution provider not to be working with one virtualization company, one networking company, one storage company ... We actually try to remain relevant and certified across all the major platforms, everything we can keep up with, so our architects are working in a model that they can go in to a client and recommend a solution," Dupler said. "Ultimately, what we're trying to do is recommend the right solution based on what [the client is] trying to do."

Hybrid Cloud Enablement

Ultimately, the market is moving toward a hybrid cloud model, and the opportunity and challenge become how to best blend those two together, Dupler said. Whether a company is planning on implementing a private cloud solution or a public cloud solution, Dupler said they should make sure the environment is enabled for a hybrid cloud option down the road, even if they don't implement it right away.

"We're not saying you need to move to public cloud; we're saying you’ve got to be thinking about it. You should absolutely be evaluating your IT strategy not just in terms of customer-owned technology," Dupler said.

Strategic Decision Vs. Desperation

There are four main reasons why companies make the move to the cloud, Dupler said. First, they can follow an evolutionary transition, where they adopt cloud as a way to solve old business problems. Second, as a reactive solution to Shadow IT. Third, as an event-driven initiative, for example, based around a divestiture or company move. Finally, Dupler said that companies move to the cloud for proactive and strategic visions based on a worldview recognition of the importance of the technology.

When he polled audience members at the event, a clear majority said that they moved for proactive and strategic reasons.