Get Your Head in the Cloud

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Cloud computing is a rapidly growing and evolving model for IT infrastructure. Agents who understand the fundamentals of cloud offerings can provide additional value to new and existing clients and gain opportunities and revenue from this IT juggernaut.

So just what is the cloud? In the broadest sense, the cloud exists online, and its applications are stored in data centers across the United States or even the globe. Used interchangeably with “cloud computing” or “cloud infrastructure,” the “cloud” is a term used to describe an IT environment or model for leveraging outside resources for things like servers, networks and equipment that are available instantly on an as-needed basis. The key components of a cloud environment are on-demand accessibility, scalability, elasticity and affordability.

The model for cloud computing is attractive to many businesses, particularly SMBs, because it helps them avoid costly infrastructure and personnel expenses while still getting the computing performance they need. All necessary equipment, applications and files are stored on and maintained by “shared” resources in the cloud, defraying the costs for all while benefiting the collective with robust highly elastic computing.

Why should the agent community care? The answer: $42 billion. That’s the growth over the next few years in IT spending on cloud services projected by research firm IDC. Because the cloud enables smarter and more affordable IT options for SMBs and enterprises alike, agents can explore cloud opportunities with clients and prospects in the same conversation as their existing suite of services. For agents, a few simple steps can unlock enormous upside in this burgeoning opportunity.

Step 1: Listen for the buzz. The first thing for agents to do in uncovering a need for the cloud is not ground-breaking. It’s to keep doing what you already do: listen and take mental notes. The only twist is to pay attention to a new set of trigger comments that may create an opening to present new ideas. You may hear an IT director complain about scalability or CIO talk about capex (avoiding, reducing or eliminating it) or minimizing opex, all of which are signs that they may be open to a conversation about the cloud as a way to save money and side-step big ticket items. Other common themes that enable you to introduce the cloud are disaster recovery and compliance issues, avoiding single points of failure, managing production and dev environments and processing-based applications. Buzz words to tune into are BC/DR, elasticity, virtualization, CPU ratio, burstability, load balancing and high availability, to name a few.

If you are hearing these phrases or terms from clients and prospects, chances are there’s an opportunity for a conversation about cloud services. And even if you aren’t fully comfortable talking in depth about the cloud, you can equip yourself with knowledge, tools and the right relationships for a round two discussion — and avoid leaving money on the table.

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