"The truth is there is no cloud," said Michael Power, senior strategist for the Cloud Technology Institute during a training session Sunday at One-on-One, master agency MicroCorp's partner meeting in Atlanta.
A cloud expert disavowing cloud seems kind of like a paleontologist denying the existence of dinosaurs. But Power is not talking himself out of a job; this bombshell is his opening salvo for a four-hour boot camp on cloud services.
So what's he playing at? Not unlike a drill sergeant with new recruits, Power wants his students -- telecom agents and VARs -- to discard what they think they know and start over -- in this case, by thinking of cloud in customer-focused terms.
So, as for Power's assertion that there is no cloud, he explained that all the technologies that make up cloud -- virtualization, hosting, data center, storage, network, etc. -- have been around for years. "It's the same technology that's been taking care of them -- we're just providing it differently," he said.
That is "as a service" and with two significant twists: One, delivery of cloud components has become commoditized and thus accessible by businesses of all sizes. Two, elasticity (on-demand expansion and return to original capacity) has been added.
Enterprise-class computing in the hands of IT guys that couldn't afford it before cloud delivery changes everything, Power said. "Think about the speed of their business. IT has been an anchor. [With cloud services], now they can sprint," he said.
Power begrudgingly shared a definition of cloud with the MicroCorp audience: "An assembly of technologies and resources designed to provision, with efficiency and controls, a universally accessible, highly available deployment of technical specifications that satisfy business requirements."
But it's the last two words that are most important. "Let's dumb it down ... to just 'business requirements,'" he said.
Power is big on not over-thinking things (unless you count that bit on "persistence of time" and gravity, but I digress). To wit, if there is no cloud, as Power asserts, then it becomes like any technology migration. "At the end of the day, you have to plan for this like any technology upgrade you have ever done," Power said.
That is key for partners to understand, so they don't forget best practices apply. In particular he pointed to five factors that partners should focus on: payback (ROI), process, politics, planning and people.
Power said to sell cloud-based services, partners need to have at least two of the following three things:
- Currency (capital and information)
In addition, he said they must demonstrate trust and competence. The problem, he noted, is that you can't know how to do a cloud migration unless you've done it. Of course, you can bring in vendors and other experts to help, but you also should understand that most companies are not going to move their entire infrastructure to the cloud on day one, so getting them to move one workload can help you demonstrate competence to sell them additional services later.