What Should Really Worry You About Cloud

Lorna GareyJudging by the data, many customers see cloud as a Doomsday Machine — simple for business users to understand, credible and convincing, yet able to annihilate their race. Who needs admins when all the servers and NAS arrays are in a cloud bunker in Idaho?

The response for many has been to stonewall. When business leaders ask about cloud, throw out a couple of anecdotes about disastrous AWS outages, mumble something dire about compliance, then go back to the war server room and play Minecraft.

Trusted advisers need to stop aiding and abetting that behavior. First, your customers have shadow cloud services running. Every last one of them. Cloud Security Alliance audits show an industry average of 928 cloud services in use per company. IT is typically aware of only 60 — not even 10 percent of the total. That’s not conjecture, it’s log analysis. As security expert Michael Davis discusses in “Cloud Risk, Hype vs. Reality,” you can’t protect what you don’t know about.

Second, all those blue-chip vendors you’ve partnered with for years are very serious about moving workloads to the cloud. Preferably their clouds, say AT&T, Cisco, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Rackspace, Verizon. Even Oracle is now all in on cloud. Brocade and F5 are selling their products as virtual network functions. Howard Cohen lays out the domination strategies for some top IaaS providers, on whose networks hundreds of innovative products are being built. DR-as-a-service, productivity suites, databases. There’s no business app that you cannot provision for customers from the cloud. Multimillion-dollar companies run just fine without so much as a PBX.

And finally, the health of your business depends on welcoming born-in-the-cloud vendors and customers. As Dede Haas discusses, relationships matter now just as much as when you’d go on-site to swap out a stack of appliances. Line of business decision-makers understand that a new world order is at hand, and they’re watching to see which partners have their companies’ best interests at heart. As our keynoters will point out, cloud’s the new C-suite BFF. Where that leaves you is entirely in your hands.

I don’t care whether a customer is in the business of selling cars, baking pizzas or delivering health care, cloud services — and with them the Internet of Things and new cyberthreats and opportunities — are here now. You’ll hear about them throughout Cloud Partners, from the winners of our 2015 Cloudy awards for innovation to education sessions on developing a cloud broker or security practice to working with Amazon and Google.

The long-term survival of your customers is at stake. Let them fall too far behind competitors in use of cloud and they risk being priced, or innovated, right out of existence. And they’ll take you with them. Now that’s something to worry about.

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