by Clive Brindley, HP Software Country Manager, South Africa
The number “1”. The first in an infinite line of digits that make up the world that we know today. If you break down the fundamentals of life, maths, technology and more, the number 1 and 0 are what it’s about.
But let us focus on the number 1 for a bit (to use a word). Who today concerns themselves with the circle that is zero? I prefer not to get paid 0 at the end of the month, prefer not to make 0 on the scoreboard when batting at the Sunday cricket match and certainly do not like the idea of being called a zero (hero for sure, but not zero). We only remember who is number 1 in sport or politics and who the number 1 World Cup rugby team is. Do you remember who came second in the 2000 F1 World Championship? You better know who came first – it was the legend that is Michael Schumacher.
So you might now be thinking, come on Clive get to the point. Well this is it – the number 1 is very relevant to the consumer when traversing into the Cloud. What? How? Let me explain…
If you are working in a large corporation today, IT is frantically scrambling on how best to adopt Cloud. They are building internal private Clouds to enable, in most cases, basic Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solutions for their internal business units. Then they are looking at what services/applications they can source and offload into the Cloud, hopefully this will free them up to use the savings for further innovation (yes, they have planned the transition to hybrid IT sourcing, let’s just assume they have all their ducks in a row). The point is, they are sorting it out for you. You get your PC, mobile device and all the services delivered to SLA, you should not even know what is Cloud and what is not – that might just make things cloudy for you (this is my 1 and only joke for the day).
But now I would like you to imagine you are a small to medium enterprise. You have limited IT specialists, want to leverage the potential of Cloud, save your valuable cash and make IT complexity someone else’s problem. You want to focus on your customer and make sure they have the best product/service that you can offer. You want to focus on YOUR business. So you decide that from the beginning of 2012, you will leverage the opportunity Cloud can bring your organisation and start with offloading your email to a designated Cloud email provider. Things go well and everybody loves the performance of the new email system. It is secure due to the high level of protection the provider is offering (content scanning, spam filtering and more) and is costing you a fraction vs. running the email infrastructure in the office – now someone can actually remove the server under the desk and place the dustbin where it should be.
As your confidence in the Cloud increases, you decide to offload your backup/storage services to a Cloud storage provider. (Luckily, the provider is linked into your metro fibre backbone so performance is fantastic and storage as a service is a reality for your business). To subscribe, you login into a different website, check SLA’s, sign-up to the service and start offloading local storage to the new Cloud storage. All goes well, over time you decide to subscribe to a Payroll as a Service Cloud offering and then a CRM application for all sales – within a few months you are subscribed to at least five new Cloud services. Now we start realising the flip side of Cloud for SME.
This is the challenge, how do you manage all the different agreements, SLA’s, subscription fees and more of these disparate Cloud providers. It is like trying to book a holiday including flights, accommodation, car rental and excursions. Sure, it is possible to do but a lot more work and not a single point of contact if help is needed.
What the SME market needs to truly assist in adoption of Cloud, or making the Cloud experience seamless and less stressful, are Cloud aggregators that offer a 1-stop shop for the myriad of Cloud services that are available in the market today. SME’s need a single portal to shop and select the services they want, allowing them to focus on their business. When there is a problem with a service, you contact the aggregator, talk to a single person and hopefully come to a speedy resolution. To re-iterate a point, in the big corporate world with large IT estates, you get an access device and all is sorted. You have no idea what is Cloud and what is not, but to the SME you need the Cloud aggregator to be your IT broker.
So there it is, the power of 1. We have come full circle and I trust you now understand why, for me and my friends running their small to medium enterprises, the power of 1 is numero uno…