Self-Service or Full-Service — Which Cloud is Best for You?
By Lane Smith
Have you looked into what people are calling the Cloud lately? Confused? Welcome to the club.
I have to admit that despite the fact that I have spent my career in the IT industry, I too have had a difficult time putting all the pieces together when it comes to understanding what Cloud means. This is in part due to the fact that the “Cloud” term is relatively new to the market, and as with any new concept, it takes a while for the terminology to settle on standards. It appears that this is finally starting to happen with three core definitions coming to the top: private cloud, hybrid cloud and public cloud.
I’ll get to some more details on the different Cloud offerings in a later post. Today I want to talk about how to decide which is the best fit for you, or better yet, just how do you even get started leveraging the Cloud? To answer this, I suggest you ask yourself one simple question: Are you a self-service or a full-service person?
To help you get started, let’s take a look at Facebook, no doubt one of the most popular Cloud solutions. Facebook is what I consider a self-service public Cloud solution. A typical experience with Facebook goes something like this: You decide to use the solution so you go to their website and create an account. Next you spend way too many hours wandering around the application trying to understand the features and turn it into something you can use. If you have questions, you search and search and search through the online FAQ’s and mediocre help files until you either find an answer or give up. There is no one to call for help, no one to give you direction on how to best use the application, and even worse, no one who really cares what you have to say. This results in features that you never use, or worse, make the application more difficult for you to use.
It’s easy to pick on Facebook, but the reality is that in the online (Cloud) world there are more faceless companies out there than you can count, and they are ready to take your money and offer limited solutions with little to no support.
There is a slew of what I refer to as better-service solutions out there. Salesforce.com is a good example.With their solution, you can purchase the application, purchase integration services and even purchase phone support. This is a much better solution as you have actual human beings to communicate with and they will no doubt work to deploy their solution as best they can to meet your business needs.
Now this brings me to what I believe all companies truly need, and that is a full-service solution. This is where your local service provider comes in. If you have worked with one in the past, you know that they look at your business needs and then help you implement technology that best meets these needs. Just because we are not talking about “Cloud” based technology does not change the fact that you still need help applying this technology to your business.
Your solution provider will be able to work with you to determine what your business drivers are. They will then put together a complete Cloud-based solution for you that will most likely be a hybrid cloud that mashes public and private cloud together to meet your needs.
A managed services pioneer, Lane Smith served for 11 years as CEO and President of Do IT Smarter, a leading Master Managed Services Provider focused on transitioning VARs to MSPs. Through programs, initiatives that he brought to market and community involvement, Lane has been influential in the managed services industry since its beginning. In 2008, 2009 and again in 2010 he was named to the MSPmentor 250. To help educate the reseller community on MSP best practices, Lane serves on the MSP Alliance Board of Advisors and on the Channel Vanguard Council.