Who is waiting for whom?

Fujitsu Forum will open its doors on November 9th. I can hardly wait for the inspiring talks and discussions with customers and partners. Cloud services will definitely be a hot topic within the overall theme of ‘Reshaping IT’.

Waiting for the event makes me think about the relationship between customers and the cloud. An event is only a success if enough – and the right – people attend. You don’t want to attend if no one else is going. Is this true for the cloud, too? Do we have a chicken-and-egg question when it comes to cloud services? Who is waiting for whom – the cloud for the customer, or the customer for the cloud? And I am talking about real cloud services, not about outsourcing, managed services or traditional license or product businesses which are glossed over by some providers as cloud (aka “cloudwashing”). From my point of view this is really cheating customers.

I’ll give you an example: In order to make cloud computing more attractive for the professional mass market in corporate environments, adequate numbers of companies will have to push developments such as gapless broadband access or standardized virtual interfaces that help to avoid any lock-in and enable the integration of different cloud functions and applications. But potential customers – and that is the crux – are hesitating to enter the cloud as long as they perceive it as technically immature.

The same thing has happened with every groundbreaking new technology – from the PC to social networks. Ever since Geoffrey A. Moore wrote Crossing the Chasm* we know that early adopters have different expectations than the early majority. But the latter is the crucial group we need to win over in order to transition a new disruptive technology into our everyday lives. So what is this early majority looking for in the cloud?

They are called “pragmatists” for a reason. According to Moore, clear, no-nonsense benefits and visible effects on their business is what will convince them. However, this can’t be provided by a single enterprise. The joint effort of the entire market is required to build this bridge.

First of all, the necessary cloud infrastructure and the ability to access it must be in place. In this case (to stick to the metaphor) the technical infrastructure is the bridge. So for instance, comprehensive broadband access is obligatory – and thankfully, it’s already available in many parts of the world. However, once the bridge is there, how do we encourage companies to cross it and embrace the new cloud landscape? I’d say let’s get pragmatic. Very often, seeing is believing. So we need to clearly showcase the different aspects of the cloud and the positive effects it can have on businesses that are already there, like our customers VBH or RTT.

The Fujitsu Forum will be a good opportunity to talk about such genuine opportunities and the real risks for each company in setting and finding pragmatic approaches to transitioning into the cloud. To me, there’s no question as to who should be moving first: provider or customer. We should walk together because no one can expect to sit back and wait for the other guy to take the first step. Remember: crossing bridges is a good way to make new friends. Are you ready to move? Come to the Fujitsu Forum and meet me or one of my fellow cloud experts for some travel planning! Or go and charter your trip to the future under: www.global-cloud.ts.fujitsu.com.

*http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/rethinking_crossing_the_chasm.php

Sincerely,

Andre Kiehne

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Do you dare not to dare?

To anyone who has been caught up in the cloud euphoria, I’d like to recommend the study that Price Waterhouse Coopers did on cloud computing in German mid-sized industries. [Link: http://www.pwc.de/de_DE/de/mittelstand/assets/Cloud_Computing_Mittelstand.pdf] It will bring you back to earth rather quickly. Around 90 (that’s ninety) percent of German mid-sized companies say that they still do not make use of cloud services. Of that ninety percent, 88 percent say that they have no plans to do so in the foreseeable future. More than half of the non-users have not even considered the topic yet. Perhaps the reason for these reservations (to put it mildly) stems from a certain immunity to hype and from a profound conviction concerning their own core competencies and abilities. Or maybe they are simply not aware of how many cloud services they are already using. Or is this again a matter of the right definition – what is cloud? Either way, this is worth to spend some thoughts on.

I think decision makers of a leading industrial nation cannot afford to be so unaffected by new technologies. This is especially so, given that most experts predict double-digit annual growth and thus increasing importance for these technologies. The most prominent advantages are saving money and gaining flexibility – and that applies especially to small and medium-sized enterprises.

But that’s just the beginning. In the long run, cloud computing will emerge as the motor of innovation for enterprises; it will change the working environment and it will even change society. Within the cloud, you can be sure that your provider will steadily modernize the infrastructure and keep it up to date, meaning: you will be ahead of technical improvements automatically.

Or think of how difficult it is to find the right experts for your IT. While there is more and more IT Infrastructure to administer in a company, there are fewer and fewer knowledgeable employees who can meet this challenge. With cloud computing services, you can compensate for this shortage and make better use of your skilled workers.

The reasons given for not using cloud services stem primarily from worries about security or a lack of familiarity with the benefits. (See my blog post here) .That’s probably not the best basis for making a decision, especially when you consider that the expectations of 93 percent of those who have dared to enter the cloud have been met, at least partially.

This whole scenario reminds me a little bit of the discussion we had about Internet or social media. Here too, we initially had a broad front of skeptics as opposed to just a few gung-ho users. People said things like, “In two years, nobody will remember Twitter and Facebook.” My answer today is the same as it was back then: “It will change, but it’s here to stay.” Just like there are good reasons for a business not to use each and every social network technology, cloud computing is not a panacea. However, before you make a decision, you should at least show some interest in the topic and explore it thoroughly.  And please start to consider some providers that can really provide you with solutions and not just a internet page to register.

“Inter esse” is Latin and it means “to be with it”. I would love to see more CIOs in Germany to be really with it.

Sincerely,

Andre Kiehne

It’s All About Trust

Remember my story about getting stuck in a traffic jam? . I was on my way to talk about cloud services with CIOs from Malaysia when I discovered something interesting: despite a distance of 14,000 kilometers between Munich and Asia, the topics and concerns are the same.

IT executives recognize the tremendous opportunities cloud services offer in terms of cost efficiency and flexibility. Many feel though, that it sometimes comes with a price tag they consider too high: security. The desire for security is perfectly understandable because attackers are becoming ever more professional while IT landscapes are growing ever more complex. But from a technological point of view, a company network can be just as safe – or vulnerable – as the cloud provider’s assuming that both are using latest technology. Of course, in many cases a cloud provider’s infrastructure and solutions are much safer because providers specialize in these services. Therefore, they know and utilize the latest technology.

For instance, a cloud service provider can leverage the most sophisticated security shields, apply certified best practices and the advantages of well-trained experts simply because it has better economies of scale than an individual customer. In other words, higher security levels are actually easier to achieve in a well-defined state-of-the-art cloud computing data center than in a typical real-world enterprise with its numerous everyday challenges.

But when people talk about security of cloud services, do they really mean it literally? I am strongly convinced that the answer is no! This isn‘t just about security. Whether it’s in Germany or in the Far East, I’ve noticed that when people are saying security, what they really mean is trust. Because that’s ultimately what it’s all about: I ‘entrust’ my data to a cloud service provider.

But how does trust arise? How and where can you detect whether a partner or cloud service provider is worth your trust?

Trust arises through relationships. It consists of three components: credibility, reliability and genuineness. A Japanese proverb says: If you really want to know something, ask someone experienced rather than someone learned. Today’s social networks – many of which only exist through cloud technology, by the way – make it easier than ever to find the necessary experience and information. You can choose the sources that you find credible; you can learn from the experience of others about a possible partner. But most importantly, you can also get a better feeling for the company culture of a cloud provider. Technologies, markets and sales models change fast – corporate culture does not. So looking at how a provider acted in the past is a good indicator of the three components of trust. And there are some other things that need to be considered: Cloud services consist of hardware, software and services – so you better look for a partner who is experienced in all three disciplines.

In that sense, trusting a cloud service provider is not much different than trusting a hardware vendor to deliver solid hardware, maintenance, and spare parts for the foreseeable service life of your components. After all, your business already relies heavily on IT and you need to trust your servers, storage and network to do exactly what you need. Cloud services only add the phrase “no matter where they are operated and by whom”.

That’s why my advice to the Malaysian CIOs was the same as my advice to their German counterparts:

The right cloud service provider for you is the one who will take your reservations seriously and devise flexible but lasting solutions for you and with you. That’s ultimately the way to obtain a cloud service that really responds to your security and risk needs while contributing to your business success.

Want to read more on how the Fujitsu Cloud can help your business? www.global-cloud.ts.fujitsu.com

Sincerely,

Andre Kiehne

Up in the Clouds…

… was I, but I was in for a rude awakening when I realized that I was stuck in traffic and going nowhere fast. There’s not a cloud service on earth that could get me to my meeting on time where numerous CIOs from Malaysia where waiting to hear my presentation. As it turned out, the unavoidable delay didn’t dampen the audience’s interest in the subject in the least. After all, the topic on today’s agenda was one that absorbs the attention of the community like no other: cloud computing.

May the devil take the hindmost! Everything is cloud today. I have the impression that the whole world is careening down the information superhighway toward the cloud. The simple reason: We need to be careful not to get stuck in a traffic jam or even causing one with our traditional way of thinking IT. Looking at cost pressure, the need for real-time communication, worldwide collaboration and continuously changing business processes we see some of the challenges that the cloud can help us handle very well. The same is true for improving time-to-market and the constant need for delivering innovations in a reasonable and beneficial way. So yes, the cloud services can deliver the answers.

There is no question of yes or no regarding cloud services – like there is no question that you must first get to the airport if you want to fly. If you want to be able to adapt flexibly to ever-changing challenges there simply is no better way than cloud services. Why? Because they are tailor-made to address many of the challenges CIOs and business leaders are facing today.

And while time is always of the essence, don’t let yourself be rushed. It is not a race to the clouds. It is a journey that requires careful planning and a scout who gets you safely from A to B with maybe some stops in between. A scout that leads the way and knows what is required. Like a tried-and-trusted taxi driver who knows the fast routes from your downtown hotel to your departure terminal.

He should help you optimize your existing assets, improve the technical conditions, make sure everything is secure and compliant. And, of course, he should also be your personal coach, limbering you up, improving your skills and focusing your mind on what is important. It is simply not advisable to force everything into the cloud all at once without proper planning – at least not all by yourself.

And what if you heed to my advice and find yourself stuck like me on my way to the CIO’s of Malaysia waiting for me in Waldorf? Believe me, even the worst traffic jam breaks up eventually. I may have been under pressure and my nerves may have been frayed but I did eventually get to the meeting. Sure, I was late, but that was the worst that happened. It was a great meeting and I would have been really sorry if I hadn’t traveled there at all.

Likewise, the cloud is a journey that is well worth to undertake. In order to avoid getting stuck in a traffic jam– the traffic jam of too much, too little or the wrong cloud – you need a partner you trust. And you need determination and a clear plan of what you want to achieve. So take it easy. There is a saying that patience is the sister of success. And another one about who wants to travel far must rise early. That wisdom applies to business strategy and IT projects like setting up a cloud strategy, too. My advice: Start immediately.  Do it flamboyantly. But seek advice by a good scout to get you there in time.

Sincerely,

Andre Kiehne

The highest degree of appreciation…

Congrats to an employee of a competitor of ours. Even before the promotional initiative for Fujitsu Global Cloud – our “Free Trial Program” – he detected the link to our landing page  www.global-cloud.ts.fujitsu.com and tried to register himself with his business mail account (xxx.yyy@competitor.com). Coming into play exactly at this stage is the difference between a Public Cloud offering and the Fujitsu Trusted Cloud approach (often referred to Virtual Private Cloud). The latter requires a proper registration process – and so do we. As he gave all the details required, we decided to call as the easiest way to get in touch. Talking to him we found out that he was really impressed about our free trial offer, where the customer can configure his virtual data center infrastructure the easiest way (through our portal) and test it for 30 days, free of charge. He wondered that we do not necessarily require a cancellation after that testing period has ended and that the customers will only get charged if they continue to use their infrastructure, otherwise no bills occur.
So bottom line:  Looks like the competitor eyes are all on us, and isn’t that the highest degree of appreciation?