I had a great chance to get super nerdtastic this past weekend with a woman at an insurance underwriting firm. Her job is to develop the insurance policies of senior management of large IT firms. When she found out I worked in and around cloud technology, it was her chance to ask about the oft described “cloud solution provider.” It gave me a chance to think about what that really means. What makes a company a “cloud solution provider”?
I look at it this way. There are companies that are, in essence, “cloud product providers,” and companies that are “cloud solution providers.” Maybe there are even a few flavors in between. But there’s a big difference?
For me, I think of it in the context of a math discussion. In math, every problem has a solution. You can’t give the solution without knowing the problem. One begets the other. A “cloud solution provider” digs to the core of your needs and develops the proper answer for your organization.
However, a “cloud product provider” works the other way, just the same as any other off-the-shelf product. Those firms have a product and you have to find the one that best (but probably not fully) meets your needs.
Therein lies the rub. IT in the cloud isn’t a one size fits all world. IT in the cloud isn’t even a two- or three-sizes-fits all. There needs to be a unique understanding of the problem before you can even get to the solution.
It’s important to draw that distinction among companies offering “cloud solutions”. Be sure to find one that takes the time to fully understand your needs before offering its solution. Cloud is a new and dynamic space, full of incredible opportunities. But it’s also full of potential speed bumps or worse from firms that are simply jumping on “cloud solutions” as a buzzword. Be sure to know what you’re dealing with and how that provider fits your roadmap. A “cloud product provider” probably won’t be able to help you move forward. They might not be able to work with you to develop a roadmap to gain efficiency and agility. They’ll get you a product and let you figure out the rest.
If you’re truly ready to leverage the cloud in a big way, or you’re just interested in dipping in your toe, it would behoove you to find that “cloud solution provider,” because that will be your best way forward.
But that’s how I see the “cloud solution” discussion. How about you? What makes a company a true “cloud solution provider”?