The difference between cloud providers
The SLA is not the only element that differs between cloud providers. Security, reliability, bandwidth and community are also important.
Security: While there is little empirical evidence that security is better managed by a cloud provider, the systems integrator does offer added value, as a systems integrator can typically manage a multi-tenant cloud more efficiently. Some of that value comes from their choice of data centre partner, who will be responsible for physical protection of the facility.
Many systems integrators have existing security practices that can be used to improve security beyond that which a customer could achieve on their own. The systems integrator can also make sure that security between the cloud and the internal systems is part of the solution.
It is important that the systems integrator conforms to the best international security certifications. These make a significant statement about the commitment to protecting customer data. With regulators introducing ever tougher rules on data protection and privacy, systems integrators that deliver a highly secure cloud, will stand out from those who do not.
Reliability: A major reason for moving to cloud-based IT is to get a higher level of reliability. Access to disaster recovery and business continuity solutions are services the systems integrator can extend to cover existing customer solutions.
Bandwidth: A carrier-neutral data centre provides the systems integrator with partners capable of building a fault-tolerant, high bandwidth cloud. To help link customers’ existing data centres and cloud-based services, the systems integrator can sign agreements with carriers to provide leased lines. This increases performance, reduces latency, adds security and strengthens the SLA.
Community: It is more than possible for the systems integrator to build a successful business offering just IaaS, PaaS and SaaS. However, the business opportunities to evolve the existing systems integrator/enterprise IT relationship open up more possibilities.
Among these are community or specialist clouds where the systems integrator can focus on building solutions in their preferred area of expertise. Examples are health services, local government, accountancy and manufacturing. Building these focused clouds allows the systems integrators to show a migration path to the cloud and a value proposition for customers.
Services and specialist clouds will be a key battleground for cloud providers. By taking early decisions, systems integrators will be able to position them at the heart of this battle.
My paper “How to move to the cloud” is a useful guide to a successful migration to the cloud. It’s available to <a href="http://www.interxion.com/sectors/cloud/how-to-move-to-the-cloud" onclick="__gaTracker('send', 'event', 'outbound-article', 'http://www task manager.interxion.com/sectors/cloud/how-to-move-to-the-cloud’, ‘download here’);”>download here.