Predictions 2012 – The Power of the Systems Integrator
2011 marked a significant year for cloud computing. More companies realized the efficiency benefits of moving to the cloud, and it became abundantly clear that this is no passing trend. In fact, with half of Gartner’s top predictions for IT organizations and users for 2012 and beyond centered on the cloud, it’s certain that next year will be another critical year for the cloud movement. Now that we are confident the cloud is here to stay, what will it take for businesses that haven’t yet realized the value, or lack the knowledge and skills, to make the move?
Although traditional, big-name IT providers offer public clouds and have assisted companies in transitioning, it is time for a more focused group to gain momentum in cloud deployment, giving companies a more individualized solution that works for them. While transitioning to the cloud shouldn’t be a burdensome task, it takes a particular skill set, just like other IT initiatives. System integrators (SIs), or companies that specialize in putting together subsystems into a whole and ensuring they work together, are the preferred ICT supplier for many organizations already but lack experience in the cloud specifically. Because of their deep experience in infrastructure optimization and the trust they have established with organizations, they are in a prime position to become the real cloud migrations agents in 2012 and enable significant uptake in the cloud. However, before they can become these cloud migration agents, it is crucial for SIs to gain more experience in cloud computing. This will combine their ability to specialize and focus with relevant cloud skillsets and make them the most highly-equipped group to be cloud migrations agents.
One area of expertise that is already working to their advantage is their experience with delivery off virtualization projects. Because virtualization is essentially the first step to the cloud, these projects have provided SIs with the early experience to enhance their work in the cloud. Along with that, SIs are known for their personalized customer service and tailored service-level agreements (SLAs), which many public cloud providers simply can’t offer. While some organizations may believe the well-known IT vendors are the right companies to help them transition to the cloud, this may not be the case as their offering only addresses a certain piece of the puzzle. They may not be the answer for organizations migrating their legacy IT environment to the cloud, as they are more of a one-size-fits-all solution. Forrester said that while many of the traditional enterprise IT vendors like HP and Microsoft have launched cloud services, few of them are “robust” enough to host organization’s critical applications and data, or are true clouds. SIs have the ability to work with smaller providers that are able to offer a more complete, tailored solution.
The good news for SIs is, they’re likely already working with organizations that will be targeting a move to the cloud next year. Those businesses may be unsure of how to get there, or perhaps believe there are some barriers, but they have already worked with SIs they trust and who can help them overcome challenges, such as security concerns, regulatory concerns, or vendor lock-in. In fact, a LinkedIn survey of more than 7,000 IT professionals found that 54 percent of respondents cite security as their top concern for transitioning to the cloud. Additionally, for SIs that would like to offer cloud services but may not be ready build and roll their own cloud services, they can test the cloud in a data center testing lab environment, which allows them to develop cloud services before fully transitioning their customers to the cloud.
2012 is shaping up to be an important year for the IT industry, especially with regards to cloud computing, and SIs have the potential to spearhead the cloud migration for organizations looking to benefit from the opportunity this new technology provides. With their vast experience, flexibility and long-standing relationships, they have just the right mix to be the up-and-coming leaders of cloud computing.
This article was published on VMblog in December 2011 as part of a serie on what Virtualization and Cloud executives think about 2012. My prediction continuous to be relevant for 2013. Cloud service providers can learn a lot from systems integrators and how they provide expertise and high level services to their customers.