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Selling File Storage and Sharing Options in the Era of Free Cloud Storage

Selling File Storage and Sharing Options in the Era of Free Cloud Storage

Offering file storage and sharing services to companies with so many free products on the market is challenging. While you know the importance of managed services, file storage and sharing, and cloud computing products, it can be a tough sale in a world that offers similar products for free. There are strategies for selling your managed services offerings however, and your business can thrive while doing so. Here’s how:

The Problem with the Free Cloud

Users turn to services offered by Google, Dropbox, and OneDrive. While they are useful for saving and sharing personal data, emails, and documents, they pose a significant risk to businesses large and small.

The problems with free cloud services are numerous. Just a handful of concerns with free cloud storage include file size limits, bandwidth limitations, a lack of security, and scattered customer support services.

While free cloud storage is generally okay for personal files and sharing documents with families, it shouldn’t be relied on for business transactions. The primary problem with free cloud storage for businesses is the false sense of confidence business owners and essential personnel have in such products and the security of the information stored in them. If the business is dealing with confidential or sensitive data they should absolutely not rely on free cloud storage options – but many decision makers are unaware of the security concerns. This presents a business opportunity for the managed services provider.

One thing that keeps stalling your sales when speaking with clients is simple – MONEY. Business owners may not understand the value of paying for cloud-based data storage and sharing solutions when they can use a variety of cloud storage and sharing options for free.

When you start talking cost, they start pulling away for a number of reasons:

  • Others offer cloud storage for free
  • Set-up costs concern owners
  • Price fluctuation in the past prevents confidence in new products and services
  • Poor data management has had a financial impact on the company

3 Ways to Overcome the Money Talk

As you can see, money to a company is more than the price of the products and services. For some, it has had a significant impact on operations overall. When money stalls the conversation, these 3 strategies will help you recover the sale.

1.   Keep talking about the money

This is a matter of redirecting from the negative conversation about money and shifting it to a positive one. Use the negative experiences of the past to ensure the company can see positive results, without tarnishing its reputation. Demonstrate the financial problems associated with a data breach when sensitive information is stored in unsecure, free cloud storage solutions – so that you can show that your solutions, while not free, save the business from such disasters.

 

When pricing and positioning cloud services, consider the efficiency of your managed services and what it is you really offer in the eyes of the business owner.  Five factors that affect the bottom-line price are your company’s business model, what you offer, what the cost of delivery is, sales, and how efficiently you can honestly deliver services. Compare that price to what is offered in the market. Position yourself so that you are competitive, yet attractive. This is the price you want to tell the customer to ease their anxieties about higher prices, especially if you can offer more than they are used to.  If you are talking about file sharing and storage options, don’t forget to show your potential customer all of the other services you can offer to go along with it, including data backup and disaster recovery. Paint a picture of the complete package of services you are offering and how it benefits the customer.

2.   Get off the tech talk

Take a step away from the tech talk for a moment when meeting with clients. If you talk at them with convoluted conversation, you will lose the client and the sale. Keep it simple. Stop talking about what you offer and all the specific, technical features that only you and experienced IT managers understand. Business owners don’t particularly care about all that. When selling any form of managed services, talk about the client’s technology, how to make them more efficient and profitable, and their security needs. Next, translate that into how your services address those concerns.

 

After talking about the customer’s comprehensive needs for technology solutions, it is important again to point out how personal and free cloud storage and sharing options are not equipped to handle their security concerns. Focus on the end result for the client instead of listing all the tech and services you offer. They present a problem, and you need to offer a solution. That’s it.

3.   Spend as much time on sales

Now that you have spelled out all the services and technology you offer to successfully close the deal, it’s time to move on to the next managed services agreement, right? Or is it? How much time are you putting into sales and the customer experience? Are they top priority for your managed services company? They should be, and should be treated just like any other service you add to your menu.

You upgrade technology, find the best products, and hire the best people, but how do you get it in front of potential clients if you don’t spend time and resources on sales. Free cloud storage service providers have excellent marketing strategies, and you need to break in with yours as well. We help managed services providers with website solutions that help you sell your solutions and explain your services in terms of benefits to your customers. Learn more here: www.spc-intl.com/store

 

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The Business Case for Cloud Computing Services

The Business Case for Cloud Computing Services

In this article, you will find information to help you understand the benefits of adopting Cloud Computing Services into your deliverables. Business growth is fueled by creativity and innovation – offering cloud computing services is a way to meet the needs of your clients and stay competitive.

Why is Cloud Computing So Hot?

Gartner Inc., one of the leading information technology research and advisory companies, describes Cloud Computing in their Hype Cycle Special Report of 2009 as:

“…the latest super-hyped concept in IT. Although cloud computing is about a very simple idea – consuming and/or delivering services from “the cloud”, there are many issues regarding types of cloud computing and scope of deployment that make the details not nearly so simple.”

As a result of the tremendous interest in the Cloud by end user customers and providers of Cloud Computing services, Gartner has included it in their Gartner Hype Cycle analysis.

 

Gartner Hype Cycle of Innovation

cloud computing

Since 1995, Gartner has used Hype Cycles to characterize the over-enthusiasm, or “hype” and subsequent disappointment that typically happens with the introduction of new technologies. However; Hype Cycles also show how and when technologies move beyond the hype, offer practical benefits and become widely accepted.

In Gartner’s Hype Cycle Special Report for 2009, Cloud Computing was identified at the Peak of Inflated Expectations phase of the Hype Cycle, having surpassed the Innovation Trigger phase, the event that generates significant press and interest, building through the Positive Hype to reach its peak. According to Gartner’s Hype Cycle, the next phase that Cloud Computing will experience is the Trough of Disillusionment prior to attaining the Slope of Enlightenment and Plateau of Productivity, where the benefits of the technology become widely demonstrated and accepted. Cloud Computing’s position on Gartner’s Hype Cycle in 2009 forecast a two to five year timeline to reach mainstream adoption.

To put this in clearer perspective, Managed Services has been plotted in its current position on the Hype Cycle illustration – the Slope of Enlightenment, having already passed through the Trough of Disillusionment on the way to mainstream adoption on the Plateau of Productivity.

Based on their research, polling and surveys in 2008, Gartner made the following predictions regarding Cloud Computing:

  • By 2011, 90% of IT utility/infrastructure-as-a-service contracts will also include nontraditional service providers in the vendor evaluation phase
  • By 2011, early technology adopters will forgo capital expenditures and instead purchase 40% of their IT infrastructures as a service
  • By 2012, at least one-third of spending on business application software will be as a service subscription instead of as a product license
  • Cloud computing heralds an evolution of business that is no less influential than e-business

Gartner posits that Cloud computing will be a catalyst to a new way of consuming IT services by customers, as evidenced by their assertion Cloud computing heralds an evolution of business that is no less influential than e-business.

These opinions by Gartner clearly position the adoption of Cloud Computing Solutions into an IT Solution or Managed Service Provider’s deliverables valuable to their business growth potential as well as their customers’ business needs.

What is Cloud Computing?

The National Institute of Standards and Technology; or NIST, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce founded in 1901 as the nation’s first federal physical science research laboratory; and whose mission is to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology, has developed the following working definition of Cloud Computing:

Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.

This cloud model promotes availability and is composed of five essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models.

The 5 Essential Characteristics of Cloud Computing[1]

The 5 essential characteristics of a Cloud Computing deliverable are:

  1. On-demand Self-Service – where a customer can unilaterally provision computing capabilities such as user access, server time and network storage as needed automatically without requiring human interaction with individual service providers.
  2. Broad Network Access – where capabilities are available over the network and accessed through standard mechanisms that promote use by heterogeneous thin or thick client platforms such as mobile phones, desktops, laptops and PDAs.
  3. Resource Pooling – where the provider’s computing resources are pooled to serve multiple customers in a multi-tenant model, with different physical and virtual resources dynamically assigned and reassigned according to demand. There is a sense of location independence in that the customer generally has no control or knowledge over the exact location of the provided resources but may be able to specify location at a higher level of abstraction such as a country, state, or datacenter. Examples of these pooled resources include storage, processing, memory, network bandwidth, and virtual machines.
  4. Rapid Elasticity – where capabilities can be rapidly and elastically provisioned; in some cases automatically, to quickly scale out and rapidly released to quickly scale in. To the customer, the capabilities available for provisioning often appear to be unlimited and can be purchased in any quantity at any time.
  5. Measured Service – where Cloud systems automatically control and optimize resource use by leveraging a metering capability at some level of abstraction appropriate to the type of service, such as storage, processing, bandwidth, and active user accounts. Resource usage can be monitored, controlled, and reported, providing transparency for both the provider and customer of the utilized service.

 Essential Characteristics

essential characteristics of cloud computing

The 3 Cloud Computing Service Models[2]

The 3 Service Models governing Cloud Computing deliverables consist of:

  1. Cloud Software as a Service, or SaaS – where the capability provided to the customer is to use the provider’s applications running on a cloud infrastructure. The applications; such as web-based email and office productivity applications, are accessible from various client devices through a thin client interface such as a web browser. The customer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure including network, servers, operating systems, storage, or even individual application capabilities, with the possible exception of limited customer-specific application configuration settings.
  2. Cloud Platform as a Service, or PaaS – where the capability provided to the customer is to deploy onto the cloud infrastructure customer-created or acquired applications created using programming languages and tools supported by the provider. The customer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure including network, servers, operating systems, or storage, but has control over the deployed applications and possibly application hosting environment configurations.
  3. Cloud Infrastructure as a Service, or IaaS – where the capability provided to the customer is to provision processing, storage, networks, and other fundamental computing resources where the customer is able to deploy and run arbitrary software, which can include operating systems and applications. The customer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure but has control over operating systems, storage, deployed applications, and possibly limited control of select networking components such as firewalls.

To be considered “Cloud”, Services must be deployed on top of Cloud Infrastructure that has the (5) key characteristics mentioned previously.

3 Service Models

cloud computing service models

Cloud Service Examples

Cloud Software as a Service solutions deliver software over the Internet and eliminate the need for customers to install and run these applications on their local devices, simplifying maintenance and support. Examples of Cloud Software as a Service deliverables include hosted application software such as Word Processor, Spreadsheet and Email applications, as well as Social Networking and Photo and Video sharing solutions and hosted PSA and RMM solutions.

Cloud Platform as a Service deliverables include computing platforms and/or solution stacks, often consuming cloud infrastructures and sustaining cloud applications such as Windows Azure, Google AppEngine and Force.com. These types of deliverables facilitate the deployment of applications for customers and eliminate the need, cost and complexity of buying and managing underlying hardware and software layers.

Cloud Infrastructure as a Service delivers computing infrastructure; generally as virtualized environments, where all infrastructure such as servers, software, network equipment, data center space, storage and firewalls can be delivered to customers as a fully outsourced service. Solutions delivered by Rackspace, Amazon Web Services and GoGrid provide customers these types of services.

Examples of the 3 Cloud Services

cloud applications

Cloud Service Model Architectures

The Cloud Computing paradigm enables the development and maintenance of a framework that supports Software as a Service, Platform as a Service and Infrastructure as a Service as individual, or multiple services hosted or nested in specific combinations. The illustration below demonstrates each of the infrastructures in green hosting a single service – a Software as a Service solution, a Platform as a Service solution, or an Infrastructure as a Service solution all hosted within their own individual Cloud Infrastructures. These services are not developed by the customer, but rather delivered by the Cloud Services provider.

The yellow Cloud Infrastructure exhibits the ability to host one or many Platforms as a Service within the same Cloud Infrastructure as a Service. Similarly, the blue Cloud Infrastructure represents the ability to host one or many Software as a Service solutions within a Platform as a Service solution.

The red Cloud Infrastructure demonstrates the ability to host one or many Software services within Platform services, and again within Infrastructure services.

Service Model Architectures

cloud computing service model architectures

The 4 Cloud Computing Services Deployment Models[3]

Cloud Computing solutions are deployed in one of 4 models:

  1. A Private Cloud – where the cloud infrastructure is operated solely for an organization. It may be managed by the organization or a third party and may exist on-premise or off-premise.
  2. A Community Cloud – where the cloud infrastructure is shared by several organizations and supports a specific community that has shared concerns such as mission, security requirements, policy, and compliance considerations. It may be managed by the organizations or a third party and may exist on-premise or off-premise.
  3. A Public Cloud – where the cloud infrastructure is made available to the general public or a large industry group and is owned by an organization selling cloud services.
  4. A Hybrid Cloud – where the cloud infrastructure is composed of two or more clouds; such as a private cloud and a community or public cloud, that remain unique entities but are bound together by standardized or proprietary technology that enables data and application portability such as cloud bursting for load-balancing between clouds.

types of cloud

Common Characteristics of Cloud Computing Services

When marketing cloud computing services, you’ll want to talk about the characteristics and how they can be leveraged to improve your client’s businesses. Cloud Computing solutions are built to leverage characteristics valuable to customers and service providers alike, including resilience and elasticity; allowing the ability to contract, scale or burst to meet growing or shrinking demand, providing a low barrier to entry from a cost perspective; and of significant interest to many customers – the ability to realize tax benefits as they are able to claim more of their traditional capital expenditure costs as operating expenses for tax purposes.

 

Cloud Computing Characteristics

cloud computing characteristics

Software as a Service Benefits

Software as a Service customers polled responded that the reasons for their adoption of SaaS solutions included: [4]

  • Accelerated deployments
  • Subscription, pay-as-you-go model
  • Eliminated additional infrastructure costs
  • Allowed internal IT/application staff to focus on more strategic projects
  • Receive continuous updates/upgrades
  • Reduced risk of failed deployments
  • Additional functional capabilities

Software as a Service solutions also benefit the provider, by allowing rapid deployment, increased user adoption due to service availability through heterogeneous means, the reduction of support requirements due to patches, updates and upgrades being handled by upstream vendors, the improved flexibility of deployment (again a benefit of heterogeneity and elimination of the need to touch on-premise equipment), an annuity-based revenue model and low implementation costs as a result of physical labor and travel savings.

A Gartner survey of SaaS customers reveals that nearly all expect to maintain or grow their use of SaaS through 2010 – identifying another key benefit to SaaS providers.

Platform as a Service Benefits

Platform as a Service solutions benefit those customers who require a hosted environment that includes both a computing platform and a solution stack to support the complete lifecycle of building and delivering applications and services available entirely through the Internet, thus eliminating the need, cost and complexity of buying and managing the underlying hardware and software otherwise required for on-premise solutions.

There are 4 types of environments for Platform as a Service solutions:

  1. Add-on Platform as a Service development facilities allow the customization of existing Software as a Service applications.
  2. Stand-alone Platform as a Service environments are general development environments, and generally do not include technical, licensing or other dependencies on specific SaaS applications or web services.
  3. Application Delivery Only environments may lack development, debug and testing capabilities, providing only hosting-level services such as security and on-demand scalability.
  4. Open Platform as a Service offerings allow the developer unrestricted use of any programming language, database operating systems, etc. to develop in.

Platform as a Service offerings may include facilities for application design and development, testing, deployment and hosting; as well as application services such as team collaboration, web service integration and marshaling, database integration, security, scalability, storage, persistence, state management, application versioning, application instrumentation and developer community facilitation.

Infrastructure as a Service Benefits

Infrastructure as a Service solutions benefit those customers that require a hosted environment which includes a complete computing infrastructure to support their needs, and that is typically delivered via a virtualized environment that can host servers, software, network storage and backup and other network equipment and services such as firewalls and broadband services available entirely through the Internet.

Infrastructure as a Service offerings can include facilities for hosting any combination of both Platform and Software as a Service solutions and provide scalability, elasticity and security. With Platform as a Service offerings, while it is the provider’s responsibility to deliver and secure the infrastructure, the customer is normally responsible for securing everything hosted within it, including operating systems, applications and data.

How to Get Started with Cloud Computing

Getting started with Cloud Computing requires that the provider determine which of the 3 cloud computing models they will adopt into their solution stack, in what priority and time frame they will be adopted, and identify their target market for these deliverables. The provider will next need to engage with vendors and fulfillment partners for these deliverables; in order to formalize their offering and determine costs, in order to establish a pricing strategy prior to marketing their new cloud services.

Getting Started With Cloud Computing Services

cloud services delivery

The Business Case for Cloud Computing

The business case for Cloud Computing Services include their positioning and relatively short timeline to mainstream adoption according to Gartner’s Hype Cycle, the value these services provide to customers, and the extreme satisfaction rating for Cloud Services among them, along with their forecasted growth in the market.

Additional benefits to providers include the ease of sale, implementation and ongoing maintenance for these services, as well as their subscription pricing model that allows exponentially growing annuities to be realized over time as more and more customers are engaged for them.

 


 

[1]National Institute of Standards and Technology

[2]National Institute of Standards and Technology

[3]National Institute of Standards and Technology

[4] Cutter Consortium Business & Technology Trends & Impacts Advisory Service Executive Update Vol.8, No. 22

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