Don’t Fall Into the Cloud Price Trap
Businesses have no shortage of reasons to embrace cloud services, but price shouldn’t be one of them. So says MJ Shoer, president of Jenaly Technology Group, a Portsmouth, New Hampshire-based provider of managed services and cloud solutions.
“If price is the primary driver, we are coming at the conversation from the wrong place,” Shoer says. An overemphasis on cost, he argues, forces you to either reduce capability to meet price requirements or deploy a solution that falls short of meeting business needs.
Either way, the outcome is undesirable. Providers instead need to work with customers to assess their business needs and come up with the most suitable solutions. This typically costs the customer more but provides tangible benefits such as business continuity.
If providers do a good job of explaining the benefits, price becomes a non-issue. “Once you have the conversation with the customer, they start to get it. They understand it. I’ve never seen them get disappointed,” Shoer says.
Sticking with Microsoft
Jenaly started offering cloud services a decade ago. That was before solutions such as perimeter spam filtering were considered “cloud,” even though they were delivered essentially as cloud services, Shoer says.
Two years ago, after toying with private-label options to widen its palette of cloud solutions, Jenaly opted to standardize on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform and Office 365. The company also offers hosted servers and solutions built on Amazon Web Services.
It just so happened that as Jenaly was looking to expand its cloud offerings, Microsoft’s solutions were coming into their own. “We like the private-label options, but at the end of the day we’ve always been a Microsoft partner, and there’s a lot of value to having that relationship. Microsoft may not get it right the first time, but when they settle in, they have a rock-solid offering.”
Partnering with Microsoft, Shoer says, means you don’t have to worry about the infrastructure or wonder what’s going to happen if something goes wrong. “It’s like having the FDIC behind the bank. It gives you a level of comfort you’re not going to deliver by yourself with your own homegrown solution.”
Still a Buzzword
Despite the value and benefits of cloud services, Shoer says “cloud” is still too much of a buzzword that confuses people. Customers are bombarded with marketing by vendors and encouraged by trade associations to adopt the cloud. Still, they often are fuzzy on what the cloud provides or how it can help them.
This can lead to unwise decisions, such as deploying too many cloud services, such as hosted email, CRM, databases and other applications, without implementing well-defined policies to manage the solutions and control access.
“Suddenly, they are managing passwords in a dozen places, and it becomes a nightmare,” he says. Especially for companies with high turnover, the situation can lead to data loss and security breaches.
Customers still need to be educated on the cloud, Shoer says. Given the right information, customers might decide they don’t need to move all their computing assets to the cloud. They might conclude that hosted email and backup and recovery make sense to run in the cloud while keeping other assets on premise.
It’s a conclusion they often can’t reach on their own in light of the constant barrage of marketing pushing them to the cloud because it’s the cheapest way to go. “The marketing message is you can do all this in the cloud for peanuts. But the reality is what you get for peanuts is peanuts,” Shoer says.
And as an MSP and cloud provider, you could keep serving peanuts, but that ultimately will not satisfy your customers.
Pedro Pereira is Massachusetts-based freelance writer with two decades of experience covering and analyzing the IT channel and technology. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.