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Cloud strategy: Power of the people

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It was almost 2 years ago I wrote this blog post concerning the importance of having a complete cloud strategy, and thinking about how cloud can help transform business—not just your data center.  At that time, I had met with too many IT folks that were bemoaning their implementation of “virtualization” and how failure to act strategically in their push to virtualize had created almost as many problems as it had solved (image management, administrative costs, additional software costs, etc).  In the post, I went on to talk about the options that IBM presented and how IBM allowed for a very flexible cloud strategy.

Fast forward to yesterday, when I realized I had left an important aspect out of that earlier post—the importance of experience and skills in helping craft a cloud strategy.  .

Despite the notion of all cloud services as “plug and play,” in reality, implementing major cloud deals—like ones in government, financial or telecommunications firms, for instance—requires real vertical industry expertise and skilled technology service professionals. Unlike when consumers buy cloud services, it’s not “all automated”—far from it.

Experience and scale matter when you’re working with big enterprises and the US Federal government. Much like the cloud at the core of the issue here, your business also needs to be able to scale quickly with talent.

This realization came when I was reading a recent IBM press release analyzing cloud professional services, and there was a quote in there from IDC analyst Gard Little. He said (about IBM), “To reach a leadership cloud position requires innovative solutions, a long list of client wins, research and innovation, industry expertise, global investments and a focus on helping clients transform their business with cloud technology.”  In one sentence, he captured all the elements that a cloud technology provider should have, beyond just the technology.

The press release gives examples of what Gard was talking about:

  • Innovative solutions – IBM has over 100 cloud-based solutions that leverage the cloud delivery model to address real business challenges
  • Long list of client wins – IBM has over 5,000 engagements to date
  • Research and innovation – IBM has the leading research division in the industry that contributes mightily to our cloud solutions and client engagements
  • Industry expertise – IBM helps clients across all industries such as banking, communications, healthcare and government
  • Global investments – IBM has 10 global delivery centers across 5 continents

But the most important example is “helping clients transform their business with cloud technology.” From the beginning of the “Cloud Era” (say, 2007), IBM has looked at the cloud delivery model as not just a way to transform IT but to transform companies. Sinc then, IBM has been rapidly building a highly skilled cloud team. It has acquired 6,000 employees with cloud expertise and has 37,000 cloud experts in the Sales and Distribution organization alone.  Combined with the financial investments of  $19 billion in organic R&D and $12 billion in acquisitions between 2010 and 2012, IBM has unmatched resources in helping companies with their cloud strategy. Some cloud services companies aren’t even included in the report, and are scrambling to acquire skills talent.

The IBM portfolio I discussed in my earlier post gives a company flexibility and choice in defining their cloud strategy. Having the skills, expertise and industry knowledge of a professional services partner helps a company leverage that cloud strategy to bring about true business transformation.

You can follow me on Twitter @rictelford as I track a lot of the happenings in the world of SMAC, or just follow me here on “Thoughts on Cloud.”

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