In a recent study of B2B marketers by BtoB Magazine, 59% of those
surveyed answered that online lead generation is their biggest marketing
challenge. While email is their number one source of online leads, only
13% of respondents reported that social media was their greatest driver
The survey broke out marketers from agency professionals, which
yields a bleaker picture. 18% of agency respondents are getting more
leads from social media than other sources, while only 11% of marketers
are. The study also found that only 5% felt that social media was a
mature and well-optimized part of their marketing mix. 55% of those
surveyed revealed that they were in the early stages of social media,
and 14% of B2B companies were not using social media at all.
Does this survey seem in line with your experience of social media to
drive leads and become fully integrated in your B2B company’s marketing
59% of B2B Marketers Find Driving Leads Online Their Biggest Challenge
57% of B2B Marketers Get More Leads from Email Than Any Online Other Source
20% of B2B Marketers Get More Leads from Paid Search Than Any Other Online Source
13% of B2B Marketers Get More Leads from Social Media Than Any Other Online Source
5% of B2B Companies Have Optimized Social Media into their Marketing Mix
55% of B2B Companies are in the Early Stages of Social Media Marketing
14% of B2B Companies are not using Social Media Marketing
Inside View created this awesome infographic that gathers together many
statistics, ideas and examples about using social media to help drive
leads and sales for B2B companies. You can look through the stats
yourself, but here are some to consider:
- 61% of US Marketers Use Social Media to Increase Lead Gen
- IBM saw an Increase of 400% in Sales in a Social Selling Pilot Program
- 55% of Buyers Search for Information on Social Media
- 75% of Buyers Likely to Use Social Media in the Purchase Process
B2B social media is about connecting with prospects and customers,
providing value to their business and tracking those interactions to
leads and sales.
One of the beautiful things about digital B2B marketing is the
ability to attribute behavior and engagement for prospects across a
variety of channels that may be included in our marketing mix. Where
things get a bit sticky is determining how attribution figures into
revenue generation. For a simple transactional sale, this may be easier
as sales cycles are shorter and less clicks are usually required. But,
for a complex sale, attribution becomes a bigger challenge.
The mandate for B2B marketers today is to prove that their online
marketing programs are contributing to downstream revenues. Determining
how attribution is used can vary those results by quite a bit.
Take the example that Adobe uncovered in their recent report. The difference for retail companies that applied first-click
attribution over last-click attribution is 88% higher using fist-click.
The report contends that social media is used earlier in the buy cycle
to generate awareness and engagement and that applying the credit to
whatever the shopper clicks on last, right before purchase, discounts
the role social media plays in driving revenues.
This is a great example to start with. Sure, retail is more
transactional in the example, but if you think about the number of
clicks involved in a complex B2B marketing-to-sales process, using
either first or last click to determine ROI will definitely reduce the
value of a lot of elements in play during the buyer's journey.
This is why a content marketing strategy is so important. It's also why technology and analytics are so darn valuable.
Think about your marketing mix for a minute. Let's say you are using
the following geared to address the priorities of a specific target
- Nurturing programs (series of emails with links to content assets mapped to stages of the buy cycle)
- White papers
- ROI Calculator
If the prevailing trend is for a buyer to either visit the demo or
the calculator prior to initiating contact with sales, it may be that
tools like those get more credit than they deserve when reporting on
Or, because registrations for webinars are directly attributable, it
may be thought that they payoff handsomely for lead generation when the
reality could be that without your Twitter promotion, your webinar
registration would have been 40% lower.
What's needed is to consider all of the conversion or transition
points for your marketing programs and measure ROI based on what they
are designed to accomplish in concert.
Every content asset and marketing mix element needs to have a goal
for a conversion within the buying journey that contributes to the
overall revenue generation process. The ability to string these
conversions together and show how each contributed to achieving the end
result determines the ROI of the strategy, not each individual component
as a standalone tactic.
Getting to this type of ROI analysis takes hard work, focus and
technology. But it's what makes the world of eMarketing and digital
strategy so dang compelling.
It all starts with shifting the way we've always thought about and done it in the past.
It’s very easy to talk about technology, big data, CRM platforms,
cloud computing and all that good stuff. But I believe that its time to
peel back the onion and start digging a little deeper.
Here are some key questions we should start to explore broken down by the familiar People, Process & Technology:
(1) People: Who is responsible internally to execute
and plan a social CRM program? Is it support, a community manager,
marketing and sales? What if an agency is managing a brand’s social
channels? How does that work? What kind of reporting is needed to
determine success? Who is responsible for analytics? How do you navigate
within an organization that is plagued with organizational silos (hate
that word, but they still do exist)? What are the best practices to
achieve buy in from other departments i.e. support, IT, operations,
etc.? What’s in it for these groups to a) participate b) invest budget
into a social CRM program c) invest time and resources supporting cross
functional teams and d) hire the right staff to do the job. Who owns the
customer experience? Is an owner even needed? How do you get “buy in”
from executive management? More importantly, how do get executive
management to begin to change their behaviors instead of just talking
(2) Process: What kind of processes are needed to
create and manage workflow? How do I create a customer support decision
tree? What about sales? Is there an opportunity to leverage social CRM
best practices for sales reps? If so, what’s the process for them to get
involved? Should there be a training program? If so, what does the
curriculum entail? What about crisis management? Whose responsibility is
it to create, manage and execute a crisis management protocol when the
time arises? Who is responsible for gathering all the data, analyzing
it, and then extracting “actionable” insights for the organization? And
more importantly, what is the process to ensure that those insights are
executed in order to close the loop?
(3) Technology: There are many different vendors in
the space, what’s the best technology for monitoring the conversation?
What about engagement (yes, engagement is important to social CRM)? Is
one, integrated tool more effective or are multiple tools okay to get
the job done? What are best practices for integrating the traditional
CRM platform with today’s tools? What about a real time command center?
Is that important and how does that work? Is that an operation that
needs to be manned 24/7? What about IT? Should they be involved in this
process? Who should pay for all this technology?
These are many questions that I hear from clients and people in the
space. Not just the decision makers but the folks on the front lines who
are managing and engaging in customer relationships day in and day out,
usually community managers. And by the way, many of these community
managers are jumping head first into these issues – learning, sometimes
making mistakes, adjusting their approach, etc. They are engaging, yes
engaging; creating workflows, managing vendors and working with
traditional CRM systems, managing analytics and more importantly many of
them are drivers of change in the organization.
Perhaps its time to move beyond social CRM as a topic or phrase.
And as I think more about it, all of the questions above latter up to
something much bigger – something more than just customer experience,
technology, CRM and community. It really is the shift and transformation
to a social business. And, it’s probably not a coincidence that the Social Business Strategy Summit is featuring mostly speakers from the CRM space. I am certain we will see a lot more of this in the future.
It’s no argument that social CRM is ONE component of the customer
& technology ecosystem. It’s ONE piece of the puzzle that
organizations need to put together in order to change the way they
communicate and engage with employees, partners, customers and even the
media. It’s just ONE attribute and proficiency needed to help companies
evolve into a social organization. Perhaps its time we move beyond
social CRM and focus on the bigger picture.
And much like social media was in the early days when it was an after
thought in most marketing organizations, research and experience proves
that it’s now an integral part of most marketing budgets, initiatives
and strategic imperatives.
I believe the same will happen with social business. Social business
initiatives will soon be generally accepted business practices like Six
Sigma, GAAP, ISO 9000, BPM, TQM, etc. It’s just a matter of time.
What do you think? Is this blasphemy?
The social customer has been gaining influence since the birth of the
Internet. Their daily journey is dynamic and they interact with a
variety of media & content in different ways (i.e. Twitter,
Facebook, RSS, mobile, search, etc.) As a result, they filter out the
noise (Twitter lists, circles, general attention, etc.) in an effort to
consume only the content that is relevant to them at a specific moment
in time. They are influential regardless of how many friends, fans and
followers they have. One minute they might love the brand and then next
minute they may hate the brand, depending on their experiences. We are
all social customers and they should be taken seriously – think Netflix, Verizon Wireless, Bank of America etc.
In response to the social customer, brands began (and still do) to
create channels in order to engage with them, many times without much
planning. Smart companies are trying to turn friends, fans and followers
into customer advocates. They do so by being human, authentic and
providing relevant content — the right content, at the right time, in the right channel to the right customer.
Why? Advocates affect the purchase funnel. Though organic conversations
(whether good or bad) they are aiding and influencing their own
micro-communities down the purchase funnel.
Many brands today are now realizing that there is chaos in the
organization thanks to social media. Unfortunately, many employees just
don’t know how to behave online and many are getting fired for posting
questionable content within their personal social media accounts. This
is because there are no policies, training and education in place. Also,
there is a confusion of roles & responsibilities – marketing wants
to own social media, PR wants to own social media and customer support
is wondering how they can get involved. There is zero internal
communication resulting in multiple social channels with no clear goals
or alignment. Everyone is measuring social media differently and yes,
organizational silos are alive and well.
Lastly, there needs to be value creation between the social customer,
the brand and the way it communicates, and the business by implementing
change in process, behavior; as well as product innovation. In a
- The social customer creates value (purchase, indirectly selling products via advocacy, product feedback)
- The social brand creates value by listening and engaging (relevant content, discounts, real conversations)
- The social business creates value by implementing change internally
A Case Study in Social Media Demographics
There is little doubt that social media is a big deal in today's world.
Adults and even children are starting to participate with the majority
of people online having some attachment to social media in one form or
As sites like Digg and Reddit progress while sites like Pinterest e
merge, there is one common player in everyone's discussion of social
media. Facebook users have an average of 130 friends now. It's clear
that our own expansion into social media is causing others to get
involved by default. Will this trend continue? Will social media be as
embedded into our lives 5 years from now as it is today?
Trends say yes, but history, particular on the internet, has proven that
the mighty can fall and new shiny bouncing balls emerge all the time to
replace the old ways. Will anyone ever beat Facebook?
(Source: Online MBA
. Via: Mashable
. Hat Tip: Automotive SEO
The fundamental reason for GBS's existence is to utilize data, software, and computing services to help GBS's clients deliver increased value to GBS's clients' clients at lower cost.
That function does not always mean simply supplying award-winning software and cloud computing services and products. A nuanced challenge exists in the shaded art and science of utilizing mountains of electronic data from sales, app activities, and user information to extract insights and identify opportunities for GBS's clients to improve their business. GBS offers services across three slices of the customer experience that do exactly that.
Sales Force Automation
Not all customers are created equal. For any business, an 'ideal customer' exists who is most likely to purchase the firm's products and return later for repeat business. GBS's sales force automation (SFA) products can help GBS's clients identify their ideal customer through the data, winnowing out which sorts of customers are likely to contribute the most revenue to the firm. In this way, marketing and sales techniques can be optimized to attract the 'ideal customer, once identified.' Furthermore, SFA services can help improve the customer experience by helping the client enable standard selling processes, helping establish brand across departments. Sharing sales data across entities in the client company is easy. The open access to sales information also streamlines the process of bringing new salespeople on board.
Group Business Software offered by GBS brings the sales and marketing departments at GBS's clients closer together to create and execute sales strategies aimed at the optimal potential customer. Potential customers are identified and brought into the company through an engineered process resulting in maximum sales, allowing brand to be managed with precise control. All services are fully supported by staff at GBS throughout the design and implementation process. The marketing contribution realized from the investment is easy to measure from the data management system.
Customer Service CRM
Every firm is in the customer service business. Using GBS's systems and insights, the routing of ticket loads and path is handled automatically in an environment fully compatible with Lotus and Domino Notes. Customer service agent load is balanced in a fair and sustainable manner, often yielding key insights as to the optimal workforce size. The system centralizes customer service requests and allows GBS's clients to easily diagnose bugs and resolve customer service issues.
GBS offers the capability for clients to run applications and conduct business in a cyber environment hosted by secure GBS machines. Clients can benefit from GBS's "IBM Bestseller" award winning system while enjoying GBS's maintenance and support services, freeing time from the concerns of managing a complicated data system. The remote data system, called the "cloud," allows multiple users to utilize apps and store information remotely from tremendously powerful computers located either at a GBS building or at the client's campus.
GBS customizes its cloud service to customers at a high level of detail, allowing clients to tailor an architecture in GBS's patent-pending Cloud Automation Protocol that best suits their needs. However, most clients find that one of two options is optimal: either utilize the existing cloud network that GBS has already built and reliably maintains 24/7, or build an entire new set of machines on site at a client's location. These two options, respectively, are called the public cloud and the corporate cloud.
While both provide the advantages of demand-driven use of resources (so that system time and computation is optimized) and support both Lotus and Domino applications, the difference between the public and corporate cloud lies in the extent to which new construction and server location is involved. Utilizing the public cloud, a small- to mid-sized company can tap into GBS's existing cloud infrastructure and deliver applications to clients, perform remote data storage and computation, and quickly communicate in the Lotus environment. Developing new customers and performing analysis to identify and describe key market phenomena is made easier through the wealth of performance data the public cloud provides in terms of usage, productivity, and cloud activity.
Larger clients have the option of utilizing the Corporate Cloud, which is a bigger investment involving the installation and construction of a custom-built cloud system for the individual user. The corporate cloud provides a tremendous advantage in license management to the user, as well as a pantheon of monitoring apps to allow reporting of activities and usage to a central location. Existing applications already in use by the client are automatically provisioned. The entire system is controlled from a central web-based control center.
With either the public or corporate cloud option, GBS can allow companies to perform any aspect of business in a more cost efficient and directed manner, directed by reliable application hosting and the insights that derive from fast and reliable access to behavioral data.
GBS has great potential upon company’s
Mergers & Acquisitions – We expect
to aggressively pursue acquisition opportunities to increase our suite of
products and functionality, augment our market execution ability through highly
educated professional service teams, and drive our growth potential among both
existing and future customer.
Market Penetration – Company also
focuses on continuing to grow our market share, not only in North American and
European market, the most highly penetrated lotus Notes market, but also in the
rising market of Asia.
Technological Innovation – The
increasing demand for information technology and the overall economy recovery give GBS great opportunity upon future growth. GBS’s continuous investment
on R&D ensures our leading position in this innovative industry.
GBS provides a multitude of varied products that can help improve
clients' ability to streamline virtually any business function under the
sun, from marketing and customer acquisition to internal personnel
management. The GBS products discussed in this post are software based, having no physical
existence. Rather, these programs and systems, in one way or another,
provide the language and instructions for business computers to help
GBS's clients do their jobs. Software-intensive products help people
communicate with each other by providing an environment in which to run
applications; they lay the groundwork that allows networks to function
securely, and they organize data in useful ways.
a fact that changing the software platform for an entire company can
truly be a nightmare. When changeovers occur employees are almost
always frustrated with the new system at first, provided the switch is
made with no system crashes or bugs... which can be an optimistic wish
to say the least. Because of the effort involved, many companies still
use legacy applications from the 1990s that run in the Domino
environment. The trouble ensues when the if the company decides to
update its application platform to Lotus, the most powerful and widely
used environment in the world, because the old Domino system is
incompatible with Lotus. Transformer 2.0 is a program that makes the
changeover process easier by taking in the old Domino applications and
transforming them into Lotus-compatible programs. In this way, a
company does not have to spend excessive amounts of capital on a
completely new set of applications for its updated Lotus system-- it can
simply transform what it already has into a new form (often with
modernized features) that works seamlessly in the new environment.
GBS IM Control!
IM Control! is an instant message system that employees can use to
communicate via computer. What sets IM Control! apart from other
instant message systems, apart from its natural operation in the Lotus
Sametime system, are the data analysis features that IM Control! offers
users. Productivity, activity level, topology, security, and chargeback
reports can all be generated and delivered though Sametime.
automatically converts documents sent from a company's email account
into secure PDFs, saving employees time by automating the PDF creation
process and eliminating mistakes in which editable documents are
issued. Documents created in this way are fully searchable and
guaranteed complaint with authorized user access protocols. Most
importantly, secure information cannot be edited by recipients down the
line, adding a layer of security to a company's data integrity.
email management system, named iQ Suite, offers highly secure email
services. The way that emails are encrypted and routed through the
system is highly robust and resilient to cyber attack, and maximizes
utilization of server resources. A large array of archival services are
available within the iQ Suite in which emails can be pre-sorted by the
system and stored and retrieved in such a way as the load on the sever
machines is minimized. However, the iQ Suite really shines in its
offering of productivity tools in which email signatures, automated
sensitive information checkpoints, and statistical/analytical services
are integrated into the email environment.
compliance programs for Occupational Saftey, Environmental Saftey and
Health, Enterprise Risk Management are a necessary part of any company.
In addition to reducing culpability points in a government
investigation should a mistake occur, compliance programs also help
prevent risk management issues from occurring. Fastworks is a software
product from GBS that handles corporate compliance programs for clients
the way an automated tax-filing program files taxes, making sure that
all details are addressed and that companies are fully compliant with
government regulations in ways that maximize safety and return on
investment for the company.
The following competitive advantages ensure GBS's industry leading position:
Our unique position as the industry innovator
Our talent, expertise and knowledge in system
We are the world’s largest supplier of IBM’s
Lotus market. Our ability to keep pace with IBM’s speed in developing new
solutions for the Lotus market. In addition, we are able to address all needs
from customers regarding your IBL Lotus environment.
Our global presence and multilingual support offering
compared to most competitors’ “single” solution focused.
Our capacity of top-end professional resources
to serve multiple long-term projects and our concentration on developing
long-term relationship with customers.
Information above obtained from GBS ENTERPRISES INCORPORATED annual report Mar 31, 2011.
Expertise for your needs – GBS has been one of the most experienced
and reliable companies in the system software industry. We employ a lot
investment in our R&D and service team in order to better deliver our
expertise to your company.
Maximize your IT investment – our suites of business applications
are proven to be cost efficient and can effectively improve the productivity of
Enterprise-wide continuous support – Our industry-leading products
and professional services support for the entire IBM Lotus environment that
enterprise organizations require.
Future Innovation– We are committed to leverage all our resources
to continue being the innovated leader in the IT software industry. We
guarantee that our innovative solutions will meet the changing business
requirements in the future.
All information above obtained via GBS Company Website. <http://www.gbs.com/en/whygroup>.
By Paul Krill | InfoWorld
Google today announced version 1 of its Go language, or Go 1 for short.
Downloadable at the Go website, the open source Go has been positioned as a general-purpose language suitable for uses ranging from application development to systems programming and offering such features as garbage collection and concurrency. It also is intended to be easy to program.
Go 1 is the first release supporting binary distributions, which are available in Linux, FreeBSD, Mac OS X, and Windows. The language also integrates with Google's App Engine cloud platform.
"The driving motivation for Go 1 is stability for its users. People who write Go 1 programs can be confident that those programs will continue to compile and run without change, in many environments, on a time scale of years. Similarly, authors who write books about Go 1 can be sure that their examples and explanations will be helpful to readers today and into the future," according to a post from Go team member Andrew Gerrand on the Go language blog.
Google also is striving for forward compatibility; version 1 is a representation of Go as it is used today and is not a major redesign, Gerrand said. But it introduces changes such as new types for Unicode characters and errors. The package hierarchy has been rearranged to group related items together.
"In its planning, we focused on cleaning up problems and inconsistencies and improving portability. There had long been many changes to Go that we had designed and prototyped but not released because they were backward-incompatible. Go 1 incorporates these changes, which provide significant improvements to the language and libraries but sometimes introduce incompatibilities for old programs. Fortunately, the go fix tool can automate much of the work needed to bring programs up to the Go 1 standard," Gerrand said.
The Go tool suite is being structured around the go command, which is a program for fetching, building, installing, and maintaining Go code. This command eliminates the need for Makefiles to write Go code. Go 1 also triggers a new release of Google App Engine SDK.
In envisioning Go, Google has sought to address what it sees as a need for faster software development and accommodating multicore chips. Go is intended to enable compiling of large programs in a few seconds on a single computer and provide a model for software construction making dependency analysis easy.
This article, "Google going forward with Go language," was originally published atInfoWorld.com.
By David Linthicum
What is it with data-transfer cloud computing performance? Some people think cloud services provide great performance, and some think they don't perform well at all. The reality is that both beliefs are true, depending on how you use cloud services and the cloud providers themselves.
There are a few basic, core patterns that define data-transfer performance:
- Enterprise to cloud
- Mobile to cloud
- Cloud to cloud
Enterprise-to-cloud seems to be where the problems exist. Information is transferred, typically over the open Internet, from servers in the enterprise to public cloud computing providers. If you've ever checked out the speed difference in downloading data from a remote website versus an intranet site, you already know what the issues are in this arena. As a rule, try to avoid transfer of large chunks of data from the enterprise to the public cloud computing provider.
Mobile-to-cloud is not that big of a deal in the larger scheme. Businesses don't like to store data on mobile devices (smartphones, tablets, netbooks, and so on), and they pretty much leave most of the data in the cloud. Only data required for an operation is typically transferred to the mobile device. Thus, data-transfer performance is usually not an issue. Come to think of it, it's not a bad model to replicate when using cloud systems in any pattern.
Finally, cloud-to-cloud can be either intracloud (such as within Amazon Web Services) or intercloud transfer of data (such as between AWS and Rackspace). Intracloud data-transfer performance is directly related to the size of the pipe within the cloud service, as well as to performance-enhancing services such as cache services that might be in use. Typically, intracloud data transfer is between tenants, virtual machines, or applications and data stores. The approaches and technology vary greatly, so you should run your own benchmarks to duplicate the scenario you plan to implement. (For more information on an actual benchmarks, check out "Amazon comes out on top in cloud data transfer speed test.")
Intercloud data transfer is even more complex, having to deal with cloud services that may not like each other exchanging data. Moreover, the open Internet is the typical mode of transport, so the same issues arise here as with cloud-to-enterprise. I suspect that cloud providers will get better at this in the future, for the sake of their mutual clients. For now, you need to model, model, model, and test, test, test.
By Ted Samson
Private cloud company Eucalyptus got a much-needed boost yesterday when public cloud giant Amazon announced it will support interoperability between Amazon Web Services and the startup's own open source platform.
Though the deal with Amazon should help increase Eucalyptus' enterprise appeal, it by no means guarantees the struggling company's success; rather, it ensures that the company will persevere a while longer in the face of competitive pressure -- particularly from rival open source, private cloud upstart OpenStack.
Eucalyptus' open source IaaS software is designed to give organizations a way to build their own elastic, highly available private clouds that are compliant with AWS clouds. The idea is to accommodate AWS customers who might decide particular workloads would be better run in a more secure, manageable private cloud environment. In practice, Eucalyptus has served mainly to allow projects incubated on Amazon Web Services to be brought in-house. Eucalyptus' goal has been to make that transition seamless, and Amazon clearly sees opportunity in ensuring this interoperability between its public cloud and these private clouds.
Amazon and Eucalyptus have been somewhat vague on the details of the agreement, such as whether Eucalyptus is paying fees for interoperability rights. What's clear is, the two haven't formed any deep, strategic alliance. Amazon won't hand over AWS code or any other intellectual property to Eucalyptus beyond the AWS APIs, a company spokesperson told The Register. The main benefit to Eucalyptus, then, seems to be the removal of a legal shadow that may have presented a hurdle to potential customers. Eucalyptus now has Amazon's blessing to use Amazon's APIs.
This pat on the head is hugely important to Eucalyptus' survival, but it doesn't give Eucalyptus much in the way of new guns to wield in its battle against OpenStack. Against OpenStack's fast-growing open source ecosystem and open APIs, Eucalyptus still offers a small community and proprietary APIs. It needs more from Amazon than approval, but perhaps Amazon's approval will lead to partnerships with other industry heavyweights.
Meanwhile, OpenStack continues to pose a serious threat to Eucalyptus. Co-created by Rackspace and NASA, the IaaS provider has backing from an impressive list of vendors, including Canonical, Cisco, Citrix, Dell, Intel, and Microsoft. Giants including AT&T, Internap, and Hewlett-Packard have announced or launched public clouds that use the OpenStack software. Moreover, OpenStack is a subsidiary of Rackspace and thus presumably has a tight relationship -- one that goes beyond simply sharing APIs to ensure OpenStack is interoperable with Rackspace's public cloud.
The big winner in all this ultimately could be Amazon. If the agreement with Eucalyptus works out, more customers might be lured to AWS with the knowledge that they would be able to move a workload into a compatible private cloud should the need arise. If Eucalyptus goes under, Amazon still sits pretty atop the heap of unmanaged cloud services, with the option to find other private cloud partners -- or reverse its decision to offer private cloud services itself.
This story, "Amazon deal alone can't save Eucalyptus from OpenStack," was originally published at InfoWorld.com.
By Doug Dineley | InfoWorld
"If you build it, they will come" may be a line from a baseball fantasy, but it describes what really happened in the world of cloud computing. One late summer day in 2006, online bookseller Amazon.com quietly made a portion of its excess data center capacity available to curious developers over the Web. Within hours, hundreds of developers had jumped at the chance to spin up some servers simply by opening their browsers and typing in their credit card numbers. Today, Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud is the foundation for countless tech startups, and Amazon counts its business customers in the hundreds of thousands.
If you're a CIO with a data center to run, that has to make you think. Assuming you're not ready to entrust your company's crown jewels to the public cloud, couldn't you satisfy IT requests faster internally by borrowing from the Amazon playbook? Standardize on commodity servers and storage. Connect them using a converged IP network infrastructure. Layer on virtualization to support resource pooling, isolated multitenancy, automated provisioning, and dynamic scaling and contraction. Provide a Web front end and workflow engine that allows your "customers" to serve themselves, and bill them each month for what they use.
Unlike Amazon, you don't need to develop your own cloud management software. VMware, Microsoft, the OpenStack open source project, and many others are building cloud-oriented automation and controls on top of today's virtualization platforms. Depending on the number and sophistication of your users, you may not need or want elaborate self-service and chargeback mechanisms. Your on-demand resource pool might exist only to serve other IT groups within the company, as a shared platform for batch processing or short-term projects or to allow your development and test teams to do their thing without burdening server, storage, and network admins.
Ultimately, "private cloud" is just a new name for the same old goals: Consolidate workloads on a shared infrastructure to increase utilization and lower costs, while taking increasing advantage of virtualization to respond more quickly to business needs. Someday, either through proprietary links or open APIs, your private cloud may integrate with one or more public clouds, allowing you to migrate or extend workloads in ways that make business sense. In the meantime, building a fast and flexible private cloud may be the only way to discourage the people you serve -- be they developers, marketing managers, or entire business units -- from taking their projects to Amazon EC2 or some other cloud they can open in their browsers.