Thinking Aloud in The #Cloud – Customer/Service Provider Bluriosity

By | August 22, 2013

I made up a word; bluriosity. I like it. It’s the blurring of concepts and terms that occurs when technology advances and smudges the clean and clear lines that used to exist.

The Cloud creates lots of bluriosity.

My latest musing came out of an informal conversation I recently had with a client about the change to them becoming a service provider.

A larger enterprise, they were pondering how their roles as “IT folks” were going to evolve as they were engaging in a project to deliver a private cloud deployment for on-going use as the application delivery platform within their organisation.

I had to walk a mile in their shoes to understand their quandary and some further questioning helped me to understand their position – they were used to “being the customer” (to partners, hardware and software vendors, systems integrators and the like) and were struggling to understand their new role as the “service provider” to their own internal and external customers.

It must be an interesting mental switch for corporate IT types (I have not been one as an employee so can’t really empathise with their position) to suddenly be SLA driven and tasked on outcomes (such as new systems or applications) as opposed to spending all of their time fire-fighting and thinking about infrastructure.

Coupling this switch to also becoming a client focused service provider makes for a noodle cooking mind bender for sure, especially as their Executive team had visions of them becoming a provider of services to external organisations (specifically their partners) as a commercial venture.

Amazon is the most obvious and well known example of a business that took the internal service provider approach and externalised it as a commercial offering. The headaches associated to traditional IT operations being “designed for capacity” coupling to the bursty nature of book and media sales meant they has capacity idling away when a new Harry Potter book or Star Wars DVD was not hot off the presses. Selling that capacity was an obvious next step – instantly taking Amazon from book seller to Cloud service provider.

What it boils down to in the Cloud is that somebody has to be the service provider and certain deployment models of the Cloud allows organisations with the size, budgets and skills to become service providers to both internal and (if they so desire) external clients, taking the oft used term of “customer” and making it literal.

This transition from serving a hitherto theoretical “internal customer” to actually serving customers was what was making them nervous about how their roles would evolve.

Would the nature of the relationship required with a paying customer create issues and bluriosity?

Who knows?

Rest assured, I’m definitely going to follow up in a while to see how they’re progressing.

more to follow…

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