Which cloud expert do you need?

Jul 8, 2016

“Set them free at the break of dawn, ’til one by one, they were gone.
Back at base, bugs in the software. Flash the message, something’s out there.
Floating in the summer sky. 99 red balloons go by.”

— 99 Red Balloons (Cover), version by Goldfinger


What comes to mind when you hear the words “cloud expert”? I suspect that what you envision, what I expect, and what some technology companies hope you will think, are all very different things.

The term “cloud expert” is popping up everywhere. However, there is really no definition for what that means. What exactly is the expertise? How do you tell one “expert” from another? In a sky of 99 red balloons, and more being floated every day, which one do you pick?

It is important to look at cloud strategically. It is not for everyone. The first thing, then, is not what someone out there means by cloud expertise… it’s what you mean by cloud for you and your business.

Are you looking just at a cloud “starter kit” of mail, calendars and contacts? Do you need a specific cloud-based solution for disaster recovery? Or are you looking to the cloud to run high end or industry-specific applications?

Once you know that, the “cloud expert” you need should have expertise in that particular aspect of cloud computing gained through years of learning and working with cloud every day. They should bring to the table recognized relationships and partnerships with established cloud providers like Microsoft or Google. They should also have the business experience to understand how all this technology will affect your business on a strategic level.

So you have decided to start your cloud journey. How do you find what you need?

Start with the basics

If you’re just starting out with your research into the cloud, here are some past articles that can give you the start you need:

Personal Cloud vs SMB Cloud vs Enterprise level Cloud

Yes, there is a difference.

Personal Cloud

Perhaps the best known example of personal cloud is Dropbox. For people who may not be familiar with their service, it is a cloud-based service that makes it very easy to keep files synchronized between different devices and also share them with others. There is also a business version of Dropbox but most people know Dropbox from personal use.

Knowing about personal cloud services does not a cloud expert make. The fact that I am a very experienced driver and can change my own oil and tires, does not mean I am qualified to select and maintain a fleet of delivery trucks. Although it may not appear that different on screen for the average computer user, personal is not the same as business.

SMB Cloud

Most SMBs are on a public cloud system, such as Google Drive and Microsoft Office 365. For startups and small- & medium-sized businesses, one of the attractions of going to cloud is cost savings and public cloud is the less expensive cloud option. In fact, smaller businesses are adopting the cloud faster than larger ones.

Among businesses with fewer than 20 employees, 68 percent report having adopted the cloud in some way, with six percent saying they plan to so within six months. Contrast that with the adoption rate of businesses with 500 to 1000 employees — only 53 percent report cloud adoption. It’s clear that the smallest companies are leading the charge.” – venturebeat.com

Among the many benefits for SMBs, cloud limits the need for the in-house IT person, expensive capital expenditures and hardware upgrades, and huge server rooms.

Enterprise-level Cloud

We’ve touched on this topic in previous blogs (please see Companies are going cloud in a big way and Hybrid Cloud Is Transforming Enterprise-Level Business), but enterprise-level cloud computing is where cloud can become a competitive advantage at a very strategic level. It turns technology costs into a monthly operational expense. In a lot of cases costs can be reduced because they are tied directly to usage –pay only for what you use, with instant scalability.

Risk is reduced by having no upfront capital expense and new projects can be scaled up instantly should something really take off, or shut down should a strategy fail – this can be done in massive quantities satisfying the large enterprise need.

Another consideration is private cloud systems, that are more likely to be used in enterprise-level business. Private cloud is a type of cloud computing that delivers similar advantages to public cloud, including scalability and self-service, but through proprietary hardware and architecture. Unlike public cloud, which delivers services to multiple organizations, a private cloud is dedicated to a single organization. Enterprises with high security information will go this cloud computing route for their needs.

The cloud expert you are looking for is a specialist.

A real cloud expert will be a specialist.

This is important, as they will be answering your questions and asking you equally probing question about things you probably haven’t considered. They will look at the category you fit in, and tell you if they might not be a fit for you. If you are talking to a technical provider that really only puts in SMB cloud solutions and you are an enterprise level business, they should recognize that the relationship may not work.

Ask about other clients they work with that may be the same size, or have similar product need as you. Check their references, both the ones they give you as well as reviews online. Look for someone who will provide solutions to your specific challenges. A real cloud expert will tell you what is possible and will not be afraid to tell you what is not. Ultimately what you need to do is find yourself the one cloud expert that stands out for your specific needs.

In a sky full of balloons, look for the one blue balloon you need and let those other 99 red balloons go by.

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