Why I focus on cloud providers and brokers

About two years ago I decided to focus on cloud computing training. Having developed the content for CompTIA Cloud Essentials, it only seemed natural to deliver the training too. It also allowed me to address a bigger audience with a more focused offering. Though I liked being a consultant on digital infrastructures a lot, it was frustrating to see how little impact I actually was having.

These two years have been quite rewarding in a number of ways.  I have travelled the world to deliver training, meeting lots of interesting people, and it also felt good to be able to focus on a specific body of knowledge and the best way to deliver it. At the same time, my portfolio is deepening into cloud security, risk management, governance and compliance.

However, right now I have come to a point where I need more focus still. Cloud computing has become such a big field, and is expanding so rapidly, that it is encompassing all IT as we know it. This is not bad. Similar disruption has been caused by the PC and the Internet.

To illustrate this point we can take a high level view of where servers are being deployed. Last year Intel reported that three big server manufacturers no longer account for 75% of their turnover in server processors (Intel confirms decline of server giants) . The new kids on the block are the cloud providers. Google in itself is the 5th largest server manufacturer in the world, and they don’t sell servers. They use them exclusively for their own cloud business. Similar activity is in the rest of the top 10.

This only goes to show that IT spend is shifting from buying boxes to renting them. This will have a profound impact on the industry. Servers until recently were deployed at client sites. They will largely move to cloud provider data centers. Cloud providers however are a diverse lot. Though Amazon, Google and Microsoft run millions of servers in their public clouds, there is a big market for midsize private cloud providers, running thousands of servers each. Next to that we see cloud resellers or cloud brokers appear who don’t necessarily own infrastructure, though they might own a lot of software assets. Included in that category are the incarnations of software publishers, who are shifting from selling software licenses to software services. Think, but also Microsoft and a ton of smaller software providers. The smaller ones will find it more economical and reliable to run on infrastructure provided by specialist cloud providers.

My strengths are not in helping small companies with their business IT. These people should not manage technology; they should manage business data and processes. They need help in setting up their financial systems, CRM and similar business functions. That is best done with industry specific expertise.

My strength, I think, is in helping people make better use of the opportunities and risks associated with information technology, improving their service and bottom line. The biggest changes in that area are experienced by cloud providers, who are leading these changes, and IT departments, upon whom change will be forced. The successful IT department will start to act as a cloud broker, integrating and managing services provisioned from multiple external cloud providers. In a sense they will act as an internal cloud provider to the company. So there you have it: my focus is on cloud providers, including professional cloud consumers.

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