How To Sell Your CLOUD Services


Cloud vs. Captive

While selling cloud-based services and solutions, my clients always raise this question during solution workshops. They want to know the answer to the following basic queries:

  • Is your cloud solution best?
  • Is it a good time to move to the cloud?
  • What is the critical app landscape, which must stay on premise?
  • What about the security of data being exchanged?
  • Which option is more beneficial in the long run; cloud or on-premise growth?
  • What will happen to existing hardware and software?

And as a smart pre-sales expert, one has to get to know the possible answers to these queries.

Is your cloud solution best?

While responding to this question, keep in mind that you are requested to talk about additional benefits over and above the cloud services from your competition. For example, at that time, the key difference which MS Azure services had was per minute billing as compared to other cloud providers. Then, probably there were more functions and features available in the overall cloud dashboard as compared to others.

However, if you are still struggling to find more compelling reasons for why one should give MS Azure a chance, the answer could be because there are Cognitive APIs, Blockchain support, and ITAR (and other compliances) specific hosting services available in specific datacenters.

Is it a good time to move to the cloud?

Actually, moving to the cloud services makes more sense in one or more cases.

  1. Company server hardware is almost 5 years or older.
  2. Microsoft Office and Enterprise EA are about to end.
  3. Hosting services contract is about to be renewed/renegotiated.
  4. IT services contracts are to be renewed/renegotiated.
  5. Recent acquisition/merger with new entity with non-standard IT landscape.

Capture the details of the above scenarios and perform the CBA (cost-benefit analysis).

What is the critical app landscape, which must stay on premise?

Generally speaking, all the internal financial and critical enterprise applications must remain on premise. The movement to the cloud is a very informed decision and transition can be accomplished successfully by adopting the following approach.

  1. Categorize the application landscape by complexity, interfaces, and criticality.
  2. Move the Test and Development candidates first and measure the user experience.
  3. Work on issues related to access, security, compatibility, data storage, backup, and network.
  4. Next movement must include applications with medium complexity (Pre-production/UAT environments).
  5. Finally, take a call whether to move remaining highly critical applications to the cloud or to keep on small hardware footprint on premise. The general trend is to have a hybrid cloud landscape with on-premise to on cloud ratio as 20%:80%.
What about the security of data being exchanged?

Cloud services are as secure as running applications on-premise server hardware. Nowadays, depending on the need of any enterprise, cloud services providers offer different connectivity options,

  1. Over the internet / You need to have internet and you can connect to your virtual machines directly.
  2. Client to site VPN / You can pick this option if a small group of users requires connecting to the cloud servers securely.
  3. Dedicated VPN / This options is for enterprises having a large user base to consume the cloud services. The dedicated connectivity acts as a private channel between enterprises and the cloud service datacenter.

In addition to the above services, we can create different security zones, load balanced zone, separate network segments with control over the traffic and can implement virtual firewall appliances for the need of additional security.

Which option is more beneficial in the long run; cloud or on-premise growth?

Very intriguing and straight question, but as a pre-sales expert one must have a response ready in form of CBA from response 2 and other calculations to compare the costs,

  1. Costs for power and cooling for on-premise infra
  2. IT administration costs including physical and logical security.
  3. Add 9% of the risk to lose the critical data due to any possible failure.
  4. Age of hardware, residual value, CAPEX and OPEX requirement for hardware and software both.
  5. Revenue leakage or spillage due to non-availability of critical systems or over-availability of non-critical systems respectively
  6. Skills, Training, Real estate, and COLA costs.

Above costs are just a hint to create a good comparison, but there is a lot more which is case-specific and becomes important input for final decision making.

What will happen to existing hardware and software?

Depending on the contract value, the age of hardware and type of re-investment required, this question can be handled well. On the generic level, you must suggest that cloud services must be picked at the end of hardware asset depreciation (5 years), which makes more sense.

I have tried to equip you with the key information, which you as a pre-sales specialist must possess before making a compelling business case for your clients so that they can make an informed decision to migrate to cloud services.

Remember, as a pre-sales solutions architect, you must following a consulting approach, which will make your clients trust your advice and value your suggestions.

Until the moment I come back with the next article on cloud computing, please provide your feedback and share the knowledge in your network.