The Rationale for Building Your Own Cloud
Dec 3, 2012 5:00 AM PT
Many businesses know the benefits of taking their business to the cloud, but Australian IT services provider Thomas Duryea Consulting made the transition to cloud computing as its business.
The company is using a cloud-of-clouds approach to provide new types of IT services to customers in the Asia-Pacific region.
Thomas Duryea designed, built, and commercialized a vast cloud infrastructure to provide services such as disaster recovery and application programming platforms to its clients.
Listen to a discussion kicking off a three-part series on implementing cloud technology to deliver and commercialize an adaptive and reliable cloud-services ecosystem, featuring Adam Beavis, general manager of cloud services at Thomas Duryea. Part one addresses the rationale and business opportunity for Thomas Duryea to build its cloud-services portfolio. The interview is conducted by Dana Gardner.
Download the podcast (16:52 minutes) or use the player:
Here are some excerpts:
Dana Gardner: Why cloud services for your consulting and business customers now?
Adam Beavis: Certainly, the customers are the big driver while we are moving into cloud services. Being a traditional IT integrator, we've been very successful showing a lot of data-center solutions to our customers, but more and more we're seeing customers finding it harder to get CAPEX and new projects and they are really starting to look at the cloud alternative.
Gardner: Why, then, have you looked at moving toward cloud services as a commercial offering, rather than going yourself to a public cloud and then availing yourself of their services? Why build it yourself?
Beavis: We reviewed all the possibilities and looked at moving to some of the larger cloud providers, but we've got a strong skill set, a strong heritage, and good relationships with our customers, and they forced our hand in many ways to move down that path.
They were concerned about telcos looking after some of their cloud services. They really wanted to maintain the relationship that they had with us. So we reviewed it and understood that, because of the skill sets we have and the experience in this area, it would work both commercially and then relationship-wise. The best move for us was to leverage the existing relationships we have with the vendors and build out our own cloud.
Gardner: So who are these eager customers? Could you describe them? Do they fall into a particular category, like a small to medium-size business (SMB) type of clientele? Is it a vertical industry? Where is the sweet spot in the market?
No Sweet Spot
Beavis: That's probably the one thing that surprised me the most. As we've been out talking to customers and selling the cloud, there really is no sweet spot. Organizations that you talk to will be doing it for different reasons. Some of them might be doing it for environmental insurance reasons, because having their data center in their building is costing them money, and there are now viable opportunities to move it out.
But if I were to identify one or two, the first one would be independent software vendors (ISVs). Cloud solutions are bringing to ISVs something they've looked for for a long time, and that's the ability to run test and development environments. Once they've done that, they can host their applications out of a service provider and not have to worry about the underlying infrastructure, which is something, as an application developer, they're not interested in.
So we're seeing them, and we're working with quite a few. One, an Oracle partner, will actually run their tests in their environments in a cloud, and then be able to deliver those services back to some of their customers. In other cases they'll run up the development in their cloud and then import that to an on-premises cloud afterward.
The other area is with SMBs. We're certainly seeing them, for a financial reasons, want to shift to cloud. It's the same old story of OPEX versus CAPEX, reduced budgets, and trying to do more with less.
The cloud is now in a position where it can offer that to SMB customers. So we're seeing great opportunities appear, where not only are we taking their infrastructure into the cloud, but also adding on top of that managed-service capability, where we will be managing all the way up to the application.
Gardner: Based on this mixture of different types of uses, it sounds like you're going to be able to grow your offerings right along with what this market demands. Perhaps some of those ISVs might be looking for a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) direction, others more of a managed services, just for specific applications. Was that important for you to have that sort of Swiss Army knife for cloud advancement?
Beavis: Exactly right, Dana. Each one is addressing a different pain point. For example, some of them are coming to us for disaster recovery (DR) as a service, because the cost of renewing their DR site or managing or putting that second site out is too expensive. Others, as you said, are just looking for a platform to develop applications on. So the whole PaaS concept is something near and dear to us on our roadmap.
Each one continues to evolve, and it's usually the customers that start to drive you as a cloud provider to look at your own service catalog. That's probably something that's quite exciting -- how quickly you need to evolve as a service provider. Because it's still quite a new area for a lot of people, and customers do ask for varying things that they expect the cloud to be or what a cloud is. We're constantly evolving and looking at new offerings to add into our service catalog.
We see it being more than just one offering in our eyes. We see us being able to provide it to anyone, from a small reseller to an ISV, someone who develops their own applications. Or, it's someone who works specifically with applications and they're not just interested anymore in running their own infrastructure on their site or caring for it. They just want to provide that platform for their developers to be able to work hassle-free.
Gardner: So this means that you've got to come up with an infrastructure that can support many different type of uses, grow, scale, and increase adaptability to the market. What were some of the requirements, when you started looking at the vendors that you were going to partner with to create this cloud offering?
Understanding Customer Needs
Beavis: The first thing that was important for us was, as you said, understanding our customers' needs initially, and then matching that to what they required. Once we had that, those words you mentioned, scale and everything, had to come into play. Also the cost to build these things certainly doesn't come cheap. So we had to make sure we could use the existing resources we had.
We really went in the end with the VMware product, because we have existing skill sets in that area. We knew we would have a lot of support, with their being a tier-1 vendor and us being a tier-1 partner for them. We needed someone that could provide us with that support from both a services perspective, sales, marketing, and really come on the journey with us to build that cloud.
And then obviously our other vendors underneath, like EMC, who are also incredibly supportive of us, integrate very well with those products, and Cisco as well.
It had to be something that we could rapidly build, I won't say out of the box, because it's a lot that goes around building a cloud, but something that we knew had a strong roadmap and was familiar to all our customers as well.
The move to cloud is something that is new to them, it's stressful, and they're wondering how to do it. In Australia, 99 percent of customers have some sort of VMware in their data center. To be able to move to a platform that they were familiar with and had used in the past makes a big difference, rather than saying, "You're moving to cloud, and here is a whole new platform, interface, and something that you've never seen before."
The story of the hybrid cloud was something we sat down and saw had a lot of legs: The opportunity for people to stick their toe in the water and get used to being in the cloud environment. And VMware's hybrid cloud model, connecting your on-premises into the public cloud, was also a big win for us. That's really a very strong go-to-market for us.