Enterprise CIOs Get no Cloud Satisfaction from Incumbent Vendors | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

Posted On January 3, 2012

Enterprises are frustrated when it comes to cloud migration, and it appears they have good reason to be.

During the past three months, we have had conversations with IT and executive leadership in upwards of 50 Global 2000 firms that rely on distributed, global IT operations. These companies operate dozens of data centers running hundreds of workloads that support tens – or hundreds – of thousands of employees around the world.

Our discussions covered three basic topics related to their migration path from dedicated and virtual infrastructures to cloud. Their answers revealed disappointment and a growing sense of frustration with the incumbent vendors that built their global network of data centers. And their comments suggest a major misalignment of technology and marketing, as well as a potentially huge opportunity for disruption by new competitors in enterprise cloud.

1.     “Tell us about the conversations you’re having with your incumbent equipment and software vendors about next generation IT migration.”

IT leadership stated that vendors are “stuck in technology speak,” focusing on their latest version of private cloud rather than demonstrating reference installations that support a business case. They also reported frustration at how each vendor defines cloud terminology differently, making rational comparisons impossible. Market noise has become deafening, creating distractions for their IT staffs that are trying to cut through the cloudwashing and map out a cloud migration strategy.

Perhaps most troubling is that these enterprises reported that their incumbent vendors are focusing on technology, with little to no focus on business value.

2.     “Are you impressed with what they’re telling you?”

Despite the answer to the first question, the CIOs told us they are impressed in select cases, primarily with vendors that have developed vertical-specific solutions to address data privacy, security and compliance issues.

For the most part, however, the IT professionals we spoke with reported seeing lots of impressive slide decks with long-term cloud visions, but receiving unsatisfactory answers about the ability to execute in the short-term.

They also cited transparency of security and controls as a major issue. Those we spoke with require a level of visibility into solution performance that their incumbent vendors are simply unable to deliver.

3.     “What action plan have you developed with your legacy vendor?”

Here’s where it became apparent that incumbent vendors are missing the mark.

While it seems obvious that vendors would recommend their own solutions, enterprise buyers want objectivity when it comes to the cloud. “Vendors guide us to their own solutions,” and “their incentives to do so are apparent,” were consistent themes. Consequently, enterprise buyers are not relying on one vendor when it comes to cloud migration action plans, even if their incumbent is a Tier 1 ITO vendor.

This seems to be a direct result of enterprise buyers’ frustration with the lack of direct answers regarding what is available for deployment today, and what is merely a toolkit or development environment.

There’s not much improvement when talking about native cloud providers. Several people noted that while these vendors are able to bring ready-to-wear solutions to the table, their experience bases are either with the developer community or with service providers, but not enterprises. This experience gap raises questions among enterprise IT leadership regarding these providers’ ability to provide a seamless implementation and ongoing support.

We drew several important conclusions from these conversations:

  1. Vendor “over-marketing” in the race to grab cloud share is confusing the market, and may actually be slowing adoption by introducing risk and doubt among enterprise buyers. This became apparent when several CIOs told us they have essentially black listed some of their incumbent vendors from further conversations about their cloud migration strategies.
  2. We’re seeing a surprising volume of Global 2000 enterprises – most prominently in the U.S. and Europe – issuing RFPs for complete outsourcing of their data centers to IaaS providers. Of course, this does not mean they’re going to do it, but the aggressiveness with which they’re exploring the option points to a fundamental dissatisfaction with the ability of their trusted partners to deliver them to the cloud.
  3. The next issue to contend with is organizational and cultural readiness within the enterprise IT function. CIOs are aware of this, they’re concerned about it, and they don’t see any reliable best practices to guide them.

It’s clear to us that incumbent vendors have stumbled, leaving the door to the enterprise CIO’s office open. Opportunity awaits providers that can bring ready-to-deploy cloud solutions to the enterprise, backed by vertical market experience and an ability to assist with cultural transformation.

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