If I Were the Man You Wanted | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Singer/songwriter Lyle Lovett wrote a song with the line “If I were the man you wanted, I would not be the man that I am.” With apologies to Lyle Lovett, I think this is a very appropriate line when applied to IT infrastructure services today. Clients’ changing expectations of their incumbent IT infrastructure service providers leave the providers lamenting like the forlorn cowboy in Lovett’s song.

It’s only natural for companies to want their incumbent service providers to bring them cloud offerings. Their expectations are set by what they read and see from Amazon, Microsoft and Google. They want the infrastructure services price dropped, the benefits of elasticity and flexibility of the cloud model and usage with no commitment. Companies are trying to persuade or force their infrastructure providers to bring cloud offerings.

But IT infrastructure providers are unable to provide what they want.

The “gotcha”

The clients helped created the underlying problem. The incumbents’ services are bespoke, unique, and have been dictated through client contracts in a different kind of delivery model. In this model, costs rise every year through COLA rather than plummeting like the price of public cloud. The cost of public cloud services had been dropping around 20 percent per year but is now accelerating with the latest adjustment between 60-80 percent in a single downward-pricing adjustment by Google, quickly followed by all the major cloud players.

The pricing components are not apples to apples, and companies understand that. But plummeting prices play into client expectations. Expectations of business users that they ought to be able to have deflating costs with elasticity and flexibility and limited or no long-term commitments just cannot be met in the traditional outsourcing base.

The incumbent providers’ delivery model is a recipe of the client’s own making. Clients dictated where the provider can provide services from, what kind of service the provider must deliver and demanded customization to address their needs. As a result, providers have huge stranded investments tied up in providing what the clients demanded.

Dose of reality

There is no “they lived happily ever after” end to this situation. Among infrastructure clients, the situation causes increasing unhappiness as their unmet expectations further diverge from the reality of the services their incumbent providers deliver. But because of contractual obligations and because of their orientation, the incumbent service providers simply cannot change.

So, like the forlorn cowboy in Lyle Lovett’s song, the lyrics resonate with great poignancy among today’s service providers … “If I were the man you wanted, I would not be the man that I am.”


Photo credit: Cristian Viarisio

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