Selling the Cloud

3/11/2014

It doesn’t matter if you are a cloud provider looking for new clients, a platform developer in search of deployments or an enterprise looking to build next-generation data architecture, the first step in any transformation is the sales pitch.

But how do you go about convincing people that the cloud is the right way to improve their lives, particularly when there are still wide differences of opinion as to exactly what “the cloud” is?

There are any number of sources on the Web that describe the cost efficiency of the cloud, its flexibility, scalability and various other -abilities that populate IT-speak. That’s fine to get the proverbial foot in the door, but in order to close the deal you’ll have to be ready add some sizzle to that steak — rather than dwell on what the cloud is, focus on what it’s supposed to do.

And for that, we have to look beyond mere infrastructure to the application layer. The fact is, there are numerous ways in which enterprise workloads can be created, maintained and shared that simply aren’t possible with traditional architectures. There’s a company called Asana, for example, that provides advanced collaboration tools that leverage cloud-based instances to connect disparate team members for key projects, even across mobile platforms. And database companies like EnterpriseDB Corp. are churning out steady streams of solutions aimed at building and populating cloud-based clusters literally in minutes. Heck, the dev/ops advantages alone should sell themselves, with entire mock infrastructure ready to go virtually on-demand.

The point is, in order to get the prospective client to put ink to paper, the conversation needs to move past the esoteric and into the practical. CIOs are interested in real solutions to real problems, and it isn’t enough to say “we’ll just get you on the cloud and work on the fine points later.”

Sales and marketing teams, then, should bone up on the real-world cloud applications that are changing business processes every day, and where possible, create bundled packages with the application developers themselves. In this way, the cloud becomes a working system that produces results from day one rather than another technology deployment that may or may not deliver the ROI that was promised.

There will probably come a day when the distinction between the enterprise data environment and the cloud will cease to be. In the meantime, however, there is money to be made in the transition, but only for those who know how to keep customer’s eyes on the real prize.

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