Posts Tagged ‘ServiceProviders’

Jobs in the key of E

October 19, 2012

Taxi please

What we know as the ‘telecoms’ business is an intriguing game — saddled with 100 years of doctrine and fraught with modern identity crises, but also rich with opportunities for those capable of seizing them. As the dividing lines between Telco, IT and Media become fuzzy, new players emerge and incumbents are forced to adapt, continually reshaping our idea of what it means to be in the industry. This is why I find Service Providers such a fascinating area in which to work right now. It’s also why I’m delighted to be joining the EMEA Service Providers team at EMC as Senior Technology Consultant.

For those who know me mainly from my background in IP networks, or have a less than broad understanding of EMC, this may sound like a curious move, so I thought I’d explain a few of the reasons behind my decision and how it aligns my job with what I believe about service providers and their future.

We live in the wake of relentless commoditisation: a new era of large scale utility computing, a subsequent phase of war in the industry, and software continuing to eat everything else for lunch. Spending time with colleagues, customers and vendors, I often find myself thinking about these issues and the fundamental changes that are happening in the way we consume IT to get things done in our lives – it seems clear that the future power, relevance and profitability of many organisations will depend on how they respond to this stuff.

Cloud is replacing products with services, throughout the entire IT stack. As value chains evolve, previously solid business models are starting to look a little wobbly. Looking around the workplace we see business productivity gains being delivered from everywhere except the IT department. Incumbent service providers and vendors need to pay close attention to these changes and their impacts.

When it comes to steering through waves of change in the industry, EMC seems to be one of the few big vendors that is consistently smart at the top level. The company plays a strong strategic game and is always thinking several steps ahead. They’ve got an impressive track record of shrewd moves and timely acquisitions, with a diverse collection of technology under their umbrella.

The EMC and VMware magic trick is knowing how to make the most of today in mature infrastructure markets, making smart purchases to stay at the front, but also having the forethought and discipline to sow seeds for tomorrow, such as the Cloudfoundry ecosystem, that with sufficient nurturing will help the business reach escape velocity from past success.

EMC’s appetite for the long-term view was recently underlined by Paul Maritz, a big-time advocate of developer-centric thinking, moving from VMware to become EMC’s Chief Strategist. Interestingly this is the same man who “was prepared to stand in front of VMware’s core customers (IT ops people) and tell them they were not where business value lies” (redmonk.com).

The EMEA SP unit is quite a fresh venture and I’m excited to be on-board, with the chance to build relationships and understand the businesses of some major EMC partners and customers. I’m sure we’ll be having plenty of fun juggling the assortment of opportunities and threats in the service provider space, the legacy and the next generation technologies, the old business models and new ones.

So with sadness I bid farewell to Exponential-e, on my last day here, having worked with some great people and experienced so much change along the way. I will continue to watch the company’s progress with interest.

See you all in EMEA…

 

Thoughts on trust

July 3, 2012

I was remembering a moment of customer insight during a meeting earlier this year. It was one of those perfect spring days in Britain when everything aligns and you’re lucky enough to find yourself in a pub garden.

I was out on a lunch meeting with a customer, discussing current projects with their Head of Infrastructure and we got round to talking about storage. He was an AWS S3 user and was clearly compelled to use the service for all reasons that you might expect. However, it seemed like something was missing from the picture.

“So of course I like Amazon’s services”, he said with a smile, “But, I can’t go for lunch with Amazon”.

I know for a fact this isn’t true – of course AWS folks do directly engage with some customers – but I understood the sentiment behind the comment.  To a certain extent this is probably normal for any business delivering homogeneous, auto-magic services at global scale.

What’s interesting is that Amazon are incredibly customer focused, but this focus is on building services that are so convenient that you cannot help but use them. This is a different thing to building long-term customer relationships based on trust and shared values.

In one of my favourite posts from last year Venkatesh Rao makes a good observation about Amazon’s realpolitik approach to their market, to which all AWS outages are a testament:
Where other companies might respond with overwrought displays of contrition and dramatic conciliatory gestures, Amazon will likely do the minimum necessary, wait out the storm, and move on.

So where does this leave Service Providers?

Well it would seem, given that cloud is confusing the hell out of enterprises, one of the most obvious things carriers and SPs can do is fill this human gap by becoming more consultative. There really needs to be less selling and more teaching going on. Customers respond well to a bit of honesty and clarity when it comes to making informed buying decisions.

With Cloud, as with all journeys, a path needs to be created and stepping stones are needed along the way to help transformation of people, process and technology.
Service Providers, as a trusted partner for IT, often hold a privileged position from which to approach this. The brilliant thing about trust is that it can’t be copied, or stolen or bought. It can only be earned.

Service Providers are comfortable dealing with the IT dept, but we also know the customer is changing. Providers can use existing customer relationships with IT as a beachhead from which to launch new conversations with a new type of IT buyer, who have been said to hold the purse strings for two thirds of the time.

The gulf between IT and Development is definitely a challenge, but from what I’ve seen many enterprise developers are still isolated from the public cloud revolution, especially in Europe, leaving plenty of mind share up for grabs if SPs can get their act together.