As part of our ongoing research into Cloud Computing, IDC recently conducted a survey of 244 IT executives/CIOs and their line-of-business (LOB) colleagues about their companies’ use of, and views about, IT Cloud Services. In part 1, we looked at current and future adoption of IT cloud services. In part 2, we looked at users’ views about the key benefits and challenges of IT cloud services.
This post, part 3, identifies the most important attributes users want in their preferred IT cloud services providers.
Winning in Cloud Services Means Addressing Cloud and Traditional IT Challenges
My number one takeaway from the chart below – which looks at users’ top-rated IT cloud services supplier attributes – is that successful suppliers will need to address both the biggest challenges of cloud services, and the biggest traditional IT user issues.
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The mesh of traditional and cloud issues – at the core of users’ selection of cloud services providers – is most obvious when looking at the top two rated attributes above.
- The #1 attribute users want from cloud services providers – competitive pricing – is exactly the same as users cited as #1 in last March’s post on what users want from their IT suppliers overall.
- The #2 requirement for cloud services providers – offering performance-level assurances – relates directly to the #2 and #3 challenges (performance and availability) users cited about cloud services in our recent post on cloud services benefits and challenges.
The mesh of traditional and cloud IT issues continues as we move down the list of preferred supplier attributes.
- The #3 attribute – understanding the customer’s business and industry – was #3 among users’ requirements for IT suppliers in general in last March’s survey.
- The #4 attribute – allowing cloud offerings to migrate back onto customer premises if needed – takes us back, once again, to users’ cloud concerns: worries about migrating cloud services back on premise was tied for #6 among cloud services challenges.
Cautionary Notes for Cloud Services and Traditional IT Players
This data suggests that there is a lot of opportunity for IT cloud services suppliers who display the attributes that cloud services customers are looking for – the attributes that directly address their customers’ greatest challenges and concerns. But there are cautionary messages as well.
It is clear that business leaders are not looking at IT cloud services in isolation, but as a part of their overall IT strategy.This certainly is a cautionary note for cloud services pure-play and start-up firms. This finding suggests that Amazon, Google, Saleforce.com, and others, are going to have to get very good at addressing the broader IT issues: ones that go well beyond the cloud, but – as seen above – are also very relevant to customers’ cloud services choices. In some recent briefings with some of these firms, I’ve noted that there is still some significant learning going on around these traditional user requirements.
There are also some important cautionary notes in these findings for traditional suppliers:
- First, traditional IT suppliers are the new kids on the block in the cloud services world: if they don’t fully embrace the new model – for example, if they hold back on core requirements (like very competitive pricing) – in order to protect their traditional offerings, their leadership in traditional IT will fail to carry over into the cloud world.
- Second, many traditional IT suppliers are still just coming up to speed in understanding customers’ business/industry environments – they certainly don’t have an insurmountale lead over cloud services specialist in that area. They need to “keep the pedal to the metal”, transforming their organizations (and offerings) to ones that are less “IT-centric”, and more directly relevant to customers’ business issues.
- Third – and this may surprise many people – the chart above suggests that, when it comes to cloud services vendor selection, customers are less biased toward their large, established incumbent suppliers, and are more interested in whether the supplier is a “future-oriented innovator”. This is a direct challenge to traditional industry leaders who are moving too slowly into the cloud services world. It is a shot in the arm for cloud services newcomers – provided they are able to offer credible responses to the traditional IT issues discussed above.