In the past six months, consumers have been inundated with a flood of consumer-oriented advertising about “the cloud,” and as hosting providers, we collectively cringe when we think of how this marketing will confuse even more people about the cloud. Nowadays when you mention the cloud, most of the people outside of the hosting industry think of some magic mystery box that virtualizes your home desktop, stores your Angry Birds high scores and fixes family photos. While those functions may be parts of new cloud services offerings, their limited scope and explanation isn’t doing us any favors.
On Tuesday, August 9, I’ll be on a panel in an afternoon session at HostingCon about how hosting providers can compete in a crowded cloud market. As a precursor to that discussion, it’s important to understand the consumer confusion in the marketplace and what it means for the hosting industry when we offer hardware-abstracted computing and storage platforms with consumptive billing under the same moniker. There will be no shortage of demand for the cloud from new consumers, so our challenge will be to set expectations clearly and often about what the cloud is and what the cloud isn’t.
Emerging technologies are often plotted on the Gartner Hype Cycle to explain the ebbs and flows of a given technology’s visibility as it is adopted by users, and after the highly publicized releases around the cloud, if you had to pick one spot for “the cloud” right now, it would be close to the top of the peak of inflated expectations. It’s entirely possible that you can turn on the television right now to hear that the cloud will shine your shoes, unload the dishwasher, convert aluminum cans to diamonds and sing you to sleep every night. As hosting providers intent on bringing cloud platforms to the plateau of productivity, the best thing we can do is break the bad news to users gently about when the cloud makes sense for a given application or budget and when an alternative technology may be a better fit.
Our inner marketers want to capitalize on the hype and assure the newest entries into the hosting space that the cloud will in fact take out the trash and make sure their kids brush their teeth, but the pragmatic approach will help those users understand the actual benefits and capabilities of available technologies and the break-even points of cost in different usage-based scenarios.
What do you think the “plateau of productivity” will look like for the cloud? How do you talk about the limitations of a virtualized platform? Have you advised users against your own cloud platform? Why?
-George Karidis (@gkdog)
As SoftLayer’s Chief Strategy Officer, George Karidis is responsible for the company’s strategic growth and marketing activities. He will be participating on the “Clearing Up the Cloud: Hosting Providers Share Strategies for Competing in a Crowded Cloud Market” panel in the “Emerging Trends” track at HostingCon 2011 on August 9, at 2:00pm.
HostingCon 2011 is only five weeks away – have you registered? Momentum is building for yet another record-breaking year for attendance. Join more than 1,800 hosted services professionals to learn, network and grow at HostingCon 2011 in San Diego, California, August 8-10, 2011.