We caught up with Lilac Schoenbeck, VP of product management and marketing at VMware-based cloud provider iland, to find out why resellers should be offering cloud services, what the most neglected area of the market is, and what vendors are supposed to do about the tremendous amounts of data that the cloud and produce.
What does iland do?
Iland is been in business for 20 years. We were founded as a web hosting company and have been working with mid market and enterprise companies on a global scale since then.
We transitioned from web hosting over time and became focused on managed hosting. We adopted virtualisation at its advent and became an early VMware partner and service provider.
When the transition moved from virtulisation to cloud – we took that up about nine years ago, offering infrastructure as a service (IaaS) as well as disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS).
How do you differ from other companies that offer these services?
We’re VMware-based cloud and a lot of customers are seeking that because it provides a lot of continuity from what they have on-premise. We also run on Cisco infrastructure. We are working with security partners to ensure our customers have the right mix of services built in to their cloud offering.
We like to add in all the capabilities that all our mid market and large enterprise customers really need in order to run a complete cloud. One of the things that we approach the market with is the premise that you shouldn’t have to buy the cloud resource then go out and hunt for all the other little pieces you need to make it effective.
Those little pieces are often management, VPNs, firewalls etc. and they all increase the burden of buying cloud and using cloud. So we try to add more and more of what our customers need.
We also have a manage portal through which we present all of our options and all our pricing and performance information. It’s available to all our IaaS and DRaaS customers, and our private cloud customers.
Do you think the cloud is right for every business?
Cloud can be beneficial to a large number of businesses. Not every cloud is the same – some require a significant of upfront effort to get them going and a lot of organisations can’t spare the time. So for those organisations, they need to make a decision about how they’re going to approach cloud to make it work for them. One approach is to look for a vendor.
Is it really as safe as it’s been made out to be?
I think it’s safer than people are concerned about. As a cloud vendor I will tell you that the security of our environment is our bread and butter. We have no choice but to be secure. If we ran into a major security problem, that would be the end of our business.
If you’re resting your entire business on the infrastructure, then you have to be spending a tremendous amount of time to make that it’s a safe environment for your customers to run in.
Having said that, there’s a difference between securing the infrastructure as a cloud vendor and supplying tools for your customers’ workloads to be secure – that’s a different level of the infrastructure and that’s something that we spending time on improving.
We recently ran a story from you about how some cloud providers are not sharing information with customers. Why is this happening?
A cloud is spitting off a tremendous amount of information – every virtualised environment does. But a lot of cloud vendors don’t share that information with their users. That data can be performance and capacity information and all these different pieces can be overwhelming so it seems cloud providers don’t pass that along. I don’t know that it’s malicious but I do know that it’s negligent because this information is stuff that the user would really want access to.
Whether it is performance or security information, all these pieces of data that cloud providers don’t share often cause a gap in the knowledge of the user. This can hamper the ability of users to grow in the cloud.
What are resellers/service providers missing out on if they don’t offer cloud services?
For a reseller or someone in the channel, one of the challenges is that you want to provide your customer with end-to-end IT solutions and one of the big benefits of cloud is that you can get access to resources in short-term and pay-as-you-go models, you have access to locations far away.
For a lot of customers, they don’t want the hassle of having to manage this. So the big balance that a channel partner has to make is recognising that these are not their resources so there’s a different businesses model associated with providing them, but seeing what kind of flexibility and benefits they can give their customers. I’m confident that most channel partners can add a lot of value on top of cloud provider.
How can we expect cloud service to evolve in the future?
I think we’re going to see more simplification of cloud services. They’re not going to become more basic, there will be better access to those services.
Right now, the primarily consumers of cloud are big organisations that can invest a lot of money in the cloud and new organisations that have young development teams that have been born into cloud.
The piece of the market that is the most neglected is the mid-size organisation with a healthy IT department, which needs flexibility and many of the other benefits of cloud, but doesn’t necessarily have the resources. So to me, the next evolution of cloud is a democratisation of the whole thing so it can become more straight forward for those companies.
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