Not Just Another Cloudy Day Blog

Welcome back.  OK, I know you’ve all been anxiously waiting for a ‘Cloud’ blog.  These days, it is difficult to blog about anything cloud without resorting to sappy references to ‘cloudy days’, hybrid public-private clouds and the like.  This blog takes a different approach.

Situation: Service Providers are jumping on a bandwagon and rushing to offer cloud services. 

Problem: It seems every Service Provider is entering this space with what is acknowledge to be an entry level but low-margin business – Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).  What’s worse, some Service Providers are saying “I’ll just take some of my spare servers and storage, cobble them together and offer Cloud Services”.  

Reality Check:  Cobbling together spare servers, storage and network and launching a service offering is NOT cloud computing – it is Colocation.

This common misperception is often overlooked in the rush by Service Providers to launch pseudo-cloud offerings.

A more reasoned approach is to treat cloud service offerings exactly as a new product launch and use an established stage-gate product development life cycle.  Of course, EMC Consulting has turbocharged multiple customers through this process, so here is a ‘sneak peak’.

Questions to ask: Here are the basic areas to cover right before starting a product development life cycle for cloud offerings:

1. What are the customer needs for the Service Provider?  Why would Cloud-based services be relevant to them?

Why Answer this Question? Each Service Provider has a unique mix and profile of customers. Analysis of the current customer profile is foundational to planning cloud offers.

2. The customer needs to be identified in terms of 1), what are the target business processes, workloads, and information that should go into the cloud for the ecosystem? 

Why Answer this Question?  Segmenting the market by size of customer and quickly drilling down to the specific workload that is most attractive to move to the cloud helps further identify implementation tactics and possible revenue streams.

3. What markets or offerings should a Service Provider focus on to establish a leadership position?

Why Answer this Question?  As described above, IaaS is always the first to be launched by Service Providers – yet with all the entrants, this is a low margin business. The cloud service offer rollout plan should identify specific value-added components of the second, third and fourth offering in order to build on IaaS and keep momentum.

4. What are a Service Provider’s strengths to be leveraged to achieve leadership? 

Why Answer this Question?  The most successful Service Providers match their Customer markets and needs with Cloud offerings, coupled with a ‘special sauce’ that provides value-added differentiation for existing customers and entices new customers.

Differences between markets:

If it isn’t obvious by now, Service Providers need to first determine which markets they want to target.  The profile of customers and business requirements to support a cloud offering vary significantly by the target (Small Business, Mid Market, Enterprise).  The following is a top-level view of the differences:

How to Define A Winning Strategy for Service Providers?

The answer: Alignment of four key areas.

1. Service selection is critical

–     Differentiated from dozens of other provider offerings in your geography

–     Sticky – for your current customers as well as new

–     Extendable – publish your roadmap showing enhancements every 3 – 6 months

2. Market focus is important

–     Laser-focus plus readiness to segment your market

–     Growth and Profitability

3. Technology platform is key

–     Speed and Agility

–     Scalability and Flexibility

–     Ease of Integration – demonstrated by moving some of your internal applications to the same platform.  Showcase how you, the service provider, leverage cloud for your internal applications.

4. Go To Market (GTM) partnership is essential

–     Route to market

–     Credibility in the space

–     Customer acquisition

This final point 4 needs just a few more comments.  Sales organizations within Service Providers typically know how to sell phones, pipes and network services.   Cloud service offerings are different in many ways.  You may say ‘I’ll just retrain my sales force’ – yet this requires unique skills and solution-based selling – a new concept for many sales groups. Do not underestimate the amount of time and effort needed to plan your Go-to-Market approach.

In summary – the Alignment of 1 – 4 is everything for success!

Next Blog:  A special combined Blog and International Travel Tip: Executive Leadership during a Foreign Natural Disaster

I hope you will join me and will pass on the link to your friends and networks.  Please subscribe, send me feedback, and check back next week for the next installment. If nothing else, I promise the International Travel tips will be extremely useful!

Today’s International Travel Tip:   Flight Upgrades – The Secrets of Getting Them

Most of us relish the upgrades provided to frequent fliers by airlines.   Actually redeeming an upgrade for a seat is a complex matter. 

Most airlines follow a complex formula which they do not publish.  However, through trial and error as well as conversations with friendly airline agents, the following general rules for upgrades apply.  Upgrades are determined by several factors:

1)      The time and date you request an upgrade

2)      A traveler’s status with the airline (higher is better)

3)      The price paid by the traveler for the entire ticketed itinerary

4)      Actual check-in time

At least 3 days ahead of flight departure, call your airline and verify that you are on the upgrade wait list.  (Due to flight itinerary changes and reticketing, your original upgrade request may have been lost.)  This is due to the fact that airlines begin processing upgrade for their highest tier of frequent fliers 72 hours prior to flight time.

If you are not cleared at 72 hours or 48 hours before flight time, be sure to take advantage of online check-in, which is usually 24 hours prior to flight departure.

Why is this important?  As one agent relayed to me, it is a signal to the airline that you are serious about taking the flight.

So you’ll see me setting an alarm to check-in online exactly 24 hours ahead of flight departure.

What is sometimes unclear is the online check-in process for international flights requiring passport and/or visa checks. Under these circumstances, airlines issue an online ‘check-in document’ instead of an actual boarding pass. This is a rather useless document – that requires you to still check-in with a airline agent who verifies you have a valid passport and visa documents.  However, per airline personnel, it allegedly puts you on the wait list for upgrades at the time of check-in.

Finally, don’t forget to periodically take your highest airline status and call other airlines to request a status match.  They may request a copy of your latest airline mileage summary to verify your status. It is usually good once every several years.

About the Author: Laddie Suk

Laddie leads a cross-functional Dell Technologies Consulting team focused on digital transformation and industry solutions. He is a seasoned industry veteran with deep experience across multiple industries, solutions, and technologies. As a former Verizon Network CIO and Network Executive at AT&T and Bell Labs, he has extensive hands-on experience in leading strategic network and IT development projects and managing communication service provider environments. He has also led strategic and tactical engagements in network transformation, IT transformation, and business process and performance improvement for clients throughout the Americas.