What Can We Expect From Hardware Vendors In The Cloud-Age?

A couple of days ago, I was invited as a speaker to moderate a roundtable discussion with the topic “Are data on premises more safe than in the cloud?” at the SDe, Software Defined Everything 2016 in Berlin. This two-day-event was all about desktop-, server-, storage & network-virtualization in practice.

Among IT professionals (for instance from Fielmann, a huge German optician chain), where also a few vendors from HPE, Citrix, Veeam and VMware. It is evident, that the cloud will disrupt their businesses massively. Today millions of servers, VMware licenses, storage systems, etc. are sold to SMBs as well as huge companies to fill their data centers.

Alexander Buschek Speaker Software Defined Everything SDe 2016

In Germany, SMB’s were reluctant to even take the word cloud into their mouths. One year ago, wherever I met CIOs or heads of IT, cloud was not considered safe; we actually thought that our data in the cloud were already part of NSA or Chinese data centers.

Time has changed. When I talk to many colleagues in these days, I experience a considerable openness towards cloud. Of course, we need to consider security issues as well as other things. But the discussion has very much matured. When I found only a few colleagues one year ago, that supported cloud systems, I today find only a few colleagues that are not.

Back to the roundtable I was moderating. I was amazed to see that the vendors were those who were somewhat reluctant to fully support cloud systems. This does not come as a surprise. Their business is heavily disrupted by the cloud. During the discussion, they were explaining the difficulties of implementing cloud solutions. They were pointing out all the obstacles and issues we need to consider when moving our systems to the cloud. They clearly see that their business with SMBs will fade sooner or later. What amazed me, was the fact that they obviously don’t realize this major change in their businesses. I love the book “Who moved my cheese?” by Spencer Johnson. This book is 18 years old now, but still valid.

Another example: our Dell representative called me recently, to see what he can do for us. I told him a little bit of our new cloud strategy and the massive change that comes with it. He said “great, we have a new cloud product which we would love to introduce to you.”

17102014 - data center with hard drives

I thought that this is interesting. How do they manage change? So, I invited them and his cloud specialist for meeting with our infrastructure team and me. We were very curious of the new cloud products they have. During the discussion, we learned that cloud is a very unsafe thing. We also learned, that businesses will keep at least 75% of their IT infrastructure on premises in the future. Then I learned that their cloud product was an integrated server and storage system that can be managed using cloud systems! Everyone of my team looked at each other with a puzzled face. What has happened?

We just experienced how huge companies are still clinging to their products which they successfully sold over the last 20 years. To rescue the reputation of Dell, I’d like to mention that I have been talking to Nigel Moulton, EMEA CTO at VCE, the Virtual Computing Environment Company, which has been acquired by Dell. He of course has a clear understanding of how cloud is disrupting his market.

What can we learn from that? First, that it comforts us a little, because even big companies who are disrupted by these new technologies, struggle to change. Second, we have to make our own choices. We have to be even more critical when talking with our partners. This, of course, was always the case. But it’s more obvious in these days. When we set up a cloud strategy we may find, that the partners we were working with in the past are probably not the ones who have the capabilities to support us in our change process.

The picture was taken at the Kerry Cliffs in Ireland. It resembles what I sense when I talk to some people in business: Don’t go any step further. It’s too difficult. However, this comparison is a little flawed. In case of the Kerry Cliffs it is not the unknown, we’re looking at. The danger is evident.

The purpose of this blog is to start a discussion. Please leave your comments, whether you agree or if you disagree. I hope to hear from you!

About Alexander

Alexander Buschek is passionate about Digital Transformation and the opportunities it gives businesses—especially MSEs. He is convinced that every business has to embrace Digital Transformation in one way or another in order to survive. The sooner a business begins its Digital Transformation, the better. Alexander was the CIO / CDO of Braunschweiger Flammenfilter and CIO of Cherry GmbH. Prior to that he was an entrepreneur, consulting MSEs about IT strategies, providing external project management, and overseeing various IT projects (e.g. ERP and CAD implementation and migration). Working with many MSEs gave him a deep understanding of this market. Alexander is now Senior Director, Analyst (MSE) at Gartner.