How can hosting, colocation and cloud managed services providers position themselves to best enable digital enterprise transformation?
1. For a while the idea of a hosting provider as a strategic partner seemed dead. Differentiated providers in co-lo had trouble retaining their margins, half the cloud market indexed Amazon’s rates, and the market seemed destined for commoditization. Has that turned around? Is it viable for hosting providers to be truly strategic again? And if so, how?
2. From a buyer’s perspective, what’s your ideal vision for a hosting partner to support IT transformation? Is it the classic “your mess for less” of seamlessly taking on day-to-day operations so you can dedicate your team to innovation?Or does it include active collaboration on your transformation initiatives?
3. Who’s ahead in the innovation race – buyers or sellers? In other words, is the evolution of the industry driven by customers demanding new features, business models, etc.? Or is it more of a push model of suppliers proactively staying a step ahead of demand and competitive differentiation?
4. For sellers: What we see more than ever in our work is that customers want flexibility – low commitments, short contracts, but capacity at the ready when they need it, with rights of first refusal and fast install. But budget pressures haven’t relaxed as a result. To what extent do objectives of flexibility and cost control conflict on the provider side? Can a service be both flexible and price-competitive? And if not, then what’s the right premium for a true on-demand as-a-service solution?
5. For buyers: How do you source transformation? Do you break down a strategic initiative like “going mobile,” “digital enterprise” or “software-defined fill-in-the-blank” into digestible pieces that you then buy separately, or can you come to the market with that high level business-level problem and find a more complete solution?
6. For sellers: To what extent has buyer maturity become a qualification criterion for innovative solutions? Are you selling different services or with a different approach to people like Grant vs. someone like the IRS — whose 2015 projects included migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7 and Windows Server 2003 to the 2008 release?