gaskets, clouds and grease

With the Cloud, small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) now have access to high-performance and reliable IT infrastructure that was once only available to large companies.

The Cloud’s main advantage is its simplicity. Relieved of all the complexity and heavy investments required for setting up and operating IT infrastructure, SMBs can finally match their information systems to their business needs at affordable prices. But will this simplicity really spur on a mass migration to the Cloud?

Not for everyone. At least not for those who make money off of complexity. Some examples would be the channels that provide solutions to companies: IT consulting firms, systems integrators, VARs and other players in the IT world. This list includes all companies that continue to make a living off of knowing how to manage a complex system of networks, machines and applications.

one man’s junk…

These companies didn’t create the complexity: it was already there, and it may always be there. For example, we know that more than eight in ten IT projects fail to meet their budget, deadline or functionality requirements, and that’s not counting projects that are never completed! In fact, almost a third of projects are aborted in the development phase (2009 Standish Group report).

In a world in need of a complete overhaul, it’s always helpful to find analogies in other areas. For example, other industries have already undergone this kind of total revolution in their path to maturity. Take the automotive industry for one. For a good part of the 20th century, drivers needed to be pretty good mechanics just to cruise down the highway. And of course you couldn’t get anywhere without your hand crank.

the Cloud: a distant cousin of the gasket?

Indeed there was a time when driving meant getting your hands dirty, literally! Mechanics were all over, building their empires on gaskets and platinum screws. Nowadays, most mechanics use their skills to improve vehicle performance. They prevent breakdowns instead of fixing them, and do more tune-ups than repair work. As the industry matured, progress in maintenance practices made the mechanic’s new role both necessary and useful.

But why would IT professionals give up their daily bread? For the same reasons old-style mechanics changed the services they offered (at least we hope mechanics have adjusted both for their livelihoods and their customers!): quite simply because this daily bread is shrinking smaller and smaller every day. According to a recent study by KPMG, by 2016, only 16% of European companies plan to continue using “on-premise” infrastructure.

keywords: value added

To conclude, users will determine the fate of complexity. And all signs indicate that they will opt to eliminate it. IT consulting firms, systems integrators and VARs can bid adieu to the cash cow of managing complex infrastructure. At best, IT providers may only be able to slow down the migration to the Cloud.

In this time of transformation, the companies that will survive and flourish are the ones that will take advantage of the cloud revolution by following these simple rules: shift added value to business applications, prefer consulting to maintenance, configure instead of install, and guarantee quality of service above all. Hey! That’s exactly what cloud computing promises to offer…


This blog post was originally published in French here.

Photo credit: © pixarno -

Martine Garrivet

I specialize in high-value indirect channels. For much of my career, I worked with VARs, retailers, systems integrators and distributors on behalf of designers and developers.