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Cash in the cloud

01 Nov 2009

For New Zealand service providers, the ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’ could soon take on a very different meaning.

Cloud computing is slowly shifting the way companies the world over are thinking about their IT services, and there are many opportunities to be had for enterprising service providers, even in traditionally smaller markets like New Zealand. In fact, the very nature of the cloud means market size is hardly a barrier for entry; not when the entire world,  potentially, is now part of your market!

In the past two years, cloud computing has grown from a small niche to the hottest topic in IT. Cloud computing users  are benefiting from lower capital costs, flexible budgeting, global resources, rapid scaling and quicker time-to-market,  opening up new opportunities to make IT a strategic asset to their businesses.

For this reason, companies of all sizes and across all markets are already making cloud computing a part of their IT strategy. Thus, as the cloud grows, it represents either a threat or an opportunity to virtually every company in IT, and  none more so than service providers.

Companies are beginning to move away from running their own data centres, instead purchasing computing power,  storage and bandwidth as utilities from third-party providers.

Indeed one of the biggest advantages of cloud computing is the inherent portability of information and applications, independent of physical location. For example, it doesn’t matter where an application is physically located – it can be    on a server in Hungary as easily as it could be in a computer room in Auckland. To the end user it doesn’t make a  difference.

However, many resellers and service providers are still a bit slow in realising that this transition is nothing if not a major  revenue stream for their business. There is much to be said for building local services around the cloud, and selling these back to your customers. After all, while it doesn’t make any difference to them where their information is physically stored, it makes a big difference if they hit a problem and need to call an operator in eastern Europe for  support.

Support is only one way in which smart resellers are building up their arsenal of services for cloud customers. While physical location is theoretically unimportant, latency issues running an application from eastern Europe mean that  ‘local’ cloud providers can offer the combination of local support and performance benefits.

This is one area where service providers can really shine, because building infrastructure for the cloud requires  long-term planning, taking into account aspects such as operating systems and platforms that offer the highest possible  flexibility, not only for your own customers, but for customers around the world who have already invested in some form of cloud architecture.

Consider this: if your cloud OS is compatible with those used by other providers offering similar services, you have  effectively made your business very attractive to companies wanting to store their information and run their applications  on your infrastructure. Given this is the core definition of the cloud, your business has instantly been transformed into a  thriving component of a rapidly-growing ecosystem of global providers offering cloud-based services.

The only people saying there’s no cash in the cloud are the same people whose traditional business models are  threatened by the technology. Don’t listen to them, and start thinking how you can join the unstoppable shift towards  the next generation of IT services.

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