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The Voice of the Channel

Helping CIOs/CTOs Regain Control in 2018

By Tim Cecconi


For many organizations, 2017 started a public cloud tsunami of sorts.

Looking to capitalize on the potential cost-savings and business synergy benefits of the public cloud, CEOs and the leadership teams of organizations across the globe put intense pressure on their CIOs and CTOs to move as many applications to the public cloud as quickly as possible. In fact, from my vantage point as a sales executive within the global technology space, moving applications to the public cloud was one of 2017's top narratives, and I expect it will be again in 2018.

This narrative is being fueled by Senior Executives who want to maximize the potential benefits of moving applications to the public cloud; however, the benefits can be easily overestimated. CIOs and their teams have learned all too quickly about the pitfalls of blanket cloud strategies, including issues with application interdependencies, security and DR as well as unexpected retrieval/usage costs.

The tidal wave of emotion—and expectations—that has ensued has caused many organizations to rush into critical application and infrastructure decisions that will likely impact their enterprise data environments over the long term.

Read More IT Execs Tell All

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend an educational forum with more than 80 CIOs/CTOs representing businesses of various sizes, industries and geographies. The purpose of the forum was to give IT Executives the opportunity to talk to each other about the challenges and opportunities they face.

The overriding discussion during the two-day event was how to deal with the public cloud directives being issued by the executive suite. CIOs/CTOs shared their personal experiences with public and private clouds and they talked about ways to regain control of this dialogue.

The conversations centered on helping Senior Executives outside of IT to understand that moving applications to the public cloud isn't something that can be done easily and certainly not without issues.  Many success stories were shared, especially with test dev environments and highly scalable applications. However, there were an equal number of stories tied to failures.

One of the more heated conversation threads centered on the hidden data retrieval and network costs associated with public cloud options. IT Executives swapped stories about how they hadn't seen any cost-savings moving some applications to the public cloud—and, in some cases, how costs had increased significantly.

Others shared accounts of the challenges they faced with business continuity and interdependency losses with other applications. Many issues were attributed to the loss of control over the platform on which their applications were delivered (e.g., SaaS, specific hardware, cloud, etc.).

No Silver Bullet

Unfortunately, many of the IT Executives I talk with feel that if they don't show incredible progress in moving applications to the public cloud, their jobs are in jeopardy. They are completely stressed out. Their Senior Executives are saying public cloud, public cloud, but the results of proof of concepts tests, as well as actual application moves, indicate that there are no silver bullets. Instead, a lot of hard work is needed to determine the best cloud and or hardware fit for applications.

Within every complex IT environment, there are great application fits for public and private cloud as well as other platforms. Our job is to help organizations develop a plan that the Senior Executive suite will understand and that the IT team can implement for true advancement and improvement of the overall environment.

As partners, I am sure you, too, are helping your customers navigate this new "cloud" world. Over the course of the next few months, I will use this blog to explore how Sungard AS can help CIOs/CTOs build a plan that looks at the entire environment—at both the current state and future states—and then helps them determine the best delivery fit for applications within that environment.

By doing so, I believe, together we can help change the narrative.

Tim Cecconi has 22 years of experience in Global Enterprise Technology Sales and has spent the last 12 years at Sungard Availability Services as a senior vice president of sales responsible for Global Channels and ITOs, NA Healthcare, NA Government and NA South East. Tim has a BA and MBA from the University of Central Florida, where he also played college football.
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Yes, You Can Stand Out in a Crowded Marketplace

By Bill Bush


I have a confession to make. I love my job but if I could be doing anything right now I'd be on some high mountain peak or in some remote location taking pictures of something beautiful. Photography has been a passion of mine since I was young.

Like many things, photography has been affected by huge advancements in technology. Until the era of digital imaging, the barrier of entry was quite high. Photographers had to understand the technical aspects of choosing the proper speed film, lens exposure time, etc. Today, the average smartphone takes care of all this automatically.

The one thing new technology can't do, though, is create the image. Doing so is no simple task. It requires technical and artistic acumen and an ability to look differently at a subject that may have been photographed a million times before. Photographers often spend years thinking about how they will photograph a certain subject or scenic location to capture something different. I know I have.

Read More When I look at the channel, I see a lot of similarities with photography. In many ways, we are all working hard to be unique and to differentiate ourselves in a crowded marketplace. Also, as with photography, huge technological advancements have impacted our industry and many of the tactics we have used in the past to reach our audience are no longer relevant.

Further, like the photographer who is trying to make his mark by taking a picture of something that has been shot before, we need to capture the attention of customers by demonstrating our difference and immediate business value. Our conversations with customers today should start with the bigger story of how we are solving business problems and follow, when appropriate, with an infrastructure, components and features conversation with the right audience.

As a national solutions architect, I have the opportunity to work with a diverse set of partners and customers throughout the United States and Canada. It is exciting to see our industry evolving rapidly in new and different ways and I enjoy hearing how our partners are adapting. Over the course of the next year, I will leverage this blog to share stories of how Sungard AS is enabling partners to accelerate their referral or resale business by solving customer business challenges.

I hope you bookmark this site and come back regularly.

As a national solutions architect for the channel, Bill focuses on enabling distributors, VARs and technology resellers/integrators to identify optimal use cases within their customer base for Sungard AS' market-differentiated suite of cloud services to accelerate their referral or resale business.
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Why Haven't You Moved Everything to the Cloud Yet?

By Derek Siler


I find that this simple, open-ended question opens the door to productive conversations with clients better than any other. And the reason is simple.

Business problems don't stop at the edge of a particular application environment nor are they able to move everything to a hyper-scale cloud environment even if they have a cloud-first strategy. Interdependent legacy systems prevent clients from moving to a fully virtualized, cloud-ready environment. In fact, analysts estimate only 25-30% of applications environments are ready for the cloud.

This type of question puts the focus on the bigger picture and allows for better understanding of the client's desire to exit the data center business while supporting non-cloud applications through managed hosting or hosted private-cloud configurations.

Read More Put another way, it puts the focus on the client environment versus "what I can sell." And research shows customer-centric businesses (also known as "Voice of Customers" (VOCs) do better than those that don't. In fact, according to industry experts, including Deloitte and Touche and Aberdeen Group, listening to your customers (versus pitching to them) can have a significant impact on a company's financial health, driving or limiting revenue growth.

Taking a broader view of a client's business strategy not only changes the professional dynamics between you and your client but it can also help you identify a much larger issue or opportunity, like the desire to get out of the data center business altogether.

As an example, a recent partner-led deal I was working started off focusing on a small problem, but the client ultimately ended up migrating its entire SAP landscape to an application-specific cloud – all because I took a step back and asked the million-dollar question Why haven't you moved everything to the cloud?

Invariably, this question will then lead to a series of other conversation-starting questions, such as How much have you been able to migrate to the cloud, what's preventing you from moving all your applications to the cloud, etc.?

Listen, Learn and Educate


Maybe security is a barrier, or perhaps the customer doesn't want to be in a multi-tenant environment, or the applications can't be virtualized? Your job is to listen, learn and educate:

  • Remember, it's about the bigger picture. The near-term project may only involve moving applications on traditional x86 systems. But look for opportunities like open-source systems or mainframes, and ask how the organization is addressing those other environments. Do they have similar plans around digital transformation for those environments as well? The answer is often yes.

  • Avoid the temptation to look at these conversations as merely transactions. Bimodal IT engagements generally have a much longer sales cycle that can range anywhere from a few months to a year. However, there are opportunities to address smaller issues incrementally as you're working toward the bigger goals. Committing to your client will pay off.

  • Bimodal IT environments are naturally complex, so it's important that you keep the conversation simple. Discuss the different options and demonstrate how their cloud and non-cloud applications can be supported to mission critical uptime and failover tolerances.

  • Don't stifle the relationship — keep the lines of communication open and bring in others (e.g., service providers) into the conversation when the timing is right. Their expertise can help uncover potential opportunities for both of you. Even after asking the million-dollar question and getting the thousand-foot view for your client, you may still encounter hesitation. Their minds may entertain a move to the cloud, but their budgets or fear of losing data may still hold them back. Guiding customers step-by-step and truly understanding their bimodal IT environments may take more time and research, but for the customer, it can make the process less daunting. Demonstrate that you can work within their current constraints and that you have the dexterity to operate in bimodal environment without pushing them one way or the other. They'll see you as a knowledgeable and reliable partner with their long-term goals in mind, and that's the clearest path to better business.
For more info, go to channels.sungardas.com/alwayswin.

Derek Siler is director of solution engineering, channel sales, Sungard AS. He has 15 years' experience building scalable, high-performance and fully recoverable IT environments for mission-critical application environments.
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Are You Asking the Million Dollar Questions?

By Jim Schwartz


It seems like everything we do these days is in some way new. Gone are the days of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting to see better and better results. Change is in fact the new constant, leaving us with two choices: to embrace it or get out of its way.

Take, for example, the IT industry.

Recent research from CompTIA, a non-profit trade association serving the IT industry, underscores a big shift in behavior and strategy among organizations when it comes to the purchase and use of IT within organizations—a trend that parallels the digital transformation journey.

Read More In a recent CompTIA survey of IT buyers representing various functional departments across the organization, including marketing, finance, logistics and sales:

  • 49% surveyed said that the ultimate objective for technology is now more business-focused.
  • 27% surveyed said that the final decision is now made by a different group than the IT department.
CompTIA makes the point that the IT buyer could be "anyone" within the organization—a fact that is substantiated by both Gartner and IDC.

Writes CompTIA:

  • Gartner shows that more than half of the IT respondents from functional areas other than IT are involved in purchasing decisions, and the rate of involvement appears to be increasing.
  • IDC shows a shift in worldwide corporate IT spending and forecasts LoB IT spending to be nearly equal to that of the IT organization.

What Does This Mean for You?


William Jennings Bryan once said: "Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved."

Translation:

  • The types of conversations you are having with your customers and with whom you are having them with must change. You can no longer rely on your relationship with the CTO. You must expand your network within your customers.
  • To rise above the noise of your competitors and help your customers effectively transform their environments so they can accelerate business objectives, you need to change your story. You must ask the questions that will jump-start new conversations with your customers around the business challenges they face.
To help you along this journey, we have launched a new program that will provide you with the Million Dollar Questions you need to have meaningful conversations with your customers as they transition to the cloud.

Questions like:

  • Why haven't you moved everything to the cloud yet?
  • Do you want to get out of the data center business?
  • What steps are you taking to reduce your IT security risk?
  • How protected are you against the next big disaster?
Over the next few weeks, we will explore each of these questions, providing you with the latest news, information, and trends you need to start, and keep, a steady conversation going with your customers.

We've created this blog to serve our partner community. We hope you bookmark the site and visit often. As always please do not hesitate to reach out to your Channel Sales Manager or me with any questions. Your success is our success. Happy selling!



Jim Schwartz is Senior Director of Channel Operations, Sungard AS. He has been driving channel operations at Sungard Availability Services for the past nine years. He is a 24-year veteran of the IT and telecommunication industries and has extensive experience in global channel sales, strategy, programs and operations.
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About the Blog

Today's businesses share a common objective: to work smarter, faster, and more efficiently than ever before. However, if your customers are like many of the companies we talk to, they're straddling two worlds – they've got one foot in legacy and one foot in the Cloud. They're struggling to deliver the speed and agility stakeholders want while maintaining the resilient and stable IT environment they need to make everyday business happen. We've created the ChannelView blog to provide the info and tools you need to help support your customers through the transformative digital journey. We hope you come to think of us as the voice of the channel.

Archive

Yes, You Can Stand Out in a Crowded Marketplace
Why Haven't You Moved Everything to the Cloud Yet?
Are You Asking the Million Dollar Questions?