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.
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.
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