Zayo Group hosted a panel of cloud industry experts during Cloud Expo Europe April 12-13 in London. The panel was hosted by Timothy Creswick, CEO and Founder at Vorboss and included Karl Deacon, SVP Enterprise Platforms at Canopy, Steve Hall, CEO at Crown Hosting and Aaron Shelley from Zayo Group.

[easy-tweet tweet=”The #cloud term can be both a help and hindrance in terms of brokering a discussion with customers” user=”ZayoGroup”]

Aaron Shelley, manager of technical sales enablement at Zayo Group, shares the top 5 take-aways from the members of the panel, including what hosting and infrastructure providers should be doing now to help their customers with cloud and IaaS solutions:

1) The term ‘cloud’ can be both help and a hindrance for customers  

Aaron: The cloud term can be both a help and hindrance in terms of brokering a discussion with customers. Since cloud is a fluid term, it does offer you an advantage since architecting cloud as an idea can become everything depending on the customer’s needs.

Karl: The vagueness of ‘cloud’ allows for a broader discussion of what people actually need to achieve from a business perspective and then how the ‘cloud’ should help them. Customers are now looking to transform the enterprise as a result of cloud-enabled solutions and it has become the tool that allows businesses to do just that.

Steve: Customers aspire to digitally transform themselves but don’t know how to do that, so they will often turn to cloud providers for input.

2) Self-service is prevalent in the cloud

Karl: Cloud, social and mobile are all important for customers today. Self-service is critical, in driving potential change in a managed way and bringing quick benefits. Cloud is still (a question of) outsourcing and how you can get the best out of your cloud service provider (including fully managed service and self-service).

Aaron: Smaller more mid-market businesses are used to doing it for themselves. Zayo can be at both ends of the spectrum. Customers demand self-service for greater speed and agility.

3) What is the role of the IT department in a situation where departments can self-service for the cloud and IaaS applications they need?

Aaron: Internal IT teams need to upskill further on how to onboard a robust cloud strategy. The successful ones are not the service huggers but the ones which allow others to take control. Where do I see success? Leaders who are discussing what is tactical and what is strategic for the business to be able to achieve in IT transformation terms over the next 12 to 24 months.

Karl: IT is an enabler to transform a business from the inside-out, and the IT team has become the strategic enabling service within those organisations to effect more strategic change often without their colleagues realising a change took place! It is always going to be about how new technology will change how businesses work. For example, Siemens and GE are building analytics into their overall development strategies so they will change their relationship with their customers over time. Technology is now the enabler to drive change to reach scale and to develop closer links with customers. At that point, you are in an enviable position.

Steve: It’s all about organisational and THEN technological change. Every time I have seen it the other way round it has gone wrong.

4) Major factors in the last 12 months which have accelerated the cloud

Karl: It is business economics which is driving cloud adoption. It is not just about technology innovation, but a desire to change the way we do business and adopt the cloud.

Steve: Companies are becoming more confident in the cloud and therefore less risk-averse. Business desire has always been there, but it’s become a more comfortable thing to do and there is less risk involved now.

Aaron: It’s a business solution. Newcomers tend to diagnose the cloud from a business angle. Where does it hurt? What does the business need? In a phrase: disaster recovery.

5) What happens to the businesses getting left behind? Are there risks to not adopting cloud?

Karl: Again, this is a business issue. The companies who are left behind, whether they adopt the cloud or not, are those that are not being innovative and competitive in their markets.

Steve: There are now a lot more hybrid solutions available at market level. No way is cloud ‘one size fits all’ and I tend to agree: hybrid is now a popular choice to help support this innovation and tailor it to these business needs.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Companies are becoming more confident in the #cloud and therefore less risk-averse” user=”ZayoGroup”]

Aaron: It completely depends. At what point are you in your business lifecycle? It depends on your company’s current market offerings. Pure public cloud is the exception not the rule, the majority are now shifting into the hybrid. If there is not a business driver behind you, you are not making the right decision. Everything should be used in moderation, including cloud development.

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Aaron Shelley, Manager Technical Sales Enablement at Zayo Group With a degree from Yale University, Aaron joined Zayo Group in February 2015. As a highly experienced expert in back up strategies, over the past 15 years he has held several managerial and engineering roles in the US including Latisys and Acxicom. He specialises in aligning business needs with technical solutions and disaster recovery. He has significant experience in designing and implementing data centres to virtualised server and storage infrastructures. He has also designed back up strategies for companies ranging from 5 servers to Fortune 50 companies.