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Larry Carvalho

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Trusting Cloud Vendors

Using cloud by small businesses depends a lot on vendor reputation

At the quarterly meeting of the cloud standards customer council held on December 13, 2011, Fireclay Tile presented their story on using Salesforce as a cornerstone of their success in leveraging cloud technology during challenging times. The presenter was Eric Edelson, the VP and owner of Fireclay Tile, not anyone from Information Technology (IT).  That is because at Fireclay Tile, there is no IT department!  All IT work is managed by line of business and delivered by cloud service providers.  Fireclay Tile pays by usage and hires appropriate integration providers to modify their package to suit their needs and buy add-ons from Salesforce AppExchange.

The presentation was on standard benefits that companies get from cloud technology. However, the “large enterprise vendor” audience challenged the presenter with standard objections typically raised by big companies: how does Fireclay Tile handle issues like security, portability, vendor lock-in, etc.  As a small business owner, Eric was stumped by all these terms but his response was very simple: he trusted his vendor.

This small business example is similar to how consumers trust our electric, internet and telephone service providers.   Local governments are expected to provide basic services like road maintenance and emergency services.  What happens when the local government does not provide services they are trusted with?  The representatives are voted out!  What if our cell phone provider or handset manufacturer fails to provide quality service and/or functionality?  We dump them!

My observation from the questions posed to Eric was that some vendors apply barriers faced by cloud computing adoption at large enterprises to small enterprises.  The trust factor that small businesses expect and obtain from their cloud service providers is causing the increased adoption of cloud computing at small businesses.  And if those cloud service providers do not meet that trust, those customers will “vote” them out by choosing another service provider.

The business transformation opportunities provided by cloud computing is being embraced by small businesses as evidenced by the Fireclay example.  Cloud adoption is being kicked off by organizations brave enough to making bold decisions.  Eventually, those technologies will be utilized long enough to make larger organizations start adoption on a larger scale. Look for a future post from me to explain the process of evaluating current business processes to determine fit for cloud adoption.

More Stories By Larry Carvalho

Larry Carvalho runs Robust Cloud LLC, an advisory services company helping various ecosystem players develop a strategy to take advantage of cloud computing. As the 2010-12 Instructor of Cloud Expo's popular Cloud Computing Bootcamp, he has already led the bootcamp in New York, Silicon Valley, and Prague, receiving strong positive feedback from attendees about the value gained at these events. Carvalho has facilitated all-day sessions at customer locations to set a clear roadmap and gain consensus among attendees on strategy and product direction. He has participated in multiple discussion panels focused on cloud computing trends at information technology events, and he has delivered all-day cloud computing training to customers in conjunction with CloudCamps. To date, his role has taken him to clients in three continents.