Delivering in an ‘as a service’ world

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Understanding cloud, and how cloud is empowering businesses to move fast and deliver value, is critical. It’s a question we encounter each and every day, says Jason Sharp, director for cloud and hosting at First Distribution, during his keynote address at the ITWeb cloud webinar series this week.

“At First Distribution, we live and breathe cloud,” he says. “We have a dedicated cloud division that focuses on how we enable the channel to then enable end-customers to successfully implement cloud.”

The first thing is plumbing into the business, he says.

“A lot of people ask me what cloud is... it’s how technology is delivered on demand over the Internet in a pay as you go model. It is not necessarily different technology from what may be on-premises, but it's rather the delivery mechanism, as well as the billing mechanism, that clearly differentiates the cloud.”

The ‘as-a-service’ world

Sharp says of the various ‘as a service’ cloud computing models, the most popular is infrastructure as a service (IaaS), because infrastructure forms the basic building blocks for networking, storage and compute.

The next layer is platform as a service (PaaS), he says. "With PaaS, the infrastructure is managed on your behalf and all you have to worry about is the deployment and management of your application layer."

The third element is software as a service (SaaS), which is a combination of IaaS and PaaS, where the end-user simply needs to log on to the application where the infrastructure is maintained, while the deployment of the relevant applications is maintained in the background.

This, he says, extends to another layer – ‘x as a service’ – with various elements within each one of these layers being offered as a managed service, which is a big opportunity for a lot of providers.

“Resellers, for example, have to find their niche in supplying a specific service to an end-customer to assist them to achieve their goals.”

Ready to deploy

The benefits of cloud are numerous and well-known, says Sharp.

“The first is ease of use. Either you, your customers or resellers can simply log on to a public cloud provider Web site like AWS, and begin to spin up services.

"It's flexible, you can switch at the flick of a button. Many of the utilities provided by public cloud providers are ready made and ready to deploy.

"From a cost-effectiveness point of view, you have the ability to switch on applications or switch on infrastructure as and when you require it. And switch it off. You can also scale up and scale down your infrastructure requirements depending on what is happening in your business.”

He cites the example of Black Friday sales. “A retailer, for example, would want to scale up their resources in order to manage an influx of customers on an e-commerce portal, without having to invest in resources to handle the scalability and high performance needed. The public cloud providers assume the risk that their infrastructure platforms are not used all day, every day, which enables users to scale up and scale down using any form of high-performance computing.”

But it goes further than this. Public cloud can be considered a utility provider, because you can get everything from analytics, response, logging and more, he explains. “There are many sub-services and sub-products that are included. For example, if you only look at the database, there are multiple types of databases available from AWS.”

Business challenge mapping

From the point of view of a reseller, when deciding which services to offer, a good place to start is business challenge mapping, or identifying business challenges. The question is which of the utilities available from AWS can be used in order to solve those challenges.

“Any cloud implementation requires a six stage process, which we refer to as 'cloud catalyst',” says Sharp. “This is a programme we run with resellers and resellers can run with their end-customers to ensure that everybody is on the same page in the delivery of our technology.”

The end result is the growth phase, which is very important for a partner, because the partner can begin to identify how it's going to generate revenue, profit and, ultimately, cash flow, he concludes.

First Distribution sponsored a webinar on How cloud is empowering businesses to move faster and deliver value as part of an ITWeb cloud webinar series from 10-12 November 2020.
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