As vendors and channel partners line up their offerings for IaaS, we at Digital Bridge Partners think its foundational that Infrastructure as a Service be segmented as to what the Service component is.
What makes this important is not only that the end customer needs to understand what is being purchased but that vendors and providers need clarity on where and how they will focus their GTM efforts.
We’ve segmented IaaS Service component as follows with some definitions and indications of typical providers. If you are a Cloud Management Vendor, Cloud Aggregator/Distributor, or Service or Solution Provider, three things are imperative regarding your GTM efforts: 1) where will you focus, 2) who will you partner with and 3) what makes your offering competitive/differentiated.
So, what are the three layers of service and who does what?
Host Management is the compute layer which is typically provided by a Service Provider (hoster). This management layer which typically includes an SLA is driven out of the Service Provider’s Data Center and is based on the provisioning of Storage, CPU, Memory and Networking. Most Service Providers who offer a “White Label” solution (see my post on the White Label Channel Model) to Solution Providers typically have their SLAs stop at the host management layer.
Workload Management is the SLA typically provided by either a Service Provider or a Solution Provider (Cloud Integrator formerly a VAR) beyond the core compute layer. This typically includes managing the virtual server, the OS, middleware and the core application (Workload) that sits in the public cloud. Workload Management also includes things like creating a catalog and managing self-service automation driving the on-boarding of additional users, as well as setting user or group access/workload parameters. This is one of the areas where we see some but not enough Solution Providers building professional and managed service competency. It’s a core area for VARs in adding value for customers in the cloud and becoming Cloud Integrators!
InterCloud Management. The antecedent term for Cloud Computing was the InterCloud and though that term is no longer in the vernacular, its relevant to understanding how IaaS will evolve over the next few years. Just as businesses use many different suppliers for IT today, in the Cloud, companies will leverage more than one IaaS (and SaaS and PaaS) providers across cloudified workloads. The question is who will manage these disparate cloud instances. Who will manage application performance, determine which SLAs are being met, evaluate how to tradeoff cost/performance to arbitrage different IaaS providers? The InterCloud Management layer, which today is in its infancy, will be managed by Cloud Integrators morphing to become Cloud Brokers offering Managed Services that cover IaaS in addition to SaaS and PaaS Cloud instances. These partners will become the true trusted advisors and ultimately the ‘gateway’ through which new cloud solutions must pass. Partners who get to this spot will make A LOT of money.