Michele Burgess is Avnet Services Alliance Manager, enabling partners to capitalise on the increasing demand for IT services by augmenting in-house teams with experts in Cloud, Digital and IOT solutions.
Being a provider of IT solutions is sometimes not easy. I often feel for our partners. Over a coffee last month, one partner was explaining that after 12 months of hard work, they finally found themselves in front of their client to discuss migrating to the cloud.
It had taken them months of hard work to convince their customer that a cloud-based application was the right solution. They’d successfully completed a number of sales pitches and addressed a succession of stakeholders. On this journey they had sat in countless meetings, clocked up thousands of miles, drank too much coffee, sat up late at night producing slide decks and quoted numerous experts on why cloud is the best solution.
They were saying they had conveyed to their client that most organisations run on a number of IT platforms, which makes budgeting for and maintaining skills in-house a challenge. Their client had agreed that the IT department was looking to control costs whilst remaining responsive to the business needs. And so together they discussed the introduction of a robust, responsive and cost-effective cloud solution that addressed these concerns. The client was still very nervous about choosing the right cloud solution. Understandably it was a big step for them to take, even though they knew they had to take it at some point. This is where over coffee, our partner invited Avnet to step in and provide some guidance around the technology.
So a couple of weeks later we hit the road again, armed with fresh slides and motorway coffee. At the customer’s offices we sat in a smart board room with IT engineers in jeans and trainers through to the CTO in his tailored suit. They were a really friendly and open bunch, which I like because it makes it easier to have more frank conversations. The client wasted no time in saying they had some concerns about the risk of moving to the cloud. I knew it was important to understand these, because understanding these concerns was how we were going to get to the right solution. Experience has taught me, if the customer doesn't believe the solution is right it will always fail long-term. So picking up the whiteboard marker, I asked them to talk me through these risks as they saw them.
Previously they had technical problems scaling some of the applications in their data centre. So they wanted something already at full production scale. The CTO continued to explain they had also invested heavily in IBM software and didn't want to throw that investment away. Speed was another important factor. They couldn't afford to have production systems down for lengthy periods whilst they on-boarded. So on-boarding them and their data needed to be smooth and predictable.
Even though we were going to only move certain workloads to the cloud they wanted a safety net and the ability to move back again if things didn't work out. A jovial engineer chipped in remarking they wanted to keep their options open. Then from the corner of the room another engineer stressed their applications have developed very fast and when moving to the cloud, they couldn't afford for application enhancements to stop or even slow down. Finally there was the price. The CTO explained that underlying this project was the need to make their IT budget do more.
With all these factors in mind, we started discussing some options. Given their investment in IBM software, we set off exploring the IBM Cloud and introduced the client to the ‘IBM Bridge to Cloud’ programme. Under this programme, IBM would respect the investment they had already made in IBM technology and would charge them only the difference of what it takes for IBM to deliver the service to the client from the IBM cloud. One of the other benefits of this programme is that if the client at some point in the future decided to bring the workload back to their data centre, IBM would waive the reinstatement fees.
Immediately you could see the interest pick up on the faces of the client; this gave them the safety net and flexibility they wanted. Being the IBM cloud meant it was already production-ready for large enterprises. So what about application enhancements? Well IBM has publically stated IBM enhancements will be delivered to the IBM’s cloud users first. With that concern covered, migration and implementation was the only item outstanding. Fortunately for me, this is where Avnet comes into its own.
I was able to explain Avnet has a significant amount of skill, resources and experience around IBM Systems Middleware. Effectively with their IT provider (our partner) we would work together to manage the entire process. Avnet has developed an excellent middleware automation tool called TALOS, which makes the process of migrating to the cloud far quicker and more reliable. We talked at length about developing custom software that would help their workloads on the IBM cloud integrate with their business applications that sat elsewhere. Then we chatted about creating a bespoke business intelligence dashboard senior field staff could access from their mobile devices. I explained how we could give their IT team training, so they could step back in and manage the systems themselves if they wanted. Seeing how this could be done with minimum risk to the business, the client suddenly very quickly shifted the conversation to timescales and quotes.
At the end of the meeting as we were walking out, the partner turned to me and said, “I'm so pleased you were there today. I know it is the right solution for them and I know they are going to see massive benefits, but you've really helped them see how to do it and provided them with a way forward”. These are the sort of outcomes I really like and why I do this job. Technology is a very powerful tool. If you apply technology in the right way, it can be truly transformational. You can create better business outcomes, accelerate success and make the world a better place to live, work and play.
If you would like to hear more on Bridge to Cloud and how Avnet can help you or your customers benefit from the program then contact me at Michele.Burgess[at]avnet.com