Dragon tells cloud businesses to focus on service

Outsourcery boss Piers Linney warns cloud providers that collaboration and investment are key to the industry’s future success

Cloud computing entrepreneur and BBC Dragons’ Den star Piers Linney (pictured) has warned industry peers they must shift their sales focus from technology to services if they want to woo more customers to the cloud.

Opening the CloudExpo conference in London, Linney said: “When I walk around the event I have to say I’m not seeing many exhibitors turning technology into services by offering customers a clear and all-encompassing cloud SLA [service-level agreement]. I hope that changes in the coming years.”

He pointed out that, because the cloud involves so many different technology disciplines – including infrastructure, networking and telecoms – collaboration among specialist industry partners is essential if providers are going to offer a credible, end-to-end service for customers.

“It’s too big a game for one company to deal with on their own,” he said. “Anybody that thinks they can is going to have to raise a couple of billion pounds.”

No longer should the industry talk about convergence, he added. 

“It’s happened. We’re already converged,” he said.

Linney added that both collaboration and major investment are vital if the industry is to meet future demand for its services in a sustainable fashion. “I recently heard that, if the cloud industry was a country, it would be the fifth largest consumer of power in the world. That simply cannot continue,” he said.

We have to change the technology all the way down if the world is going to function in a decade’s time

Piers Linney, Outsourcery

According to Linney, it is essential that industry players join forces to improve datacentre and cloud efficiency at a fundamental level. “We have to change the technology all the way down if the world is going to function in a decade’s time,” he said.

Despite these warnings, Linney heaped praise on the industry for the progress it had made in the past five years, noting that, when his company Outsourcery started in 2008, few customers or partners had even heard of the term "cloud computing".

“Back then, it was like the distant light of an approaching train. Nobody was really bothered about it.” he said. “We even sat down with a branding agency to find a different way of describing what we did. We came up with the term ‘hosted IT and communication’ because we daren’t use the word ‘cloud’.”

Now, he said, it was easy to forget how nascent the cloud sector still is. “I find it incredibly exciting that we’ve gone from that to events like this in such a short space of time,” he said.

And he welcomed the fact that more companies are recognising that a cloud model is the only viable future for business computing. “If you look at the exponential growth in data and computing requirements, cloud is the only solution. Islands of infrastructure sitting in offices or company datacentres just won’t be able to cope,” he said.

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