Why cloud computing location matters

Glocal, like many transatlantic buzzwords, is both annoying and compelling. Like cloud computing, another concept brought to us during the internet revolution, it holds some truth, in that many businesses like to buy global brands, with all of their associations of quality and consistency, delivered to their doorstep. But, like the idea of businesses relying on public clouds, this has become a flawed concept with significant repercussions.

UK CIOs are frankly sick of the cynical ‘technology refresh cycles’, typical of the large software vendors, when they ‘End of Life’ perfectly good products, forcing customers whose entire businesses may depend on that technology to upgrade, like it – or just deal with it.

Happily, the traditional software licensing model is under significant pressure to change with the times, in line with new ways that we are now accessing and consuming applications and computing services. Cloud computing is set to fundamentally change the way we use and pay for the technology that runs UK businesses. But where UK CIOs buy their cloud services from matters for six main reasons:-

1. Reputation matters. Global technology vendors have been focussing more and more on the small and medium sized businesses to help make their revenue numbers. But UK businesses like dealing with UK businesses as well as having access to industry leading technologies that only the global vendors can afford to develop.

2. Service matters. Following a decade of consolidation amongst IT vendors, the service ethos of many smaller vendors has disappeared and the reseller channel, which once looked after smaller customers has gone the way of the local bank manager. With less choice and often downgraded support levels, UK businesses are experiencing atrocious and worsening customer service.

3. Size matters. While consumers are happy to use public cloud applications and services, such as Google, Skype, iPlayer, iTunes etc. the situation is very different for business customers. They demand a degree of security, compliance and risk mitigation. Private cloud providers, supported by leading global vendors, offer these real benefits, as well as the peace of mind the customers want by tapping into those big brands, so they still get the best technologies the IT industry has to offer, but indirectly.

4. Local matters. The cloud is changing the face of the IT industry, with private cloud services being provided to UK businesses by UK-based cloud services companies that own the data centres and infrastructure from which these services can be delivered. Very different than public cloud services that can be delivered from anywhere but are not intended to be end-to-end solutions. Interestingly, no global vendor has yet announced plans to invest in their own local data centres and network capability in every single international market for one good reason – it would severely compromise their profitability.

5. Where data is stored matters. While storing music, pictures or Social Media messages outside of the UK is acceptable to most consumers, UK CIOs need to comply with strict local and European laws about where data can be processed. There now seems to be a natural geographical demarcation between public cloud and private cloud; with the former being delivered by global vendors for a global audience, while private cloud is locally provisioned by local companies and for local companies, to their exact specification.

6. Who you turn to for help matters. None of the global vendors are in a position to provide the practical help UK businesses need because they simply don’t have the localised infrastructure to support private cloud services. This then is one of the key inflection points of the technology industry today, when CIOs can make or break their reputation based on how they manage the transition to the cloud.

It seems a few forward-thinking pioneers have realised that as IT matters more and more to UK businesses, a capable local UK cloud provider is the technology partnership choice that will deliver best for them. Perhaps glocal finally makes sense thanks to cloud computing.

Ricky Hudson joined Star as Chief Executive Officer in October 2008 from MLL Telecom where he successfully expanded the business through strategic relationships with BT and Virgin Media, as well as acquiring two national spectrum licenses in the 2007 Ofcom auctions. Ricky has been a high flier since his TMT career began with Digital Equipment, where he became the youngest ever District Manager at the age of 29. Joining C&W in 1996, he built up its European ISP business in 1999 through a series of acquisitions before moving into a VP role focused on global M&A activity. Other notable roles include, CEO of Telecity, the leader in pan-European data centres, where he engineered a successful turnaround and take-private with 3i which culminated in the eventual merger with Redbus.