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How to manage traditional IT vs. cloud services providers

As organizations change the way they consume technology resources, cloud services providers emerge as worthy challengers to traditional vendors. As such, they require a deft IT management touch, our tweet jammers say.

Although cloud computing has now been around for a number of years, the available offerings have reached new levels of maturity. Today, CIOs and IT managers are increasingly turning to the cloud for an expanded range of functions, including business intelligence, desktop provisioning and disaster recovery. As enterprises move from an on-premises computing model to one that is more utility-based, it seems cloud is becoming associated less with hype and experimentation, and viewed more as a worthy, reliable contender to traditional services and hardware and software platforms.

But while this shift sounds like the harbinger of doom for traditional enterprise vendors, cloud technology is still relatively new -- even for larger enterprises -- meaning that dealing with cloud vendors presents its own set of challenges. As such, it's critical for IT leaders to understand and thoroughly articulate requirements to their cloud services providers.

In this SearchCIO tweet jam recap on the theme of cloud provider management -- in which Aquent CIO Larry Bolick shared his expertise -- we asked #CIOChat-ers how IT departments should manage cloud services providers versus more traditional vendors.

How does dealing with traditional vendors vs. cloud services providers differ?

Bolick and frequent tweet jammer Tim Crawford were first to chime in on how the two vendor groups vary, highlighting that, unlike their long-established brethren, cloud vendors usually start their sales pitches by focusing on the unique requirements of the customer, particularly the codependent components that make up its cloud ecosystem:

Dan Shappir listed further examples:

The myriad ways in which these two types of providers are divergent means enterprises must have varied approaches for communicating requirements to cloud vendors, SearchCIO Executive Editor Linda Tucci pointed out. That's a skill many enterprise IT leaders are still trying to figure out, tweeted Crawford:

Does transparency vary by provider or by deployment model?

Despite the long list of differences between the two types of enterprise IT vendors, some of the variances are not so clear-cut. Fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD), a sales strategy commonly associated with certain large technology vendors, was one such characteristic that was not easily pinned on one group versus another:

Brian Katz tweeted that cloud services are usually standards-based, but Andi Mann replied that there are traditional vendors, such as Red Hat or SUSE, that are in fact open, while some cloud providers are not. Mann suggests that the level of transparency lies in the specific provider:

Should newer cloud vendors seek 'enterprise DNA'?

Growing legions of enterprise technology vendors are jumping on the cloud bandwagon. IBM's acquisition of Softlayer last year, in the midst of declining revenue as a result of its lack of cloud computing offerings up to that point, is one noteworthy example, according to Forbes. A tweet jam participant brought up CA's eight current software as a service (SaaS) offerings as a case in point. But as other chatters noted, newer cloud services providers also have a lot to learn and take away from their traditional counterparts:

Want to weigh in? Tell us how you manage more traditional versus newer cloud services providers in the comments section below.

This SearchCIO #CIOChat recap is part of our tweet jam on the theme of cloud provider management. For more recaps or to get information about our next hosted chat, follow @SearchCIO on Twitter.

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How do you define requirements to cloud services providers versus traditional vendors?