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Whilst taking five, sipping coffee at the very noisy and busy Cloud World Forum (CWF) in Olympia, London yesterday,  we got talking to a guy who had travelled over from Germany for the event.  He explained that his primary interest was getting a better understanding of Google Enterprise Apps as many of the pharma clients his IT solutions company served in Germany back home were expressing an interest in it.

Interestingly, we were at CWF partly to ask about the effect the triumvirate (Amazon EC2, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud) were having on the other cloud service providers. The growing rivalry between the cloud offerings of each company has been a huge talking point of the industry, but what about everyone else? We talked to some cloud professionals at Cloud World Forum to try and figure it out. The answers were enlightening.

The [Big] Three Bears

Scott Holmes, sales director for Colt Communication Services, noted that one of the biggest things Google, Amazon, and Microsoft did for the industry was make people pay attention to it. “They present an opportunity because they are creating the tone that says ‘Yes, people need to do this’,” Holmes said. “But they’re not right for everyone.”

Looking at the market, Colt took advantage of the segments that the Big Three weren’t touching. “We’re really about getting companies that are more complex than a start-up so they can’t go with the standard stuff, but not big enough for their own IT,” he said.

To do this, Colt sells through channel partners to allow their clients control of their own cloud apps yet provide reliability through Colt’s infrastructure.

Many agreed that the Big Three presented opportunity by driving companies to the cloud and increasing uptake of the concept. For some of these companies, the answer is not to cancel out the Big Three’s influence; it’s to capitalise on it. Martin Bishop, global head of hosting services for Telstra Global, said that offerings from the Big Three are still very relevant for “lower risk” operations, but the “crown jewels” are still not found in the cloud.

Hybrid Still Rules

Instead, many companies need different varieties of cloud for dedicated services. This hybrid approach reflects the fact that are still some discrete business units that many organisations are reluctant to move into the cloud.

“Overtime, I can see businesses like ours consuming what they (the Big Three) offer and blending it for our users,” Bishop said. Chris Kendregan noted that the IT service provider Adapt also uses the hybrid approach because many companies need apps from the public cloud but also desire a private cloud. Security is a big part of this. “Some customers come to us and say, ‘Do you know which data centre our data is in?’” he said. “We’re a UK-sovereign based company and we can say we are not subject to regulations elsewhere.”

Sherlock Doris, regional sales director of NaviSite, agreed, saying that knowing where the data lives is important for many of their customers. Speaking about the extensive platforms of the Big Three, Doris said, “Unless you are a company of 30,000 plus, you will be on a shared platform. We know where our servers are, where our data sets.” He also added that his company can guarantee alignment in a particular geographical location, an offering that’s only increasing in value and importance.

Don’t let the hype around the Golden Trio’s cloud offerings force you into thinking that they are the best and only option for your company. As we discovered today, variety is still king in the land of the cloud.

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