What steps can IaaS providers take to stand out in an evolving market?

How IaaS providers react to increasing commoditization might determine which players succeed and which fail, according to TM Forum CEO Martin Creaner.

I had a follow-up question to your recent response to an inquiry about IaaS providers avoiding commoditization. Can you please expand on how cloud vendors can differentiate themselves? Is it really that difficult to stand out? 

As an example, here's how we are positioning our Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering to customers. We highlight these key points for them:

  • We built our own cloud platform -- and, we believe, a better cloud platform -- on top of the free version of Citrix XenServer.
  • A former chief scientist at a major CDN provider designed our platform from day one to avoid oversubscribing our virtual machine (VM) servers.
  • We offer a 100% service-level agreement (SLA) across the board for our services and have a 13-year track record of zero downtime.
  • Owning a content delivery network (CDN) allows us to cover the entire cloud ecosystem from data center to end-user device.
  • Amazon is the only other company in the cloud industry that can make these claims, but Amazon's SLA and outage track records are not very good. Developing our own intellectual property and code also allows us to deliver features to our clients faster.
  • We feel cloud IaaS and CDN go together like peanut butter and jelly. We just cannot see how one will survive without the other.

Are we on the right track, in your opinion?

I totally agree that cloud IaaS and CDNs go hand in hand. The big challenge for so many IaaS providers over the coming years will be how they decide to react to the accelerating commoditization we are seeing in how providers offer and deliver IaaS today. The role these players take in this evolving space will be something to watch, as it might determine which business models will survive while others fail.

This was last published in January 2013

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Honestly speaking, I am least impressed with the way you are highlighting your services to your customers. There is no appealing way for the customers as these kind of wording we hear day in a out from the business boasting about what they offer.

You may be offering these services in actual but you need to change the way you are approaching your customers. Start with Why you are doing this, What are your specialities and then make an appeal to the customers. Gut decisions from customers not come in telling them what you have an offer for them rather you need to tell what you believe in yourself, how different you are from the status quo and how you meet the customers needs
You want to do better than Amazon? Don't use PCs to provide I/O intensive provisioned servers; commodity PCs and blade servers don't have the scalability and security built in. You want to do better than Amazon, go back to mainframes. Provisioning is better, security is built-in and because the machine code is different script kiddies can't hack into them because you can't get privileged access, you trigger a buffer overflow on a zSystem mainframe, you get a crashed task that is evicted without harm, not a way to 0wn the b0x. And the I/O bandwidth is such that one mainframe at about $75,000 can replace 1000 blade servers, using about $90 a month in electricity for the mainframe vs. about $6000 for the blades.