How it pros buy cloud servers


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What are IT pros looking for in a cloud server provider? This report explores in detail the cloud servers purchase criteria that today's buyers care about most, providing data and descriptions that shed some light on a cloudy marketplace. It also examines the product research habits of these same buyers, revealing the information sources behind their most important IT purchase decisions.

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How it pros buy cloud servers

  1. 1. Voice of IT TM Cloudy with a High Chance of Sales How IT Pros Buy Cloud ServersFor today’s IT pros, the forecast is calling for clouds! With all the benefits that cloud servershave to offer, the future looks bright for small and midsized businesses – especially thosewho are looking to minimize capital expenditures while scaling quickly and adding newcapabilities. It’s also good news for cloud server providers – especially those who have adifferentiated product offering and a clear understanding of what cloud buyers want.
  2. 2. Take a peek into the minds of cloud buyers. 73% of IT pros recently surveyed already use cloud servers, are planning to use cloud servers within the year, or are actively investigating cloud servers as an alternative to on- premise servers. But for many IT pros, one cloud server looks much like another, which begs the question: In a commodity market, how can cloud server providers stand out from the pack? And what exactly are today’s IT pros looking for in a cloud server provider? Use of cloud servers 27% 36% Already use cloud servers Planning to use cloud servers within the year Actively investigating cloud servers No interest in cloud servers 28% 9% Sample = 332 Here’s what we’ve learned firsthand at Spiceworks, where over 2M IT pros come to research products and services, interact with vendors, and make IT purchase decisions.CLOUDY WITH A HIGH CHANCE OF SALES: HOW IT PROS BUY CLOUD SERVERS 2
  3. 3. Not all cloud buyers are created equal. IT pros who are shopping for cloud servers are looking for the same thing – the best solution for the money. But how they go about determining which option is “best” depends on a variety of criteria. To help clear the air, we’ve grouped cloud buyers into five different categories based on the things they care about most. It goes without saying that the majority of buyers fall into more than one category. But by understanding these profiles, you can get a clearer sense of who your potential buyers are – and where you need to focus your sales and marketing efforts. The “Nuts and Bolts” Buyer This buyer cares mainly about whether or not the solution is functional and within budget. Questions this buyer might ask: • Can the solution support our OS platforms and run our applications? What web services integrations are available to us? • Does the solution meet our I/O requirements? What will the latency, response times and throughput be for our applications? • What’s the pricing model and cost? What’s my monthly expenditure going to be? • What are the storage options and costs? 72% of IT pros surveyed ranked “nuts-and-bolts” factors as either #1 or #2 in importance when selecting a cloud provider.CLOUDY WITH A HIGH CHANCE OF SALES: HOW IT PROS BUY CLOUD SERVERS 3
  4. 4. The “CYA” Buyer This buyer operates in a high-risk environment or highly regulated industry, resulting in heightened concerns across all areas of security. Questions this buyer might ask: • What data protection strategies are offered? Backups, RAID, mirroring, replication, CDP, snapshots? • What compliance support does the provider offer? Is the provider compliant with FISMA, PCI DSS, HIPAA, SOX, GLBA, NERC CIP, or other regulations that are relevant to my industry? • What reporting options and audit support are available? Who has access to the audit trail? • What does the provider offer in terms of physical and systems security? What are the provider’s logical access control mechanisms? What security controls are in place from a facility perspective? • What disaster recovery and business continuity plans does the provider have in place? How will our stuff be protected in the event of a power outage, facility disaster, local disaster and regional disaster? How quickly can operations be restored if the main system goes down? • What’s the problem management process? Who do I call when I have a problem? How are problems logged, communicated, prioritized and escalated? 60% of IT pros surveyed ranked these considerations as either #1 or #2 in importance when selecting a cloud provider.CLOUDY WITH A HIGH CHANCE OF SALES: HOW IT PROS BUY CLOUD SERVERS 4
  5. 5. The “Hot-Rod” Buyer This buyer is all about ensuring high performance to support demanding applications and even more demanding users. Questions this buyer might ask: • What uptime and performance SLAs does the provider offer? Are there penalties in place when SLAs are missed? • What’s the provisioning time for new servers? • What are the scalability options? Can computing resources be expanded and contracted automatically? • Does the provider offer 24-hour customer service? • What incident response time SLAs does the provider offer? Are there penalties in place when SLAs are missed? 27% of IT pros surveyed ranked performance factors as either #1 or #2 in importance when selecting a cloud provider. The “Cloud Control” Buyer This buyer wants a lot of visibility into – and control over – the cloud environment, from technical elements to contracts and billing. Questions this buyer might ask: • What options do we have for monitoring / visibility? Does the provider give us access to real-time performance monitoring and statistics? • What’s the management dashboard/control panel like? Is the interface easy to use? What capabilities does it provide? • What are the options regarding contract length and terms of service? Does the provider offer the flexibility of a short-term agreement? • What are the multitenancy options? Can each department be billed per cloud instance per hour? Can we impose billing limits? • What are our exit options? Will the provider help us move our applications and data to another location when the time comes? 15% of IT pros surveyed these factors as either #1 or #2 in importance when selecting a cloud provider.CLOUDY WITH A HIGH CHANCE OF SALES: HOW IT PROS BUY CLOUD SERVERS 5
  6. 6. The “Warm and Fuzzy” Buyer This buyer draws confidence from “softer” proof points and from the opinions of third parties. Questions this buyer might ask: • Does the provider have experience in my specific industry? Does the provider have experience with companies of my size? • How long has the provider been in the market? • What customer references can the provider give me? • Does the provider have a well-known name? Are they recognized in the market? • What does the industry have to say about the provider? • Is the provider local? Do we have a choice as to where our stuff is going to reside geographically? • What’s it like to work with the provider? Do I like them? Do I trust them? Are these people that I can see myself working with long-term? 13% of IT pros surveyed ranked “warm and fuzzy” considerations as either #1 or #2 in importance when selecting a cloud provider.CLOUDY WITH A HIGH CHANCE OF SALES: HOW IT PROS BUY CLOUD SERVERS 6
  7. 7. What matters most when buying cloud servers? We asked IT pros to rank the factors they take into account when selecting a vendor for cloud servers, with 1 being most important. Here are the results: 1 Cost, pricing model, and billing options 2 Data protection and security 3 Disaster recovery and business continuity 4 Performance and scalability 5 Monitoring and management options 6 Architecture support and integration 7 Vendor support 8 The vendor’s industry experience and time in the market 9 Audit and compliance support 10 The vendor’s location But wait, there’s more… There are many other factors that IT pros may look at when evaluating a cloud server vendor. Some buyers will bring unique considerations to the buying process, asking questions such as: • Does the provider have global reach / experience? Can the provider handle international accounting and regulatory issues? Can they provide international support? • Does the provider use green power? What environmentally responsible policies and practices does the provider have in place? • Does the provider offer ancillary support services? For example, will the provider help us port data and applications to the cloud? Will the provider help us optimize or tweak applications to take full advantage of the cloud platform?CLOUDY WITH A HIGH CHANCE OF SALES: HOW IT PROS BUY CLOUD SERVERS 7
  8. 8. Cloud buyers are on the hunt. Regardless of their profile, cloud buyers are always on the lookout for solutions and providers that meet their needs. So, where do IT pros go for information on cloud server solutions and providers? Our research shows that IT pros in Spiceworks consult a wide range of resources before making a buying decision. Most of them rely on a combination of vendor and partner content, IT industry content, and candid social/peer feedback from IT forums such as Spiceworks. How IT pros research IT purchases Vendor % of IT pros who use these content 74% sources when researching IT purchases IT publisher content 68% Social/peer content 65% Vendor partner content 44% Analyst Research 36% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% Vendor and partner content Brand credibility is critical in the IT arena. Why? IT pros often rely on vendor and partner websites, webinars, white papers, spec sheets, etc. to research features and specifications, pricing, support information, and other details. “Nuts and Bolts” buyers in particular value this type of research as they comparison shop based on discrete and knowable facts. 74% of IT pros in Spiceworks turn to the vendors they trust to help them make informed purchasing decisions. 44% seek out content from vendor partners.CLOUDY WITH A HIGH CHANCE OF SALES: HOW IT PROS BUY CLOUD SERVERS 8
  9. 9. IT publisher content Industry publications are another highly used source of information. IT pros look to these websites and magazines for ratings, reviews and comparisons. These sources are often perceived by IT pros as being more objective than vendor content. And because of its high visibility, industry content is typically well researched and well vetted, resulting in info that’s generally very reliable. 68% of IT pros in Spiceworks refer to IT publications when making a buying decision. Social/peer content IT pros trust their colleagues and peers, so it makes sense that they seek out social IT sites, vendor support forums, and other sources of user-generated content to research the opinions and real-life experiences of others. Social IT sites like Spiceworks are an ideal place to find this type of content, such as company information and product ratings and reviews. In Spiceworks alone, IT pros can find information on approximately 100 different cloud server companies. 65% of IT pros in Spiceworks get information from social sites as part of the research process. Analyst research Industry analysts provide a wealth of comparisons, detailed information on products and services, and financial metrics such as ROI, TCO and TCA. IT pros often use this content to help generate a business case, but our research shows that Spiceworks IT pros (who are primarily in SMB) rely less on this kind of info when making their purchase decisions. Only 36% of IT pros in Spiceworks refer to industry analyst content as part of the research process.CLOUDY WITH A HIGH CHANCE OF SALES: HOW IT PROS BUY CLOUD SERVERS 9
  10. 10. Opportunity is in the air… With clouds in the forecast, today’s cloud server providers have a unique opportunity to expand market share. Take another look at the cloud buyer profiles we showed you. Which buyers are you hoping to attract? Which buyers best match your strengths? And which buyers aren’t fully covered by your strategies and tactics? When a “Hot-Rod” or a “Warm and Fuzzy” comes knocking on your virtual door, what answers will you have for them? What about other buyers? Are there areas of your solution – or your pitch – that need to be fine-tuned? Finally, it might help to look beyond the four walls of your company and consider your presence in the places IT pros trust for their research. Can these cloud buyers find you in their favorite IT forums? Will they read about you in industry articles? Do you have options for connecting with the buyers you want to reach? Finding ways to say Yes to these questions can give you a winning edge over other vendors – and help you truly shine in a cloudy marketplace! About Spiceworks As a software provider with a dynamic community of over two million IT professionals, Spiceworks captures unique insights into the IT needs and buying patterns of organizations across all industries, and provides a direct path to reaching more than 25% of the world’s SMB companies. Thousands of companies have marketed their products and services within Spiceworks. The contents in this report are a result of primary research performed by Spiceworks. Unless otherwise noted, the entire contents distributed as part of this report are copyrighted by Spiceworks. As such any information made available by any means in this report may not be copied, reproduced, duplicated, published, displayed, transmitted, distributed, given, sold, traded, resold, marketed, offered for sale, modified to create derivative works or otherwise exploited for valuable consideration without prior written consent by Spiceworks. For more information visit This report contains information of fact relating to parties other than Spiceworks. Although the information have been obtained from, and are based on sources that Spiceworks believes to be reliable, Spiceworks does not guarantee the accuracy, and any such information might be incomplete or condensed. Any estimates included in this report constitute Spiceworks’ judgment as of the date of compilation, and are subject to change without notice. This report is for information purposes only. All responsibility for any interpretations or actions based on the information or commentary contained within this report lie solely with the recipient. All rights reserved. 2012.CLOUDY WITH A HIGH CHANCE OF SALES: HOW IT PROS BUY CLOUD SERVERS 10