The enterprise cloud market has established itself. It is not monolithic, however. Randy Schrock, the director of BT One Services for BT Americas, told Telco Transformation that there is a wide range of both providers and customers.
On the vendor side, the differences between offerings from small, medium and large vendors are significant. One size provider isn't inherently better than another. Rather, the needs of their likely customers demand a different approach.
There is just as much variation on the customer side, Schrock said during Part I of the interview. Many organizations are highly knowledgeable and have exacting technical demands. They also require insights into the commercial ramifications of the transition, Schrock said. Others don't have nearly as much insight.
Telco Transformation: How would you characterize the adoption of enterprise cloud?
Randy Schrock: I think we've exhausted the steep part of the bell curve of the early adopters and are clearly now into the mainstream adoption part of the curve. We've got large organizations that are not the ones that are going to do leading edge, bleeding edge stuff. They want to see early adopters do some proof of concepts and case studies and some referenceability [studies]. We're clearly now into the adoption curve of the mainline industry... We're seeing very large organizations getting into the space.
TT: How would you characterize the technical evolution?
RS: The pace of the evolution has not slowed down. It was changing pretty quickly a few years ago when enterprise cloud first came out. That pace of maturity and evolution continues. What we're seeing is that the Microsofts, the Ciscos and others all are innovating at a very rapid pace.
The technology continues to evolve, it continues to improve [but] unfortunately, we don't see any common interoperability scenarios. It remains pretty proprietary to the vendors. They are not interested in open interop scenarios.
TT: How are the enterprise cloud vendors differentiating their products? What are table stakes and what is in play, so to speak?
RS: I think the [offering from] smaller mid-market vendors, such as 8x8 Inc. (Nasdaq: EGHT) and Rackspace , is one-size-fits-all, opex-based, set amount per user per month [with a single] product. The next level up is organizations that start to look at enterprise-class scenarios. For instance, one that integrates emergency services or an add-on product, such as a recording service or a contact center solution. The next step up, of which BT a great example, is single contract, end-to-end, four 9s SLAs.
It is sort of small, medium, large. It is not that larger is better than smaller. It is just aimed at a specific company profile.
TT: How does BT serve the 192 countries in its footprint?
RS: We obviously don't have cloud data centers in 192 countries. That would be virtually impossible. We do have data centers strategically located around the globe that give us the ability to reach those countries with a variety of trunking options. The way we've aligned it is that we have the ability to deliver dial tone into those countries. In some cases we have a variety of options available to customers to choose. In other cases we have to do it [in a particular way] because of a regulatory element, for example.
We like to operate in a sub-200 millisecond access scenario. So if we're challenged say in the tip of South Africa and it's just a law of physics thing, we have the ability to put appliances in those locations that signal back to our primary data centers to make sure that the quality of voice service is there.
TT: Do you have homogenous demand across that huge footprint?
RS: In the early days, say three years ago, we saw primary interest in North America and AMEA [Asia, Middle East, Africa]. Since then, the emerging markets have really started to accelerate in parts of AsiaPac, Latin America and Eastern Europe. We see opportunities everywhere.
Again, it's the larger multinational corporates that do business all over the globe that are starting to understand the value proposition of operating in a traditional PBX-less scenario. The migration of capital expense-based platform to subscription-based cloud opex scenarios is really driving this.
TT: If you're talking to a company considering enterprise cloud, what makes you feel that they're knowledgeable?
RS: We work with some very educated customers and we work with customers that don't know what they don't know about this space. You can clearly tell the difference.
This is what the ones who get it look like: They bring an inventory of exactly what their comms environment looks like today. "This is my trunking. This is my minutes. This is when my hardware is hitting end of life. These are the termination dates in my contracts or maintenance agreements," etc. They understand the tipping points that are coming up to, and the opportunity for allowing some innovation or modernization of their telephony estate... They are very educated.
The second part of that is that they also understand the [commercial elements]. "This is what it means when I move traditional audio conferencing on-net. This is what it means when I centralize the use of SIP services versus traditional trunking. This is what it means when I get rid of the operations and maintenance costs of my voice estate," etc. They understand the economics of it as well.
Honestly, the challenge to somebody like BT is that a customer comes in and says, "Do it for less than or equal to cost neutrality." In other words, don't tell me it's going to be more expensive. "Tell me what the ROI, the TEI [total economic impact] looks like associated with moving to this sort of modernized scenario." They really understand the monetary elements too.
— Carl Weinschenk, Contributing Writer, Telco Transformation