While cloud product/service adoption has accelerated, there is still a large “untapped” market that has yet to embrace the benefits of what service providers like Amazon, Azure, SalesForce, Rackspace, Dimension Data and others have to offer. As per a recent Forbes article, the average company has only 18% of their workload in the cloud1. This represents a combination of early adopters, enterprises in transition, SMB’s and companies that have yet to embrace the new business operation paradigms supported by technological advances.

Rather than spend the time to delve deeply into the myriad of reasons why some companies are reluctant to embrace the cloud and consequently many of the products and services offered by AWS, we will focus on a few, but significant observations.

Observation #1: Semantic Drift

Since the 1940’s, technology has always been subject to “semantic drift”. This is roughly defined as when specific terms and phrases change their meaning over time in response to market trends. Examples are “quality, world-class, containers, whatever aaS and big data”, which in many cases were not clearly defined to begin with. Many technology service providers developed their own dialects making the use of their products and services both exclusive and daunting at the same time.

Back in 2010 when the cloud became the “rave”, many application hosting providers changed their marketing material to reflect that they offered “cloud services” when all they really offered was renamed hosting services. Fortunately NIST came out with a definitive cloud definition in September 20112.

Observation #2: IT/Business Gap

The other historic and present phenomenon is the realization that IT needs to close the gap between what it provides and what business requires. The big difference between the IT/business (consumer) relationship in the 1980’s and today is that the market is now totally consumer-driven. The gradual shift from technology to consumer driven market began in the 1990’s with advances in mobile computing and accelerated with both the tablet adoption and in 2008 with Apple’s App store (where applications were developed outside of traditional enterprise IT departments and are more clearly focused on UI).

For example, in early 2003 a CEO of a highly-successful global investment bank came into a web-development meeting where he wanted his new website to contain elements that he had seen on consumer applications. Ultimately he expressed his desire to have “talking heads” on the corporate website.

Relevance

So how are these observations potentially relevant?

Many of the AWS news announcements, articles and case studies explicitly assume that the reader is well-versed in AWS products and services, has a working knowledge of AWS terminology, and is well passed-the-point of trying to understand how AWS products/services/enhancements can impact the consumer. As such, these documents do not help AWS to reach the “untapped market”.

In late 1999/early 2000, Akamai Technologies, Inc. worked closely with investment banks to gain funding and market exposure. They had some success with helping ESPN and others, but their ideas and services were still very hard to understand and therefore hard to market. At that time, their explanations were too abstract, too technical. Today, anyone who knows Akamai understands that they provide Internet acceleration services, which make high-speed, global, Internet data transmission (video streaming) possible.

Use Case #1 – Announcements – Amazon S3

For example, the following service enhancement introduction announcement clearly targets existing technical/operational clients that are well versed on Amazon products and services, and the Amazon nomenclature.

Introducing Amazon VPC Endpoints for Amazon S3 (Posted On: May 11, 2015)

You can now access Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) from your Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) using VPC endpoints. Amazon VPC endpoints are easy to configure and provide reliable connectivity to Amazon S3 without requiring an internet gateway or a Network Address Translation (NAT) instance. With VPC endpoints, the data between the VPC and S3 is transferred within the Amazon network, helping protect your instances from internet traffic.

Amazon VPC endpoints for Amazon S3 provide two additional security controls to help limit access to S3 buckets. You can now require that requests to your S3 buckets originate from a VPC using a VPC endpoint. Additionally, you can control what buckets, requests, users, or groups are allowed through a specific VPC endpoint.

Amazon VPC endpoints for Amazon S3 is available in the US Standard, US West (Oregon), US West (N. California), EU (Ireland), EU (Frankfurt), Asia Pacific (Tokyo), Asia Pacific (Singapore), and Asia Pacific (Sydney) regions.

To learn more about Amazon VPC endpoints for S3, visit Using VPC Endpoints.

On the surface the article “introduces” the prospective user to a new feature and/or service. However, it addresses improvements to Virtual Private Cloud to make it easier to access and more secure. It does not target first time business users – it clearly targets seasoned AWS technical/operational users.

It can be argued that this article is not intended for non-technical consumers. However, when one follows the link and reads the description of Amazon Simple Storage Service it still is not targeting the end user, the one who makes purchasing decisions. The S3 service overview provides technical/operational information with the use cases listed below as if it was an after thought. While the use cases are relevant and focused, they should be presented in a more organized, business-focused way that clearly demonstrates the scope and breadth of business functions being supported.

Use Case #2 – Amazon Web Services

The description of AWS Products and Services starts with a good, but brief overview that includes a small paragraph and a three-minute video. However, it then jumps into the technical/operational components that make up AWS.

Products & Services [Overview]

Amazon Web Services offers a broad set of global compute, storage, database, analytics, application, and deployment services that help organizations move faster, lower IT costs, and scale applications. These services are trusted by the largest enterprises and the hottest start-ups to power a wide variety of workloads including: web and mobile applications, data processing and warehousing, storage, archive, and many others.

Compute

You can now access Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) from your Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC) using VPC endpoints. Amazon VPC endpoints are easy to configure and provide reliable connectivity to Amazon S3 without requiring an internet gateway or a Network Address Translation (NAT) instance. With VPC endpoints, the data between the VPC and S3 is transferred within the Amazon network, helping protect your instances from internet traffic.

Again, we feel strongly that while all technical/operational areas are covered, there isn’t sufficient verbage that closes the gap between what is being offered and how this helps the business. The AWS component taxonomy targets technical/operational personnel and not the end-user. It is also clear that AWS offers numerous services that overlap, can be used to enhance other services and are better suited for SMB’s or Enterprises or both.

It is not evident where a business owner would start. Which components are more important than others? What should they expect in terms of cost, time and resource savings?

Examples of Business-Oriented Documentation

As a way of getting our point across, the following technology companies have taken relatively technical content and put a business-oriented perspective on it:

EMC’s XTREMEIO platform “lets you do multiple tasks one way. Better. Database storage. VDI Storage. Whatever your focus is, nobody has more experience helping customers transform their business operations with all-flash storage and copy services than XtremIO. 40% of the Fortune 200 have experienced this. So can you.”3

Windows Azure also takes a business-oriented approach4:

Azure is Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, a growing collection of integrated services—analytics, computing, database, mobile, networking, storage, and web—for moving faster, achieving more, and saving money. Here’s what else Azure is…

It delivers unmatched productivity…

It’s open and flexible…

It works with existing IT…

It’s built to protect your data…

It’s everywhere…

It’s ready for any business…

It’s economical and stable…

It enables you to unlock insights…

Interestingly enough AWS does have some excellent examples of business-oriented material5;

Enterprises, mid-market, and SMBs all have one thing in common: their business applications are critical. Companies of all sizes are running SAP, Oracle, Exchange, and many other business applications in the cloud to simplify infrastructure management, deploy more quickly, and lower cost. AWS offers a reliable and flexible cloud infrastructure platform that enables customers to run any type of web applications for business, from small departmental solutions to mission-critical applications in a secure and robust environment.

However, it is our view that it is obscured by the overwhelmingly technology-focused material.

Summary and Conclusion

We believe strongly that cloud service providers have an opportunity to approach the “untapped” market, but they need to re-orient their documentation to put the consumer/business decision makers first. Consumers/Business Decision Makers are driving IT, control the budgets and make the final decisions as to what they need and when they need it.

Another perspective is to create a new front-end for consumer/business decision makers so that they can clearly understand what cloud service providers offer and how it can help in terms the layman can understand. It is obvious that the existing content is extremely important to the resources that have to make developmental and operational decisions. However, in order for the end-user to make decisions starting with why one cloud service provider over another, they have to understand what each one can do for them.

1 Tapping Cloud Computing’s Full Potential, Louis Columbus, Forbes.com, 5/1/2015.

2 The NIST Definition of Cloud Computing, 9/2011, http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/nistpubs/800-145/SP800-145.pdf

3 http://www.emc.com/storage/xtremio/enterprise-solutions.htm

4 https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/overview/what-is-azure/

5 http://aws.amazon.com/business-applications/