The cloud ecosystem and AWS in particular is creating a new business challenge for data and ecosystem vendors. When technology and data centers were in their forming stages the primary concern was – can I get technology that is bigger, faster, more stable, expanded feature, reliable. Dissatisfaction in all these areas offered great opportunity for clever, hardworking startups. Deliver a storage system or network tool that was a little faster or better and you were a star. However, as technology has matured many of these basic horizontal needs have been addressed, and with the easy of deploying compute instances in the cloud, it is hard to get the attention of a potential customer. One firm I am advising, in the ultra-high-speed storage space has delivered a system that is measurable faster than the best “all-flash” arrays. But they struggle to find customers who need this added performance. Their needs for speed are being met. Of course, we all know this will eventually change, but one does a struggling start up do now?
This is where Infrastructure companies must start changing the way they think about the market. They can no long just be the faster, bigger, more stable horizontal solution. If one hasn’t designed a product with a specific customer and use case in mind, it will be a real challenge. But if that is the case the team must analyze and determine what specific customer type is going to benefit from a solution, and it can’t be the data or network admin in the data center. It needs to be a specific use case and business need that goes to the heart of the customers business. Pick a very specific customers type – (Like Application Development, or E-commerce applications) and identify the pain points those targets have. Does your solution do anything special over and above what AWS can provide that will solve a big problem or simplify and reduce costs for that customer. Your solution needs to be presented as the best solution for a very specific use case and drive that message into that market.
Now this may all sound very logical and obvious to many of you, but for an industry that has historically thought of themselves as horizontal underlying tools, this is a significant challenge. But it must be done.