Robert Miggins, Senior Vice President of Business Development of PEER 1 Hosting, sheds light on what he sees as the the two types of buyers in the cloud world. These fictitious buyers, Kevin and Paul, have different approaches and different needs and should be handled individually says Mr. Miggins.
inside-cloud: Every potential cloud customer is going to have a different set of demands and expectations of their cloud provider. Do you see these demands being formulated by the personalities of the purchasers? To what degree?
Robert Miggins: You’re absolutely right – each customer is unique and has his or her own specific demands when it comes to a cloud environment. Identifying those needs has been a significant focus for us at PEER 1 Hosting, and we’ve put a lot of time and effort into determining how best to serve our customers. In particular, through many years of informal surveys and conversations with our customers and peers, we have found that there are two very distinct personas when it comes to cloud purchasing habits, which range from conservative buyers to more daring buyers. We named these two personas Kevin and Paul. Kevin and Paul, of course, aren’t real people, but rather, embody the types of demands and preferences that we see coming from either end of the cloud buyer-spectrum.
inside-cloud: Tell me a little more about Kevin and Paul. How do they differ, particularly regarding how they buy and use cloud environments?
Robert Miggins: Kevin is the founder of a company and views technology as an opportunity to create an advantage. He is an innovator and is constantly seeking ways to give his company a competitive edge by leveraging the latest and greatest in high tech, including cloud computing. Kevin is likely a Linux user, and prefers a Xen-based cloud environment. He is also fundamentally a “DIYer” and will prefer a hybrid environment that leverages bare metal servers. Kevin embraces risks. In fact, he looks at risk taking as an opportunity to get an edge.
Paul, on the other hand, is the leader of the IT department at a large company and manages data on a large scale. He has a staff and a budget and wants to invest in proven technologies to remove the risk from his business. Paul prefers Windows and uses VMware – he knows it works and doesn’t want to risk trying something new. He believes that his cloud provider should be an extension of his company’s IT department, and wants his hosting provider to meet a robust SLA.
These preferences, of course, aren’t hard and fast. However, we’ve found that they apply most of the time and can help steer customers toward the cloud environment that is best suited to their needs with technology and interfaces they’re likely already used to.
inside-cloud: Have you ever worked with both a Kevin and a Paul at the same company?
Robert Miggins: Absolutely. With the wide expansion of cloud computing in the enterprise world today, it’s very common to have a Kevin and a Paul at the same company. But, from our perspective, this is what makes a company successful. You need the creative people and the logical people, the analytic skills and the verbal skills. This merging of different personalities and strengths is what creates innovation.
This is also why it’s so important for us to offer a range of cloud services that fit every customer’s needs – both the Kevin’s and the Paul’s. It’s really just a matter of determining which persona each customer fits into, and then showing them how we are meeting (and hopefully exceeding) the metrics that they prioritize.
inside-cloud: How can vendors better cater to the needs of Kevin and Paul?”
Robert Miggins: Vendors need to understand that no one cloud service will be a fit for every business model. This really gets back to the heart of PEER 1 Hosting’s mission to be the most human company on the Internet. We understand that every customer has different needs when it comes to their cloud environment and we offer a wide variety of choices to satisfy the Kevins and the Pauls of the world. In such a competitive market, why would a customer adjust their service to match a vendor’s infrastructure? For the most part, they won’t. We understand that, and that’s why we’ve put a huge emphasis on creating choices for our customer: in the hosting solution, hypervisor, support language or even billing system. So many vendors try to apply the same model to all of their customers, but I think we’re seeing the industry realize that simply doesn’t work in real life.
inside-cloud: Can a person or company ever transition from being Kevin to being Paul or vice versa?
Surprisingly, yes! Small start-ups become large corporations, and with that evolution, cloud preferences often change. Silicon Valley has produced hundreds, if not thousands, of start-ups led by lots and lots of Kevin’s. However, as some of those start-ups became multi-million dollar global companies, they had to adjust their practices and begin prioritizing SLA compliance and uptime over innovation.
Similarly, some companies started off very “by the book,” but have been forced to become more agile and creative to support the growing tech-savvy community. In instances such as these, that choice between environments is very important – and a vendor should be able to cater to both ends of the spectrum as well as everything in between.
Overall, the differences between Kevin and Paul are certainly stark, but this doesn’t mean they necessarily need different cloud hosting providers, or even different environments. Rather, it’s about taking the time to get to know who our customers are and what they really care about. With that knowledge informing how we work with people, it means we’re going to make the right recommendations and our customers will leave the interaction happy.