Top 10 Cloud Sightings from 2016 Ingram Micro Cloud Summit

To Cloud Infinity and Beyond!

The weather was cloudy and warm in Phoenix last week for Ingram Micro’s 2016 Cloud Summit. Very cloudy…all day long...inside...

As I – and more than 1,000 other attendees and partners – sat listening to one keynote after the next, and visiting with cloud vendors at the tech fair, one thing was glaringly obvious. Cloud is here – self-evident and accessible to everyone. Not only is it here, cloud adoption is necessary for businesses large and small to move forward, or risk being left behind.

Did you know there are 10 main types of weather clouds - the for “real kind” that float in the sky? These 10 cloud types fall into four categories – clouds with vertical development that span across elevations, low, medium and high atmosphere levels.

So for fun, here’s the top 10 “cloud sightings” from this one attendee’s experience at Cloud Summit 2016 – Where Rainmakers Thrive:

1. Cloud is not tactical – disrupt or be disrupted.

Cumulonimbus are tower-like clouds that can build into dangerous thunderstorms – even tornadoes – within an hour, delivering pounding rain, lightning, thunder and hail. These clouds are huge! Bill Karpovich, GM for IBM’s Cloud Platform, couldn't have made it any clearer for the audience. Cloud is not a tactical consideration for today’s businesses. Either take seriously the initiative to be purposely disruptive in adopting the right cloud strategy for your business, or you will be disrupted. There are a variety of ways to move to the cloud, and each business needs to consider the best cloud model that works for you. Hybrid cloud can include connections to one or more clouds, on- and off-premise environments, public and private. Data and analytics are core cloud components and need to be carefully considered as part of the implementation approach. As Karpovich stated, the objective should be to “spill securely and seamlessly into the cloud.”

2. Cloud is the new norm – and everyone wants in.

Cumulus clouds are those puffy white fair-weather clouds that offer the promise of a beautiful day. They're fun to imagine as different animals against a bright blue sky.

If space was going to be the next frontier, I wanted to be part of it.
Buzz Aldrin
Renee Bergeron, Ingram Micro’s Vice President of Cloud Computing, delivered one great piece of cloud news after the next. She opened the event with a compelling keynote that put a spotlight on the pervasiveness of the “cloud-first mentality” many businesses are adopting. She distinguished this new norm as one where lines of business – not IT – will lead decisions about cloud strategy. In this new reality is a new face of the B2B buyer - the millennial - who she described as "a digital native." Bergeron emphasized that millennial buyers all but live online as they go through their buyer's journey, and expect a white-glove experience. That kind of premium experience is self-serve, on-demand, content-rich and on a guided path.

3. Cloud helps you engage with customers – where they want to be engaged.

Nimbostratus are low, dark, gray, flat stratus clouds that deliver slow, steady all-day kind of rain. Digital buying is not a passing storm, it’s here and it’s staying. By it's very nature, cloud enables companies to develop agile GTM digital offerings, just what the millennial B2B buyer expects. Darren Bibby, IDC’s Program Vice President, Channels and Alliances Research, cited this stat: "65% of B2B buyers usually engage a sales rep only after they’ve made a purchase decision." This kind of majority shift to digital engagement is one well publicized in articles and blogs – and it was reinforced again by Bibby. The buyer’s journey has shifted more and more to online engagement, and that means more investment in marketing is required. That includes the development of relevant content that helps business buyers make informed decisions. As Bibby stated, “It’s all about the content.”

4. Cloud can make the difference – between chaos and cash.

Stratocumulus clouds are low, large, puffy clouds that can make the sky look dark and foreboding. Bergeron suggested that ominous possibility could happen for today’s businesses if you’re not planning to connect your front-office experience to the cloud. To manifest online white glove service covered in #2 above, businesses must adapt to e-commerce and connect your front-office to the cloud for shortened sales cycles and better customer experience. Today, value lies with how well you connect and integrate your products and services to others that are complimentary for your buyers. And with that, Bergeron introduced the “Micro Ecosystem of Cloud: the only place where Cloud Service Providers (CSPs), Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) and end users can fully manage their cloud businesses from discovery through consumption with the quality backing and support of Ingram Micro.”

5. Cloud brings productivity - to small and mid-sized businesses.

Stratus clouds, the last of the low-atmosphere type, are fog clouds. If you’ve ever driven a car when the fog clouds roll in, you know how disconcerting it can be. Not being able to navigate efficiently slows down forward progress and can make the completion of simple tasks inefficient. So the audience happily welcomed the announcement by Marco Perisic, Microsoft’s General Manager, of Microsoft’s new product – Project Maderia. “Project Madeira, designed for small and mid-sized organizations, brings business productivity and business management solutions together and blends them together to streamline processes and improve customer experience.” Native in Office 365, Project Madeira enables a sales rep to create a quote and reply to a customer, all within Outlook.

6. Cloud requires a data focus – data management, storage and protection.

We’ve moved into the middle clouds, those that form at elevations between 6,500 and 20,000 feet. Altocumulus clouds are large and round – and make the sky appear gray. They are a harbinger of rain expected to arrive in the coming hours. Serguei Beloussov, the CEO of Acronis, made a very compelling statement during his presentation, that in the world of cloud, data management, storage and projection is the fifth basic human need. A data management strategy that compliments your cloud strategy not only helps shore up backup and disaster recovery plans, it also helps ensure that data is governed in a productive, efficient and accessible manner for your organization’s daily use. Without it, looming risk is bound to take shape.

7. Cloud excellence involves experimentation – be brave.

Altostratus are thick clouds that can block the moon and sun and produce few if any shadows on the ground. It sounds like the backdrop for a scary movie. Maybe one with a mad scientist…Thomas Dolby was one of two guest speakers who shared the story of his career. You may remember Dolby’s 1982 hit "She Blinded Me with Science". Dolby is a scientist and artist at heart, experimenting with sound and technology his whole life – first as a musician, then as the founder of Beatnik, a company that integrated music and sound into Web sites. Nokia partnered with Beatnik to create ring tones for their mobile phones. Today he travels as a guest speaker and is a college professor, teaching Film and Media Studies at Johns Hopkins University. Dolby's "mad science" mentality, or more like visionary spirit, embodies the greatness and possibilities we can realize with the cloud. We just need to be brave and open to the possibilities.

8. Cloud makes data access easier – about customers, prospects and suppliers.

Cirrocumulus cloud are small, cotton-ball-like clouds high in the sky. They are predictive indicators to approaching weather changes, including precursors to storms. Dun & Bradstreet took a big step toward helping small and mid-sized businesses learn more about their business partners for greater planning, productivity and growth. During the conference, we announced a set of cloud-based business packages for Microsoft Office 365™ customers, available on the Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace. These solutions help businesses connect better with customers and suppliers, and find new ones, with augmented business information and list pulls directly within Excel.

9. Cloud is a raw material – and part of the new digital/platform economy.

Cirrostratus clouds appear as thin sheets across the sky. The sun or the moon shine through these clouds and can form a halo. We are now covering “high altitude” realities – and Melanie Posey, IDC Research Vice President, declared we are in the midst of a digital business transformation, one where business is enabling technology. Cloud, mobile, social, analytics and big data are the raw IT materials and building blocks for today’s new platform economy. From this new platform, businesses will launch new business models that create value, growth and competitive advantage. From here businesses will find new ways to engage with customers. Posey highlighted a few key trends in cloud services as part of this new platform economy, including: the best-practice hybrid IT model (reflecting what Bill Karpovich of IBM spoke about in his keynote – see #1), the opportunity for service providers to help companies move to the cloud (more than a simple “lift and shift”), and the flexibility and choices for cloud adoption, expansion and maintenance (like available on the Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace.)

10. Cloud’s potential is yet to be realized – exploration will lead the way.

Cirrus clouds can reach elevations of 20,000 feet (6,000 meters) and higher. These uppermost realm clouds offer up the breathtaking red sky sunrises and sunsets that make you pause in awe. We’ve reached the possibilities of the distant horizon, reserved for the most courageous explorers who challenge the boundaries of current day. On July 20, 1969, Buzz Aldrin, along with Neil Armstrong, were the first men to walk on the moon. On April 12, 2016, Buzz walked on to the stage at the 2016 Cloud Summit to the reception of a standing ovation. Everyone in the audience hung on Buzz’s words, a living American hero who shared his story and his life lessons. Learnings like how important it is to have backups, how timing is everything, and how the values of education, a strong work ethic, a sense of adventure and family will take you far in this life. His advice to those leading the charge in cloud was to have strong determination and courage, and to set a goal with a specific timeline and achievement in mind. As he told his story, he commented, “If space was going to be the next frontier, I wanted to be part of it.” Those words have stuck with me. It’s this exact mentality that will carry us forward "to cloud infinity and beyond!"

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