Cloud Service Providers have a tough challenge of differentiating themselves in a market that offers very less opportunity to stand apart from the crowd. Here are 5 quick tips for the CSPs to differentiate themselves.

1. Choose one Public Cloud at least to supplant to your on premises data center

The CSP’s end users are getting more demanding and sophisticated. Most Cloud Service Providers traditionally have had their own Data Centers from which services are being delivered to their users. This has taken care of most of the end user requirements. What if the CSP’s user requires 500 VMs for a day? What if a NoSQL database is required? How about O365 rather than Hosted Exchange? In all these scenarios, the CSP would be better suited to utilizing a Public Cloud rather than trying to do anything in their owned data center.

2. Specialize in a domain or an industry vertical of choice

While the ability to create VM for website hosting or a VM with SQL server installed is good to have. But, the true differentiation and stickiness will come if the CSP is armed with domain or an industry vertical knowledge. The knowledge of standards to safeguard patient data for a clinic or a hospital, the kind of security certifications for an e-Commerce site for safe transaction, are all examples of specialization.

3. Add managed services to your portfolio

A CSP’s end users may not be IT savvy, even if they are, they may not have the time to manage their IT resources. A CSP can add Managed Services to their portfolio of offerings and provide a “white glove” service to their customers. This is a good way to generate extra dollars as most customers are willing to pay extra for this service. And all studies point to the fact that with managed services, a CSP could make close to 2X revenues when compared to an offering without managed services. As a reference, a CSP can look at the prices that Rackspace charges for managed services, a big opportunity is out there.

4. Add self service capabilities

Most users are accustomed to buying from Amazon.com. A CSP should strive to provide similar kind of experience to their users seeking infrastructure / application solutions. Giving a Self Service capability frees up the CSP to do higher value tasks rather than looking at fulfilling provisioning, de provisioning, upgrade / downgrade requests. The CSP can start looking closer to AWS or Azure and not a traditional data center, and this is another way to get users comfortable that they are dealing with.

5. Go beyond Virtual Machines

While more than 80% of all resources used in the Cloud is still centered around VMs, there are a number of services offered by the Public Cloud vendors that have nothing or very little to do with VMs. Examples are Containers, Managed Databases, Recovery / Backup Vault etc. Every CSP can launch independent business lines just on the basis of one of these services.

Go forth, explore and conquer. Differentiate in the CSP market and punch above your weight. I will be more than happy to have a one-on-one discussion if you want to discuss a specific challenge.

Meanwhile, happy to hear your thoughts.