7 Must-Knows for Retailers Eyeing Top-Tier Cloud Service Providers

By Blake Huber, vice president and chief technology officer, Retail and Consumer Products, Xerox


Dilapidated. Abandoned. And virtually forgotten. When I saw the image of this crumpled, lonely structure, I felt a stir within—a sense of regret. What once burst with life was now gasping for life.  It was the perfect metaphor for what I was hearing and seeing as I met with retailers who look at their enterprises and see obsolescence, static and unshakeable IT budgets.

Infrastructure obsolescence is almost the norm among retailers. I know, it’s a stretch, but in my mind’s eye I recognize that we’re in a dynamic world where “The Cloud” allows retailers to capitalize on lower IT costs yet boost performance to extraordinary levels.

My premise: The cloud is the answer, or it can be, but it’s likely that you need more than one provider. Here are seven must-haves when you evaluate top-tier cloud providers.

  1. Maximize Your Options.   Expect zero-to-little money required for upfront fees. If there’s a humongous upfront fee to begin, escort the provider to the exit. Today’s best providers understand they are committed to the long haul and make their revenue accordingly. For retailers, a zero- or low-costs upfront lowers the pain threshold for switching providers, especially if things don’t work out.
  2. Pay To Play. Call it Pay-for-Consumption or Pay-Per-Use, whatever. Bottom line, pay for what you use when you use it. It’s a given and is standard. (And it should be.)
  3. Scratch Any Capacity Constraints. The innate advantage of the cloud is the ability to use the provider to boost your capacity as needed and when needed. Be it a subscription based model or otherwise, capacity should not be a concern or a constraint. Every company must validate and verify that its cloud provider doesn’t “flip the switch” for overages and other nonsense.

    Come and see how to maximize your options without breaking the bank.

  4. Fast, Faster, Fastest – Cycle Time.  Shrinking cycle time is the largest cost saver when using the cloud; thus, the cloud provider must ensure Just-in-Time delivery. Forget all the asset acquisition, capex approvals and installation cycles.
  5. Choosing & Using. Most Infrastructure-as-a Service cloud providers are uniquely different from each other.  Clients expect to capitalize on these differences by having access to a myriad of public, private, and hybrid cloud providers.  The concept of cloud brokerage was built to achieve end-user choice.
  6. App Excellence Required. Some “cloud providers” are simply hosting providers “gone cloud.” Avoid. A sophisticated retailer needs a sophisticated cloud provider that excels in managing and delivering business applications. Be they Platform-as-a-Service, Infrastructure-as-a-Service, Software-as-a-Service or something else, this is a must-have/must-do.
  7. Broker & Buy. Don’t lock yourself in – use a cloud broker to give you access to a portfolio of different cloud providers.

My last point—identifying a cloud services broker is, indeed, self-serving, but easily proven as the best way to examine and select the best cloud providers. This is our approach at Xerox. A cloud services broker is a vendor-agnostic company that offers its clients seamless access to technology and services available across public, private, and hybrid cloud providers. Be it Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud or Azure, among others, we make sure to accommodate the specific requirements of every application in your portfolio.

Apply these seven expectations when choosing your next generation cloud providers.  Step away from obsolescence; it’s a new season, a time to refresh, re-build and re-invent yourself once again.

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