Monetizing Cloud Services
Exploiting the Cloud Opportunity
Abiquo is a Cloud Management software solution that enables Managed Service Providers (MSP’s) to build secure, multi-tenant and multi-platform hybrid cloud services by pooling infrastructure resources into virtual datacenters and exposing them to users through a web-based portal and programmatic interfaces. Tenants can use a catalogue of Virtual App Templates or upload their own Virtual Machine images.
In addition to supporting all the major hypervisors, service providers can extend their reach into the public cloud by adding services from major cloud providers such as Amazon AWS, DigitalOcean, Rackspace and more. Providing these blended services enables service providers to maintain their customer relationships in the face of competition from public cloud providers, and to give their customers choice between their own infrastructure and the public cloud while providing the same high quality and depth of service and support.
Your customers get an easy to use one click cloud deployment solution that supports multiple brand labelling, enabling your business to exploit multiple reseller channels to sell your cloud services.
There are three main approaches to taking a cloud offering to your customers
Cloud Provider Service
A Cloud Provider offers a range of services, all based on an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) platform.
With Abiquo you can become a Cloud Service Provider with no infrastructure of your own, by creating your service offering based on Abiquo’s supported public cloud providers such as Amazon, Rackspace, Digital Ocean and HP Cloud. However, most Cloud Providers will have at least some of their own infrastructure in order to sell services with
guaranteed SLAs and integration to other services such as wide area networking, monitoring, capacity management and patching.
Customers can be billed with two basic cost models, with Abiquo’s Cloud Providers often implementing a blend of the two. The Cloud Provider often wants an allocation based model, where customers agree to purchase a pool of resources up front. This enables the provider to predict costs and resources required, building new infrastructure just ahead of the sales pipeline. Customers often request a consumption model, in which they pay for usage, usually on a monthly basis.
There is a compromise approach that ensures a level of contracted revenue with the flexibility of the pay-as-you-go approach; the “commit and burst” model. In this contractual model, the customer commits to a certain allocation of resource at a set price, but has a predetermined level of burst capacity available, usually at a higher rate. To implement this, set the hard limits in the Abiquo environment to the maximum commit + burst capacity and use the metering information to calculate the customers’ bills. There are other more advanced ways to alert customers when limits are being approached, and to alert your sales team when customers are near to
using their capacity. Your Abiquo solutions consultant can advise you on implementing these.
Cloud Distributor Service
A Cloud Distributor offers a set of services to value added resellers (VARs) and Enterprises, based around the core offering of a “dedicated partition” on an Infrastructure-as-a-Service platform. This leverages Abiquo’s ability to dedicate one or more physical servers (running the hypervisor of your choice) to a single tenant. Abiquo can also dedicate areas on a SAN, or even a whole SAN, to one or more tenants – a feature also used to offer multiple tiers of storage to a set of tenants for multiple service levels. In rare cases, tenants may even want dedicated physical networks; this can also be configured with Abiquo, although usually the VLAN separation is sufficient. This ability to dedicate networks to specific tenants is also used to create backup or monitoring out-of-band networks. Helpfully, Abiquo’s reporting engine is fully integrated to the security model, so a complete “cloud in a box” service can be offered to resellers.
Cloud Distributors usually charge on an allocation based model, where customers agree to purchase a partition up front. In effect, this is similar to offering dedicated server hosting, except that the customer gets more flexibility by being able to use shared as well as dedicated resource, and the Cloud Distributor gets the management efficiency and speed of deployment of a cloud platform. Another benefit is that any additional features or services are available to all customers straight away. Finally, there is an always-present opportunity to upsell customers with additional managed services, such as backup and monitoring.
With Abiquo’s native support for hybrid cloud, you can also be a broker for public cloud services for your resellers. This means you can help them address the challenge from these public cloud providers by offering a choice of your on-premise infrastructure and selected public clouds. With Abiquo’s single portal, reporting, metering and billing you can offer these platforms with the same easy-to-use front end, and without needing to invest in new integrations each time you add a new cloud provider.
Cloud Builder Service
A Cloud Builder creates clouds for Enterprises who want to run their own on-premise or hybrid clouds. This service is often offered as a value-add to server, storage and network sales, and offers the customer a true hybrid cloud solution that’s easy to manage and requires little end user training. Upsell opportunities come from integrating to other systems, implementing reporting and metering, and providing remote management and monitoring of the cloud solution. The Cloud Builder model is well suited to companies who have a current revenue stream from implementing on-premise server, storage and network solutions, but who want to address the growing requirement from the Enterprise market for private and hybrid clouds.
Avoiding the Vendor Trap
Becoming a Cloud Provider, Distributor or Builder with Abiquo is a simple and safe move for your business. Since Abiquo works with all major hypervisors, all major storage solutions and public cloud providers, you can avoid being locked in to one vendor with all the risks that entails.
This isn’t just theoretical; a number of Abiquo customers have implemented multiple hypervisors and two or more storage solutions, taking advantage of Microsoft and Oracle’s licensing models when on their own hypervisor, the low cost of ownership of the open source KVM hypervisor, and the relative cost/benefit tradeoffs of high performance SAN storage and open source SANs.
With Abiquo’s on-the-fly image conversion and tiered storage, your customers can deploy virtual appliances to the appropriate compute and storage platform without being concerned with the underlying technology. Of course, you can charge differently for each hypervisor and storage type, as well as the usage-based metering you’d expect.
Selling your Cloud Service
Abiquo’s award winning portal provides your business with a ‘shop window’ for your customers to access, control and consume your own cloud resources, and to leverage public cloud providers such as Amazon AWS. Your customers get an easy to use one click cloud deployment solution that supports multiple brand labelling, enabling your business to exploit both value added reseller and direct channels to sell your cloud services.
You get the support of Abiquo’s team to help you make the most of the opportunities created by a self-service portal, and to differentiate your cloud service. Detailed reporting and statistics provide graphical data about the consumption of resources for your customers, or for your own purposes within your organisation.
Scheduled reports can be sent directly to you and your customers, and they can access on-demand reporting and statistics in real time – Abiquo’s security model ensuring users and customers only see information relevant to them. Use these reports for service management, to identify upsell opportunities, or identify customers whose growth suggests a new project that you can support with additional services.