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Cloud Infrastructure Services and the European Market

Despite its well-reported economic oscillations, Europe represents an important opportunity for US-based cloud infrastructure services (IaaS).  The impression of many on this side of the pond is that there are fantastic opportunities and few 'local' European contenders to take advantage of them.  The facts of the matter are less clear cut.  

The euro zone has serious infrastructure (IaaS) offerings that are home grown. … UK2Group's hosting companies and their newest offer, OnApp, are good examples.  In the realm of managed service providers catering to big enterprise, T-Systems and Orange Business Services represent formidable competition for the enterprise cloud services market.   Still, the US-based IaaS and, increasingly, PaaS players view Europe as an opportunity for which they have a technology advantage and, therefore, should also have a time advantage if they can get to market soon.

Among those most interested in the European markets are the 'pure play' specialists in cloud infrastructure. The group of players to which I refer are the companies that have developed their own, distinct approaches to cloud infrastructure or infrastructure management … the companies with a history of quickly implementing services in response to the demands of their cloud infrastructure clientele.  But in moving into the European market, conversations of competition generally end up with "What can we do to get into the market, and not find ourselves in a price competition with AWS as it expands into these territories?"  That seems to be the wrong question, based on the wrong premise.   

We've noticed that the interest in Europe exhibited by the 'pure play' infrastructure cloud service providers overshadows the respective efforts of competitive MSPs like AT&T and Verizon whose IaaS services have grown as extensions of conventional data communication and IT business services. The enterprise MSPs have enough of a challenge addressing their markets at home.  The enterprise ICT specialists like CSC Trusted Cloud or Unisys's Cloud Solutions don't make as much noise about their international / offshore efforts and may seem less geographically focused because their Global 1000 customers are already just that -- global.  For this group, considerations of different markets and the jurisdictional constraints with which they must comply are considerations at the outset.

In the course of Telematica's strategic consulting and our partnership with IVA, we're being asked directly by clients about how best to proceed into European and some Asia-Pacific markets and not be overwhelmed by other US players with deeper pockets.  

  • We first caution them to remember that they're not entering markets without indigenous services.  
  • Next, we find ourselves discussing with them the ways in which their offers can be made distinct and/or distinctly European.  
  • As important, we find ourselves often making the point that IaaS companies must enter the European markets on the basis of strategic relationships with 'local' professional services, system integrators and other channel partners. 

In the course of the next few weeks, we will be discussing some of our findings and a few 'deeply held opinions' about the kinds of differentiation these IaaS players can employ to make progress entering new markets. While the initial focus is Europe, we're doing our best to identify those aspects that are of general interest when entering foreign markets, as well as the specific aspects that impact market entry in Asia-Pacific and South America.  I hope you enjoy the discussion and make your own opinions known.

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