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“A lot of CEOs are still not clear on what the cloud is. They read about it and hear about it, but they must defer to their technologist to decipher what it means and how their business can take advantage of it.”

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As the Chief Marketing Officer, Ali Din manages partner relationships for dinCloud, as well as oversight on marketing and communications. Prior to this role, he was the VP of Marketing and Product Development at En Pointe Technologies, managing key lines of business including HP, Microsoft, and e-business.

dinCloud is a cloud transformation company that helps organizations rapidly migrate to the cloud through Business Provisioning. Each private, virtual data center provides hosted virtual desktops, hosted virtual servers, and cloud backup and recovery services, which are controlled by the customer through a web-based application. dinCloud provides subscription-based services tailored to fit a range of business models resulting in reduced cost, enhanced security, control, and productivity.

MO: What exactly does a cloud transformation company do?

Ali: A cloud transformation company provides strategic, subscription-based IT services running in its data center facilities (the “cloud”), as opposed to running at the customer premises or a customer’s co-location facility. Services include an internet accessible hosted virtual desktop that runs applications from the cloud, and stores data centrally in the cloud. Another service, which is sometimes overly simplified, is hosted virtual servers that run applications for the customer or house databases. A third example of a hosted service is cloud storage; – providing a business a backup of a business’s their data across all desktops and servers and being able to function as a key element in a disaster recovery and business continuity plan. Any of these services can be considered a part of cloud transformation – more so than website hosting or email hosting which are specific workload functions. In cloud transformation, you are able to support your business in the cloud across multiple workloads.

MO: Can you talk about the concept behind Business Provisioning and some of the advantages it can provide for your customers?

Ali: To us, business provisioning is the process and methodology of getting onto the cloud. A lot of vendors offer Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) or other cloud services, but they neglect the on-boarding process. We felt that at this early stage of cloud adoption – a critical factor in the success of someone migrating to the cloud is a seamless on-boarding experience. Because cloud services are new, and they require a more comprehensive knowledgebase around servers, storage, and networking, – we felt it was important to offer both customers and consultant partners (value-added resellers, managed service providers, etc.), our engineering teams’ skillset to ensure proper design, configuration, implementation, and data migration. The result is that a customer’s expectations are set correctly upfront with regard to effort and time, and that they won’t get frustrated  or stuck somewhere in the process. Customers will get onto the cloud rapidly, and have a pleasant experience that they can share with others.

MO: What’s the biggest risk that you’ve ever taken and how did it turn out?

Ali: We first started using third-party software to provide cloud orchestration and management to support our engineers’ needs, our partners, and customers. After trying two major platforms we were unsatisfied with the capabilities. After major debate, we decided to embark on building our own software. As a service provider, it  was very risky getting into the software development business. We were now accountable for features, and most importantly, time-to-market. While the first iteration took several months, our development team came up with some very innovative enhancements that resulted in us filing a patent. Now, we are able to very precisely help customers by automating many components of the business provisioning process.

MO: Why do you think that cloud solutions are so essential for small to medium sized businesses?

Ali: The typical business we work with has either no IT staff, or very limited bandwidth with regards to the person(s) responsible for technology. The challenge smaller organizations (as opposed to Fortune 500s) face is that the current staff is overwhelmed with requests for day -to -day maintenance and doesn’t have the time to go through an evaluation process to determine what technology works best in their environment. In addition, it is even harder to set aside time to implement the technology that was purchased. This is probably where the term “shelf-ware” became prevalent, as I have heard numerous stories of businesses buying expensive equipment and it sitting for months (on the short end) without anyone having the time or knowledge on how to implement it correctly. Hence, migrating to the cloud clearly minimizes the burden of implementing and maintaining technology, speeds the time to realize the benefits of the new technology, and all the while cutting down on the cash crunch involved with traditional purchases (since cloud services are generally utility based and priced on a monthly subscription).

MO: What are some trends in the cloud industry that you’re excited about?

Ali: One of the most talked about trends is bring-your-own-device (BYOD). For cloud services, this is a powerful driver for services such as hosted virtual desktops, which essentially enable an end-user to have a personal and professional persona on their device(s). Another related trend is ‘mobility’ – which recognizes that people are no longer stationary in their office. In fact, not only do people work from different environments, but they jump from one device to the next. Today, that is not as seamless as it should be. But as more people adopt cloud services, I expect this trend to accelerate and become more integral to an end-user’s routine.

MO: What are some of the biggest challenges currently facing cloud computing?

Ali: There are two challenges for those delivering cloud computing services. The first is awareness – a lot of CEOs are still not clear on what the cloud is. They read about it and hear about it, – but they must defer to their technologist to decipher what it means and how their business can take advantage of it. The next challenge is fear of the unknown. This broadly encompasses security concerns, insecurity about controlling IT infrastructure, and noise in the press when well-known brands have outages. Briefly, here are a few things to consider: the typical cloud service provider stakes their reputation on security and availability, – so chances are that the infrastructure they have designed is generally going to be more robust than the typical business would set up for its individual use; lack of control is easily addressed when a customer has visibility into their cloud environment and can control it through a cloud management platform which many larger providers offer.

MO: What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you personally or professionally?

Ali: In the last 12 months, my team and I have built a brand in cloud computing from scratch. While it took a lot of effort to develop relationships with vendors, distributors, the press and industry analysts, we are now at a point of seeing the fruits of our labor. So it is both with personal and professional pride that I am looking to see how 2013 starts to unfold as the momentum in our company starts going from the walk stage into the run stage.


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