There are 9,000,547 different cloud solutions available (or so it seems) that you can provide to your clients or use in your own organization. All these shiny, new, sexy products practically guarantee to cure what ails your business. So what should you sell to your clients, when should you sell it to them, and under what conditions?

I don’t think it is possible in one blog post to answer that question, but let me at least see if I can start you down the right path. The first question you have to ask yourself is: What am I trying to do?

Seems simple, right? Let’s say a client needs a new email server, do you build new hardware and install a new copy of Exchange or sign them up for O365? In both cases you are selling a solution, but in which case are you selling the client heartache? In the one that doesn’t match their needs. A hosted solution with insufficient bandwidth is a heartache. An on-premise hardware solution with a poor ROI is a heartache.

So what are the real needs? I don’t know, I’m asking you… And most of the time this is the same question you should be asking your client or staff.

Back to our email example, my guess is the answer you will get is, “I need to receive email.” Ok, and….? You could then ask the following:
• Who else needs to get email?
• Where do those people work?
• What do you need to email and receive?
• Do you need to retain this email?
• Who else needs to get email? Is it a few individuals or a large group?

Per user, per month is a much better ROI with a few people than a lot of people, in some scenarios. $15 per user per month for 10 workers is $5,400 for 3 years; far less than hardware, software, ping, power, pipe, and maintenance. One hundred users, not so much.

Employee Locations
It’s also important to ask where do those people work? Are they in a central location or in remote locations? Mobile workforce? A central location with non-mobile workers may point to an on-premise install unless they need high available. Now, for an on premise install, we need multiple servers in a cluster or a DAG, drastically increasing the hardware and licensing costs.

Email Requirements
Large files? Confidential information? Regulated information? Being able to control the size of attachments and storage space of the database may make you lean toward an on-premise solution that you can manage. What about security now? Is that old firewall up to the task? Do you need to PIN tests? Do you need a good filtering system for in and outbound messages? Costs and heartache may be going up.

Is retention required, or just a nice to have? All the cloud providers offer different levels of retention, but what about Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity? Required? Needed?

To sum this up, there are many ways services can be delivered. Each of them has a time and a place that is not dictated by how much it costs or how much margin you can make on providing the service. Don’t trade a headache for a heartache — for a client breakup — because you didn’t find out why before you delivered what.

Steve Noel