The Cloud – fabulous idea, works well, we all get that. But what seems to be developing as the differentiator is managing the clients’ applications once they have decided to go cloud.

There are three main offerings from companies in the UK. Firstly, niche players, who have the skills, but lack the ability to offer what so many clients need, e.g. 24×7 support. Then traditional players (the big names) who seem to be adopting the same pricing policies as their traditional business – but they will win significant business due to the ‘safety’ factor. And mid-sized, or to use the Offshoring jargon, ‘Tier 2′ suppliers who can supply a combination of right size (offering 24×7) right price (labour arbitrage) and right services.

The right services are the key here. Not only a proven cloud infrastructure, usually via a Joint Venture or partnership, but also a way of managing the clients’ applications, as the numbers in the cloud grow quickly, once the client trusts the cloud. If the client is to manage the apps themselves, then the USP of the cloud dissipates, as the management costs grow. Similarly, if the cloud vendor is merely going to charge a management fee, the same rules apply.

The key lies in providing a software layer for applications management, as well as a proven safe, scaleable cloud environment, all from the same supplier.