When the expected cost does not match the actual cost in cloud

In the relationship between customer and business, expectations are everything. In a lot of ways, the shift to cloud computing has evened the playing field for what is expected in terms of cost, responsibilities, and the services exchanged between IT customers and providers. With cloud services, customers can experience far more of a service before buying it, see a clear unit price from the outset and understand the constraints of the service-level agreements. However, uncertainty still lingers in the exact specifications for many solutions, as the complexity of the design and variability of the actual utilization continue to make accurately predicting real-world cost for cloud solutions difficult for many customers.

While there is still typically a difference in cost between on-premises IT deployments and cloud, the unexpectedly higher cost of cloud projects impacts the market in several ways. Highly efficient and mature IT organizations can often use their own internal resources to compete with the price points delivered through public cloud options. For those customers, cost overruns make cloud deployments more expensive, rather than slightly more cost-effective, when compared with utilizing internal resources. Beyond those marginal customers, however, cost overruns universally wreak havoc on internal budgeting processes, which depend on predictable cost structures. Particularly compared with more stable internal IT funding, variability on a monthly basis puts serious stress on the finance function. Lastly, cost overruns impact other IT project decisions, serving as a deterrent to new and expanded cloud projects. In this respect, this unpredictability is bad for all cloud vendors, providing motivation for these providers collectively to further clarify the customer’s financial expectations.

For cloud infrastructure market leader Amazon Web Services (AWS), the problem seems particularly relevant, coming up in a number of discussions with customers. For a vendor that is far ahead of nearest competitor Microsoft, cost overruns are on one of the biggest flaws in the current AWS customer experience. The struggle of customers starts with matching the vast catalog of services available from AWS to the actual IT solution needed. Many customers noted their initial designs, once implemented, lack the performance needed to meet their performance requirements. Whether it’s the tier of storage or the amount of data transfer, customers are forced to change the configuration to more expensive options or incur usage charges above their original expectations.

In speaking with decision makers about their experience, the need for more assistance in both the design and operational optimization are needed to close this gap in the initial expectations and actual costs of cloud implementations. These budget overages may be positive for AWS in the short term, contributing to some of its continued strong revenue growth, but in the long term, they could be the most profound threat. If second-tier public cloud vendors such as IBM, Microsoft and Google can develop and deliver streamlined design and pricing calculators that address these unexpected cost overruns, it could very well help carve out a market niche that certainly adds value for customers. AWS may not have as much incentive to close these expectation gaps, but for competing vendors, any advantage is critical and this could be one that makes a difference long term.


Note: This blog is the first in a series driven by TBR’s Cloud Customer Research reports, which focus on applications and infrastructure workloads. More than 50 interviews and 200 surveys are being conducted. Blog posts like this one will highlight the key trends and topics impacting the cloud industry.

Defining a new hybrid landscape

TBR brings together analysis of hybrid-influenced and hybrid-enabling vendors and technologies, examining and defining the hybrid landscape

Many hybrid players legitimize their presence in hybrid engagements through partnerships with vendors in adjacent markets. Vendors with entrenched legacy assets are well-positioned to cross-sell integrated solutions that fuel hybrid-influenced revenue opportunity. — TBR’s 4Q17 Hybrid Benchmark

The greatest revenue growth opportunities derive from the front end of A&I implementations, where services can be more differntiated

Analytics and insights services segment overview

Analytics and insights (A&I) services revenue expanded 13.7% on average in 3Q17 for the 20 vendors benchmarked by TBR, spurred by growing client interest in data-intensive digital transformation initiatives requiring services such as consulting, data integration and analytics application development. Consulting continues to lead segment revenue growth, but double-digit expansion in Integration and Implementation (I&I) and Application Development and Maintenance (ADM) highlights increasing demand for execution.

  • Consulting revenue growth continues to accelerate, partly driven by Accenture and McKinsey, both of which are top six vendors in revenue and year-to-year growth for the segment. A new Digital Strategy consulting practice positions IBM to compete more effectively with these vendors for advisory-led opportunities that lead to cognitive and analytics implementation engagements.
  • As enterprises look to become data-driven, vendors help them navigate increasingly complex choices around which data sources to draw from for analytics and how to integrate legacy and new data sources, accelerating growth in the I&I segment.
  • A&I ADM revenue growth remains robust as clients seek vendors’ support to build analytics applications that improve the user experience and drive business outcomes. Client centers remain a key tool for vendors to showcase their application design and coinnovation capabilities.
  • Infusion of automation and AI into managed services delivery slows revenue growth for the segment, which is dominated by technology-centric vendors that can bundle services with A&I software and infrastructure sales. Revenue leader IBM recently unveiled the Integrated Analytics System, which provides machine learning capabilities to accelerate data integration and analytics performance.

3Q17 Analytics & Insights Professional Services Vendor Benchmark

Equipment vendors continue to struggle with lower sales volume, while IT services and software-centric companies enjoy growth, thanks to digital

HAMPTON, N.H. (Jan. 5, 2018) — According to Technology Business Research, Inc.’s (TBR) 3Q17 Telecom Infrastructure Services Benchmark, leading vendors are making significant strategy changes and retrenching around their core competencies to weather subdued communication service provider (CSP) spend.

“Leading vendors are realizing they must transform themselves before they can effectively help their customers transform,” said TBR Telecom Senior Analyst Chris Antlitz. “New technologies and processes, particularly in the areas of cloud, artificial intelligence, cognitive analytics, automation and DevOps, promise significant agility, better outcomes and cost savings, and vendors must not only offer solutions that leverage these technologies to their customers but also adopt and employ these technologies internally to be credible, differentiate and remain competitive.”

Tier 1 network solution providers (NSPs) are going back to their product-led roots and doubling down on partnerships. Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia are all transitioning back to being product-led, which is an about-face from their prior strategy of being services-led. This strategy shift indicates that product-centric vendors have realized that the optimal go-to-market model is to stick to their core businesses and core competencies as much as possible and augment capabilities with partnerships.

TBR believes this strategy shift means NSPs will increase emphasis on product-attached services, which is their main telecom infrastructure services (TIS) profit pool, particularly maintenance services. This retrenchment by NSPs will also enable IT services companies to have a clearer path to capitalize on digital opportunities.

TBR’s Telecom Infrastructure Services Benchmark provides quarterly analysis of the deployment, maintenance, professional services and managed services markets for network and IT suppliers. Suppliers covered include Accenture, Amdocs, Atos, Capgemini, CGI, China Communications Services, Ciena, Cisco, CommScope, CSG International, Ericsson, Fujitsu, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Huawei, IBM, Infosys, Juniper Networks, NEC, Nokia, Oracle, Samsung, SAP, Tata Consultancy Services, Tech Mahindra, Wipro and ZTE.

For additional information about this research or to arrange a one-on-one analyst briefing, please contact Dan Demers at +1 603.929.1166 or [email protected].



Technology Business Research, Inc. is a leading independent technology market research and consulting firm specializing in the business and financial analyses of hardware, software, professional services, and telecom vendors and operators. Serving a global clientele, TBR provides timely and actionable market research and business intelligence in a format that is uniquely tailored to clients’ needs. Our analysts are available to address client-specific issues further or information needs on an inquiry or proprietary consulting basis.

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IT incumbents beware: Startup disruption has only just begun

The Collision conference highlighted the dynamic world of startups, particularly those chasing growth opportunities around disruptive technologies — similar to the business strategies established IT players such as IBM (NYSE: IBM) and Accenture (NYSE: ACN) are moving toward. Though unequipped for enterprisewide, consulting-led digital transformation engagements, startups will likely increasingly challenge traditional systems integrators (SIs) for discrete digital projects by offering lower pricing, deep niche expertise, more agile delivery, and emphasis on solving clients’ business needs instead of upselling additional services. Startups also threaten larger vendors in the digital talent war by creating cultures that attract highly coveted design, technology and development talent with flexible work arrangements and accelerated career paths. We expect the trend of large SIs acquiring digital startups to continue for the foreseeable future. However, as the very best startups increasingly gain visibility through successful projects with high-profile brands, we believe SIs will need to work harder (and pay more) to persuade startups to become part of larger, legacy IT services organizations.



Collision was created in 2014 as part of a series of international events hosted by the founders of Web Summit, the Dublin-based event promoted as an alternative to large-scale technology conferences such as the International Consumer Electronics Showcase and the SXSW Interactive Festival. The conference acts as a forum for startup founders, executives of leading large corporations, investors and influencers to connect and network. In its second year being held at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, the conference welcomed more than 19,000 attendees from 119 countries. The 605 companies exhibiting products, services and technology solutions across three days included 480 “Alphas,” or very early stage startups; 88 “Betas,” or startups that have raised more than $1 million in funding; and 26 “Starts,” or growth-stage startups that have raised more than $3 million in funding. Interspersed with the exhibition booths were four stages hosting nine tracks of sessions with 357 speakers and moderators across a variety of topics, including the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, big data, SaaS, design, the future of computing, marketing, sustainability, music, sports and startup best practices (termed “Startup University”). TBR also interacted one-on-one with several startup founders and speakers