Trust, salesmanship key to SMB cloud

Choosing a cloud provider is a leap of faith for small businesses, according to Danny Arraj, managing partner for Blackstone Waterhouse Lawyers.
Written by Suzanne Tindal, Contributor

Choosing a cloud provider is a leap of faith for small businesses, according to Danny Arraj, managing partner for Blackstone Waterhouse Lawyers.

Blackstone Waterhouse moved its infrastructure to the cloud in 2010 with OBT. It was looking for scalability for its growth; reliability, which hadn't been inherent within its in-house servers; mobility, so its workers could be productive anywhere; and security, to avoid the normal small-business bungles.

However, it took almost a year of the cloud provider wooing Blackstone Waterhouse, according to Arraj. He said that he didn't just want to know about the cloud providers' statistics, which he could research himself, but also whether he could trust the firm.

"Our dating process took some time," he said. "Because for me, at least, there's a huge level of trust and confidence, more than most managing partners, who have a greater understanding than I do in IT."

He said that he'd done a lot of research and collected data and information, but that once the basics were satisfied, it came down to a less objective measure on which company to choose.

"I had to also trust you and your organisation. That was the linchpin, for me," he explained.

"In making that decision, it was based on: number one, trust and confidence; and secondly, whether I liked you; thirdly, costings — whether I saw benefit."

When asked where the trust came from, Arraj said, "Shane [Muller, OBT managing director] doesn't come across as overselling a service. He's genuinely concerned about what value he can add; if he can't, he won't do business with you."

He explained that he definitely looked at each company's record during his research, but that OBT wasn't unique. In the end, it came down to more personal attributes.

"Any transaction, when you're dealing with trust, trust has some personal attributes to it. So it's not objective," he said.

When asked about making IT system changes to Blackstone Waterhouse — whether he would expect OBT to put all the systems in place, install the software and conduct the necessary networking — Arraj said, "Can you translate that for me? Because I'm not that IT savvy.

"To a very small customer, we're the IT guy ... to the next level up, we're the IT manager; to the next level up, we're the literally the CIO and the IT department," Muller said.

Blackstone Waterhouse has 25 employees now, but will reach 50 by the end of June.

"We have to deal with things like printers, scanners, dictation devices, new websites ... we engage with the customer, and we become the front to the vendors."

Since Blackstone Waterhouse doesn't have any IT personnel anymore (it decided that it didn't need any when it moved to cloud), this cloud agreement does require trust.

"We have complete faith," Arraj said.

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