Public or Private, Not All Clouds are the Same, Interview with Tony DiBenedetto, CEO

These days, we all have our heads in the clouds. Now, Tony DiBenedetto, Concerto Cloud Services founder and CEO, points out that we can put our feet in the clouds, too. Sarah Morgan of Integral US, interviews CEO Tony DiBenedetto, who founded Concerto Cloud Services to provide software, platform, and infrastructure cloud services to end customers and partners.

This interview, which has been featured on Integral US as well as Huffington Post, answers some key questions about why clouds are not equal, regardless of their public or private deployment method. Read on for a few of Tony's key points.

SDM: How do you define Cloud Services?

TB: To me, the cloud includes on-demand, shared resources on the Internet, independent of the user, with ubiquitous access regardless of geography or device. You may be connected to a cloud-like Salesforce, Amazon, Azure, or Concerto. It’s the concept of connecting on-demand, highly configurable computer resources, such as a hybrid cloud model, an application in the cloud, or a platform in the cloud.

SDM: What is the difference between hosted in the cloud versus enabled in the cloud?

TB: Some distinction is in the browser and the application. You can have an app on top of a cloud infrastructure. You can run an old version of Dynamics GP and still take advantage of cloud infrastructure; you’re just not leveraging all the cool things you can do with the app in the cloud.

With many of the public cloud options, you are sharing one application and a lot of virtual databases. The more critical the application, the more we recommend it be single-tenant, or private cloud, with one application instance and one database instance on top of a virtualized cloud environment. That gives you the best user experience and more flexibility. With Concerto, we can also tailor a customer’s security and compliance requirements for their specific business and industry. A private cloud allows unlimited interfaces and super high performance for users who don’t want to share the application or the infrastructure.

SDM: Concerto has been in the market for more than three years – what are your favorite lessons learned?

TB: First, that not all clouds are equal. Companies quickly discover that what they get with many cloud providers is a very generic offering. A lot of the cloud providers built homogenous environments that aren’t finely tuned for any particular use case. Users want a different experience if they have a bigger database or need more security. Concerto makes the cloud very specific for a customer’s individual needs.

I think of a public cloud like going to a shopping mall; you need to know what you are looking for or else it gets overwhelming. Take buying shoes, for example. You want good customer service and a shoe that looks and fits great, but you have to find just the right store to get that experience. And even then you may wear the shoes and find they aren’t comfortable or they fall apart. At Concerto, we custom make the pair of shoes for you. We measure your feet, massage them, and put the best leather around them. Then we monitor the fit and keep changing it to make sure it’s comfortable and meets your expectations.

The other point is that some providers can put your core application in the cloud but have no idea how to interface with the ISV community. Concerto has a partner program specifically for ISVs. We can offer them subscription-based pricing and sales and marketing support to become cloud enabled. We know that offering a product in the cloud is not enough. Customers must have the ability to configure an ISV’s app with AX and GP. Only then do you know you’ve picked the right cloud for the right workload.

For example, a company’s travel and expense application is important, but not necessarily mission-critical to the business, so putting it in a public cloud like Azure or Google might be appropriate. But if you are running your ecommerce application online, you can’t afford to have it go down. If you want the higher level of performance and security, you need to choose a private cloud.

The cloud is not just about apps and security. We are learning more and more about what the customer wants and what the market is demanding. That is the kind of experience Concerto is trying to offer. Our customers don’t have to be cloud experts; we take care of that for them.

SDM: Does Concerto support Azure or VMware?

TB: We are developing our hybrid cloud model, which connects Concerto with Azure. In certain scenarios, customers may want Dynamics AX on Azure and we absolutely will offer them that option. I think every customer situation is different. Concerto provides the solution our customer needs. If it makes sense to run in a hybrid model —some apps in Concerto and some in Azure — we are pretty far ahead of the game.

SDM: Does client security cause you to lose sleep at night?

TB: With compliance and security, we should lose sleep. We spend a lot of time preventing hacking. The great news about a virtual private cloud is that it’s difficult to have a breach across all customers because of the single-tenant environment. We are doing a lot to protect our customers. We provide intrusion detection, third-party and ethical hacking.

SDM: Have you had a breach?

TB: Never.

We have several levels of support. We offer both cloud infrastructure and Dynamics application support. With our support group out of Australia, we’re able to handle the 24/7/365 volume. Our SLAs are at the top of the chart, and we have a 99.99% guaranteed uptime. All of our apps are mobile-enabled across any device.

SDM: What parting words do you have?

TB: The cloud market is such a crowded space. We are trying to educate people that cloud is not just a commodity. It’s not just focusing on cheap computing. With Concerto, you have computing that is efficient in the cloud and you have a high level of quality. Remember the shoe metaphor. Those $10 shoes hurt, they look awful and the leather peels off, so what is the point? Put your feet in the clouds with Concerto and get a custom fit!


For more about what sets Concerto apart as a cloud provider, visit the Concerto Difference Page. To learn more about Tony DiBenedetto, read his bio.