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Cloud Computing Examples & Analogies – A Sales Guide For IT Providers

By Jess Coburn: Founder & Chief Executive Officer

This is the second part of our comprehensive sales guide, How to Sell Cloud Computing Services, designed to help channel partners and cloud resellers improve how they sell cloud services to their clients and prospects. In our last sales guide, Explaining the Fundamental of Cloud Computing, we explored the fundamentals of cloud computing including a workable definition, background, and examples that you will help you sell cloud services.

The following sales guide serves as a resource for channel partners cloud resellers who are looking for techniques to explain and relate “The Cloud” to their clients without adding technical jargon and acronyms. After reading this guide, you’ll have several concrete cloud computing examples and analogies that you can use when introducing, explaining, and relating cloud computing services to your prospective clients.

  1. Cloud Computing Analogies
  2. Cloud Computing Examples
  3. Example A: The Internet
  4. Example B: Grid Computing
  5. Example C: Server-Client Architecture
  6. Wrapping Up


1. Using Cloud Computing Analogies

As any good educator and salesperson knows, before you can win a person’s vote of confidence, they must first have a grasp of the idea you’re attempting to communicate. While cloud computing isn’t a terribly complex concept, relating it to a familiar product or service can make the process much smoother and improve your sales pitch.

We highly recommend using cloud computing analogies to communicate the concept to your prospects. In many cases, your prospects will have a basic understanding of the technology behind cloud services or be only somewhat familiar with the term. In our previous guide, Explaining the Fundamental of Cloud Computing, we provided you with an elegant definition that you can to offer to your prospective clients. However, your role as a technology provider (and educator) depends on communicating more than textbook definitions. Anybody can do that (and your competition is already be doing so).

Relating cloud services in a way that your prospect can quickly grasp and connect to business goals will go a long way to moving the conversation from your prospect asking “what is the cloud” to your prospect connecting the dots to see how cloud services fit into their company’s big picture. Here are a few cloud computing analogies you can use with your prospects to help them quickly grasp the cloud and the benefits that it offers:

“Cloud computing is like giving your IT department thermostats that they can turn on, up, down, or off based on their needs. Need extra processing power to cover your peak period? Crank it up – and then turn it down when you’re finished.”

“Cloud computing is like plugging into a central power grid instead of generating your own power.”

Mentioning is a great example because decisions makers often use and are familiar with the benefits that come with cloud services without even knowing it. Your prospects have already spent plenty of time logging into their accounts various locations and using services without installing software. Ask your prospect to “Think of cloud software (SaaS) as an online service that they can log into from anywhere with an Internet connection. It’s like Gmail or”

Explaining cloud infrastructure (hardware) using analogies may seem to be a little more intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Using the above example above also works for cloud hardware because every decision maker understands that there is a well-oiled, efficient machine behind every product and service we use. “Ask your prospects to think of cloud hardware as the nuts and bolts that power their climate control.”

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2. Cloud Computing Examples / Comparisons

After you provide a cloud computing definition and make the connection with the analogies listed above, try providing some cloud computing comparisons to provide legitimacy and move the sales process forward. We have listed out three comparisons: the Internet, Utility Computing, and Client Server Architecture.

We recommend using comparisons based on your prospect’s level of technical expertise. For example, prospects with a basic understanding of cloud computing will likely respond better to a comparison made to the Internet than they will a comparison made to Client Server Architecture. If your prospect’s understanding of technology stops at “the Internet,” use that as your comparison.

If your prospect has a more in-depth understanding of technology, they will likely respond better to more advanced examples, like Utility Computing or Client Server Architecture. The goal here is to match the level of your prospect’s technical background with the comparison that best matches their level of expertise.

If you’re prospect is exceptionally technical and has a working knowledge of how cloud services work, you’ll likely be using comparisons to quickly communicate that you too understand the nuances of cloud services. Don’t be surprised if a technical sales prospect does some probing to confirm that you possess a satisfactory level of expertise.

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3. Example A: The Internet

Using the Internet is a great way to relate cloud computing to your prospects with a basic understanding of technology. Because virtually every person has an online account of some sort, they can easily make the “connection” between an online service like Gmail and cloud services. The Internet is a great way to illustrate some of the fundamentals of cloud services, including accessibility, scalability, and virtualization. If your prospect is a decision maker, mentioning works too.

Remember: Cloud computing does not equal the Internet. The Internet is merely how cloud services are delivered, so it’s quite easy for cloud computing and the Internet to become synonymous.

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4. Example B: Utility Computing:

For prospects with a more advanced understanding of the technology driving cloud services, you can use the example utility computing. Utility computing involves sourcing computing resources on a metered basis or an on-demand basis. Customers will only pay for the services used rather than the whole infrastructure or a flat fee.

Cloud computing incorporates the same resource usage and billing mechanism from utility computing. End-users and organizations can source computational resources on an on-demand basis, and then are charged on either a pay-as-you go billing mode or for a flat monthly subscription fee. They don’t have to pay any upfront capital cost to utilize these resources, and can access them as a standard utility.

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5. Example C: Client-Server Architecture

Client-server architecture is one of the most common computing architectures used and implemented in organizations. It works in a way that most of the computational intensive tasks, resources, and applications are delivered by a server, whereas a client only requests and receives them. The server usually resides or is deployed within the organization, then accessed over the Intranet/network remotely, managing all or most of the resources by itself.

The cloud computing delivery model is quite similar to client-server architecture. End-users and organizations access data, applications, computing resources, and services from a remote cloud server over the Internet. The client, in this situation, doesn’t have much information about the server, as in its exact geographical location and type. However, they are dependent on the server to provide data, applications, and services.

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6. Wrapping Up

With a little bit of luck and a lot of preparation, you should be able to relate the concept of cloud computing based on your prospect’s background to help them quickly grasp the concept and connect the dots from a dry textbook definition to an viable opportunity that they can immediately see value in.

Don’t be discouraged if one of your prospects doesn’t connect the dots after you deliver a well-rehearsed and refined performance. It’s entirely possible they may need time to let the concept of cloud computing gel in their mind or hear concrete organizational specific examples that they can implement. If your prospect is the later, checkout for our next sales guide – Cloud Computing Benefits For SMBs.

We hope the above sales guide on cloud computing examples and analogies was helpful. If you have different examples or experiences relating cloud computing, we’d love to hear about them! Feel free to reach out by sending an email over to Cara Pluff, our Director of Sales, or by completing a brief online form to get more information about joining our Cloud Reseller Program.