A long long time ago I learned a mnemonic called MAPS. It was taught to me by Citrix Systems, as a way of selling their MetaFrame software. It worked a treat as it was couched in easy to understand language, common sense and very practical. Using MAPS played into the hands of a Citrix sale because the alternative ( slow performance, unusable remote access, DR etc ) was suddenly unpalatable.
If you cant remember that far ( and therefore not as old as myself ) each Letter represented the four characteristics of a application delivery scenario:-
Management, Availability, Performance and Security
It was easy to use. it rolled off the tongue and because Citrix had the market on alternative application delivery it was commercially very successful.
For years’ MAPS has laid dormant in the back of my brain ( the dead bit of course ) until I started to see that selling Cloud was presenting the same challenge as we had with remote access and application deliver. How do you assess and quantify whether – “cloud is a suitable decision to make?” ( and actually it doesn’t just mean cloud ).
The ‘beauty’ of MAPS back with Citrix then, and now today with cloud, is that it makes sure your conversation is balanced and deep enough to cover the bases. Of course, a deep dive technical person will have a number of approaches as would a Prince II/Six Sigma PM.
But a sales guy? Well if you could understand MAPS sufficient to have a few stock questions in your head, with an understanding of how the answers direct to or away from cloud depending on their relevance, then WOW!! I sound excited because I’m told that sales people typically rely on other people to do the questioning. I’m also told that sales people sell managed services and contracts so cloud isn’t something they would come across. It wont surprise you ( but maybe it will for a sales person ) to learn that Managed Services is Cloud, Cloud is Managed Services, and I don’t know anyone who signs up for this stuff without performing a MAPS checklist. Whether it is called MAPS or any other means the result is the same.
So stepping up a bit, you will notice an additional letter in the mnemonic. Another S.
This stands for sustainability. It caught me eye as I realized that if we are moving to the cloud new world ( which we are ) then one massive question we have to ask and understand the possible answers for is – SCALABILITY.
Let me quote from an excellent paper I have recently read by Forrester entitled “Cloud Computing Brings Demand For Elastic Applications”.
Its co-authors – Rymer & Gualtieri talk about the new breed of applications that will be written to scale up and down and meet the demands of elastic computing as so often promised by cloud today. They talk about the gap between todays monolithic applications, the limitations of underlying infrastructure (storage, network) , API operability, data volumes (big data in other terms ), layers of middleware and control architectures and so on.
Forrester go and talk about the future and how the future is all about elastic applications that fully exploit cloud’s advances in application availability, performance, and scale.
For information Forrester defines application elasticity as:
The ability of an application to automatically adjust the infrastructure resources it uses to
accommodate varied workloads and priorities while maintaining availability and performance.
As we all know, application development and delivery teams are not mature in these designs because it’s much more complex for them take on responsibility for these additional infrastructure concerns. Raising the ante on complexity like this requires sophisticated developers who can design their own platforms. This is why we have a number of providers like Google, Amazon, Force and Microsoft offering Platform As A Service (PaaS) services.
What I love about the Forrester definition by the way, is that it nearly echoes MAPPS but leaves out words like ‘well managed and secure’. No problem because Forrester realizes that if you are a cloud provider then you will have implicitly deployed services that provide enterprise management and security as part of the plumbing so to speak.
SO what does this all mean to a sales guy or anyone in fact thinking about having a discussion about cloud?
Its clear to me that you need a plan. You know that. So practice ( and practice again till you have memorised it ) the Five Simple Letters and have a number of questions behind each one.
- How should it be managed?
- How available does it need to be?
- How should it perform?
- How secure must it be?
- How scalable does it need to be?
Being adept at rolling MAPSS off your tongue and developing your own style to tease out the answers and deeper questions is a skill. How much of a skill? Nothing like rocket science or brain surgery. Nothing like nuclear fusion engineering or flying a supersonic jet fighter. In fact as simple as ITS YOUR JOB to know this stuff.
Now if anyone wants my list of MAPPS questions then drop me a line. Happy to share privately but try and write down some of your own and test them out.
Have a great day.