In one of the most aggressive moves yet by a top global systems integrator to productize services for the cloud, Deloitte Consulting last week launched CloudMix, a family of pre-packaged cloud solutions designed to cut costs and bring more consistency to cloud application deployments.
At launch, CloudMix includes pre-configured solutions based on Salesforce.com and configure-price-quote (CPQ) specialist Apptus, along with pre-packaged integrations using Mulesoft's cloud integration platform. There are also integrations to on-premise ERP systems such as SAP and Infor Lawson. Further additions will follow, including a pre-configured revenue recognition package based on NetSuite.
Also promised are prepackaged cloud-enabled business processes such as the intriguingly named "Tweet to Cash" along with "Procure to Pay, Insights to Action and Tweet to Care."
The new offering is the work of the Emerging Technologies Practice, which was set up earlier this year within Deloitte Consulting's Innovation division. It's led by Paul Clemmons (pictured), who I spoke to by phone earlier this week.
The aim is to offer a set of "building blocks" that will help speed implementations for Deloitte clients, he explained:
"There's a number of building block areas we are focusing on to accelerate and add value to our client delivery processes.
"So that there's a product layer as well as a traditional service layer. It's different from what we've done so it is new for us."
The decision to commercialize (and perhaps even commoditize) its intellectual property by offering pre-packaged solutions is indeed a departure from the traditional SI approach of custom-building implementations for each customer. It's a recognition of changing priorities and demands in the market, Clemmons explained:
"As the cloud domain has matured and the vendors have grown up a bit, we have been seeing clients asking questions about how to connect sfdc to SAP or do a better job of integrating multiple apps into an enterprise.
"Then there's other questions about the bolt-ons to Salesforce like Apptus ..."
"If we do it over and over why not productize and standardize it and have clients get a more consistent solution?
"We've received a lot of corroboration from our customers that there is a need for this and that it will add value to speeding up implementations, standardizing the consistency, improving the quality and also lowering the cost of ownership.
"It's not trying to productize the entire footprint of a solution but just the core pieces that will really hit those three points of speed, quality and cost. That's our belief and that's what we've seen so far."
As well as Deloitte's traditional customer base among established enterprises, the CloudMix offering is also designed to appeal to smaller but fast-growing venture-funded startups, he said:
"Where a customer wants to be cloud first — it tends to be tech companies but not exclusively. Particularly the well funded startups. They've got 200 staff today, probably 1,000 in a years' time. They're trying to build their infrastructure for the future ..."
"There's a part of the market where there are some progressive clients saying why not cloud? Not just the super high-tech companies but insurance, non-profits and traditional industries."
Delivering a more off-the-shelf implementation might be seen as putting Deloitte into competition with smaller cloud integrator specialists such as Cloud Sherpas, Appirio or Bluewolf. But Clemmons said they did not often cross paths:
"Those boutiques in our experience focus on smaller implementations. Anything that's multiple business units, multi-lingual, multi-country or gets to be more than a handful of people really stresses the capability of those vendors.
"They don't do the big mega projects like we do — enterprise global, multiple vendors, high-risk, high-stakes jobs. The boutiques will focus more on the single-platform, single-entity implementations.
"We don't really compete with those smaller firms as much as in the early days. There's a higher end of the market these days with the bigger firms."
The CloudMix solutions will be used by Deloitte's established consulting practices for Salesforce, Workday, SAP and Oracle, while teams from the Emerging Technologies unit will work on implementations that use more specialized expertise, he said:
"We have very big, mature practices around Salesforce, Workday, SAP and Oracle. We have an adjacency model where we collaborate.
"In other cases I actually own the people that do the implementation work, for example around Mulesoft and NetSuite and some of the others.
"We're building the new areas where we don't have the capabilities, and where we do have the capabilities I have people that facilitate working with those practices."
Deloitte is not the first integrator to have tried to productize its implementation and integration expertise. Three years ago cloud integrator Appirio launched CloudWorks, an attempt to commercialize pre-packaged integrations as a pay-as-you-go service, although the offering has since become a part of its in-house toolkit while it has switched focus to crowdsourced development.
More recently, Accenture pledged a $400 million investment in cloud capabilities with the launch of the Accenture Cloud Platform, part of its increasing focus on digital technologies. This mainly provides cloud-hosted services from its own infrastructure rather than prepackaged implementation services, although there's naturally an overlap between the two concepts.
Clemmons said that the CloudMix proposition isn't designed to be a 'cloud services brokerage' because it's still about enabling implementation services rather than simply off-the-shelf capabilities: "It's building blocks to accelerate the success of clients into these kinds of areas."
Clients will no doubt welcome the faster time-to-market and lower costs that these prepackaged services ought to bring. It will be interesting to track the success of the CloudMix offering and the rate of take-up in Deloitte projects.
Disclosure: Oracle, Salesforce.com and SAP are diginomica premium partners. The author provided consultancy to Appirio prior to the launch of CloudWorks.
Photo credits: Courtesy of Deloitte