Star Spangled Spat!

In what looks to be a ‘handbags at dawn’ spat ISP Star and the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) seem to be at each other’s throats over operational motives.

The CIF has issued a press release which says;

Star has re-badged and re-shaped a club of friendly vendors whom they have historically worked with to supposedly meet the needs of British SMEs transparently – NONSENSE say the Cloud Industry Forum, it’s just a commercial partner programme of non-competing businesses!

Andy Burton, Chairman of the Cloud Industry Forum, stated: “Whilst CIF believe the Cloud is a great place for businesses to collaborate and will change the way in which the IT supply chain is structured and operates, recent statements by Star’s employee Grant Tanner (quelle-surprise its Business Development person), seems to infer that its creation of its Cloud Alliance is somehow above reproach and only operates in the end user’s commercial interest.

“The fact that Star also seems to infer that the IT Channel, that has supported the UK SMB market for many years through its expert and trusted relationships, has no more value and is also wholly incorrect (a point evidenced by the independent research carried out for CIF earlier this year see www.cloudindustryforum.org White Paper 2.0 Cloud and The Supply Chain).

“Apparently a rigorous process was implemented (by Star themselves we assume) to whittle down literally “thousands” of would-be cloud providers and enablers into a list of just 15-17 businesses that can meet the needs of the UK SMB market according to Star’s BizDev person. Unsurprisingly, the only firms making the cut were firms that don’t compete with Star, and many of who they have historically worked with on opportunities. I would love to hear from some of the hopeful companies that supposedly must have had their business plans dashed by not becoming a Member of this ‘new’ organisation, but somehow I doubt that even one of these claimed ‘thousands’ will ever come forward,” said Andy Burton.

However, one thing neither Star, nor its brain-child the Cloud Alliance can ever do is demonstrate it is transparent with regard to open market competition unless it is equally prepared to be held to account to an independent and certified Code of Practice as is operated by CIF.

“As such, and until this is rectified, end users should clearly see this Alliance as nothing more than a collaborative commercial working agreement between a private group of companies who believe they have nothing to lose and something to gain from working together. The fact that their basis of operation is quoted as “Members of the UK Cloud Alliance don’t compete outwardly with Star or any other member”, basically means there is absolutely no independence or transparency whatsoever (unless of course transparency is limited to a set of integrated proposals from a pre-conceived supply chain not open to competition).”

Burton, in rebuttal of Mr Tanner’s claim that CIF is just a talking shop said, “CIF is professional, independent and not-for-profit – it can be trusted to be impartial and not operate to the agenda of specific vendors. CIF is open to everyone to participate in and actively encourages healthy but transparent competition. CIF has a published and independently overseen Code of Practice and certification scheme which is aimed at enabling end users to make better and more informed decisions by cutting through vendor hype and enabling truly professional providers to clearly communicate their capabilities in a way that does not get obscured by unsubstantiated claims. Clearly this latest marketing scheme initiated by Star is just the latest in a string of vendor specific activities.”

“In dressing this clearly non-independent commercial offering up as the Cloud Alliance, Star is trying to find a place for itself in the growing cloud computing market. Whilst we welcome any advances that assist end users, we do not recognise or support any organisation that risks misleading the market. I am sure that it is not Star’s intent to mislead, and therefore we look forward to seeing their claimed Code of Practice and Service Level Agreements, that they talk about on their new website, so that we can all understand these claims about how this benefits end users and fulfils their claims of transparency and avoiding any issues around ‘margin upon margin’.”

The CIF concludes by saying “Interestingly, at the time of print, the only thing that links the Cloud Alliance site to Star, is the one and only case study placed on the Alliance website, even though the case study has not been formally obtained via this new ‘Alliance’.”

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