New cloud models, new channel approach

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There is a real dichotomy in the Channel at the moment. It is populated by players that are traditionally hardware and services suppliers and those that have been born firmly within the era of the cloud. However, neither hold the key to ultimate success. Rather, it will be those that can adapt as the landscape around them changes. With the launch of new technologies, especially the new breed of hybrid cloud platforms, there are bound to be growing pains. But what changes are needed most? Simon Hendy, Channel Manager at Pulsant, explains.

 

It is fair to say that many traditional hardware channel members have struggled with how to position cloud-based solutions such as software as a service (SaaS). This is because they have been used to running their business by calculating margins on a piece of hardware, whereas with the cloud they are required to undertake consumption modelling where certain assumptions have to be made. For some, selling the cloud is tantamount to licensing fresh air.
At the same time, those born in the cloud are faced with their own challenges. Namely, when a solution such as Azure Stack – that they know they need to add to their portfolio to compete – comes onto the market, they can be put off by the thought of having to deal with the hardware elements of it. This is because they may not have any existing relationships with hardware manufacturers, and don’t have the operation in place to deal with the logistics of getting hardware to site. In some minds, they would rather just sell the services that sit upon it.

Best of both worlds

Yes, there are some in the channel that can cover both cloud and hardware very well, but at either end of the spectrum it can be a real struggle. The time for change is now. The market in general is gravitating towards a hybrid existence, and hybrid models are becoming more attractive for a variety of reasons. One of the largest catalysts is the existence of increasingly stringent industry regulations that require organisations to be aware of where their data is hosted, and that permissions and security are in place to safeguard that data. The one getting all the press is, of course, the impending EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – due to come into force May 2018. From then, firms that fall foul of a data breach face a potential fine of €20m or 4% of annual turnover fines (whichever is greater).
Vendors have noticed this trend too, and are doing all they can to market hybrid as the future. The channel needs to sit up and take notice, otherwise they may well be left behind. Yes, the cloud is important, and the Opex over Capex argument can’t be denied; but with companies wanting to recover some of their assets back on premise, the popularity of a hybrid environment shows no sign of abating.

Safety in numbers

We’re all aware of the value of partnerships, especially in the IT world. But how do you make sure that both your organisation and your customer base are benefiting from the relationships that you’ve established? Those that fully embrace the fact that the future includes a hybrid one are the ones that will be able to deliver true value to their customers
Azure Stack may just be the silver bullet they are after. It is a seamless, single development and delivery platform that allows the channel to deliver Azure services from their own datacentre in a way that is consistent with the public Azure they, and their customers, will no doubt be familiar. Services can be developed in public Azure and seamlessly moved over to Azure Stack and vice versa, saving time, expense and making operations a lot more consistent.

Getting ahead of the pack

Hybrid cloud is not a new concept but is certainly one that continues to gain momentum. It is always important to move with the times and in 2017 more of your customers are wanting to move to a hybrid environment than ever before. Why swim against the tide? By moving your own offerings towards those that promote an increased hybrid cloud adoption means you can address the needs of your customers, explore new market opportunities, add new revenue streams and take advantage of our industry knowledge and exclusive resources.
Azure Stack is perhaps the largest catalyst to this change and is at the forefront of revolutionising the cloud market and enable the channel – both traditional hardware and service and those born into the cloud – the means to drive additional hardware, consultation and support services revenue.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine