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The Cloud, the channel, the future

Johnny Carpenter, iland Director of Sales EMEA, explains how channel organisations can exploit new opportunities in multi-cloud computing

For many organisations, the cloud journey has only just begun, while others continue to collect clouds as if they were coins or comic books. Both groups are venturing into uncharted territory.

As CIOs are forced to leave traditional data centres and explore the cloud, they’re finding themselves in need of experienced scouts to clear the path ahead. This is especially true in the new frontier of multicloud computing, where more companies are stacking clouds from multiple providers with little or no means to manage them.

This moment is creating new opportunities for the channel, as the need for cloud infrastructure services grows and businesses integrate multiple providers with existing on-premise infrastructure. According to Canalys, cloud infrastructure services spending is set to surpass $143 billion globally in 2020, driven by IT channel partners.

A channel partner that manages a hybrid environment is in a turnkey position with customers, able to offer flexibility through a choice of different providers, while maintaining the primary relationship on a subscription basis, cementing sustainable long-term revenues.

Getting into this privileged position requires the channel to address how it works with Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) and customers. How can channel companies best prepare for the future? What opportunities lie ahead? And what value can a cloud-experienced channel company offer its customers?

The opportunity of hybrid IT
A key factor is the growing trend for multicloud and hybrid IT. Abandoning the maxim of ‘standardisation at all costs’, businesses are realising they can effectively mix on-premise and multi-cloud infrastructure resources to get the optimum combination of speed, affordability, compliance and security. Recent research1 found that 84% of companies now have a multi-cloud strategy, with the proportion of enterprises implementing a hybrid public-private cloud strategy growing from 51% in 2018 to 58% in 2019 – a clear direction of travel towards a hybrid, multi-cloud future.

Companies are looking to use the strengths of different CSPs and deployment models, depending on their application, data, compliance and performance requirements. The result they seek is a customised deployment that exactly meets the needs of the business. The challenge is in selecting the right options. That’s the point where the channel and CSP partners can offer guidance. It is vital they team up to best serve customers and achieve success in the cloud.

So, what are customers seeking from suppliers when deploying hybrid IT?

First, they want them to demonstrate deep understanding of the requirements and drivers behind the business’s IT strategy – consultancy skills need to be a key area of investment. Next, they want recommendations on the optimum services, deployment and integration, plus migration and ongoing support. They want to know how the partner will manage their data and applications across the various elements of their hybrid IT infrastructure. Finally, they need partners to simplify the billing and management of cloud services. It’s no small challenge but one to which the channel is equal if it draws on its CSP partners to bolster in-house expertise.

Collaboration and trust
That’s why future channel/CSP partnerships must double down on collaboration to offer a service that is seamless from the customer point of view. This is especially critical when it comes to back up and disaster recovery (DR) services. Trust is a fundamental requirement of back up and DR. The customer has to be able to count on support and guidance when needed. There can’t be an arms-length relationship between customer, channel and CSP; it needs to be a true partnership.

When it comes to collaboration, channel businesses need to assess prospective CSP partners on what they will bring to the partnership. Can they assist with cloud scoping tools, concierge services for customer onboarding and migration? Do they have specialist skills that fit with the client demographic, e.g. a strong security and compliance offering? What can they bring to the ongoing customer relationship in terms of simplifying cloud management and billing? At the bottom line, will they help close the deal and keep the customer happy?

Flexibility is another key CSP attribute. There’s no such thing as a customer ‘onesize-fits-all’, so flexibility is needed when delivering cloud services. Inflexible partners cause needless bumps in the road to building a strong customer relationship.

There’s no denying that there is a huge opportunity for the channel to secure sustainable long-term revenues from cloud deployments while still benefiting from its expertise in on-premise deployments. Thanks to the predicted growth in hybrid IT, the key to success will be selecting the right partners to take along the journey.

Enhanced partner programme

Following a 100% increase in annual channel revenue, iland is enhancing its global channel sales programme to address growing demand in enterprises for its secure cloud backup, infrastructure and disaster recovery solutions.

Built on proven VMware technology, iland solutions, including Disaster Recovery as a Service, Infrastructure as a Service and Backup as a Service, have traditionally been used by small and medium-sized organisations that lack the resources and expertise to deploy, test and manage their own cloud-based disaster recovery, backup and infrastructure solutions.

With its new partner programme, iland is expanding its partner network of resellers and managed service providers to reach a broader audience of enterprise customers that understand the value of migrating solutions to the cloud.

The new programme covers a range of channel relationships – reference partners, resellers and MSPs – and is designed to simplify working with iland, for example by providing greater visibility into the sales pipeline and making it easier for partners to identify leads, close sales and register new deals.

It also features a new partner portal for training, certification and sales management and a complementary cloud assessment tool to help partners and customers plan and manage their data and workloads in the cloud.

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