By Himanshu Patel
Any channel partner who has seen the numbers on the cloud computing market has to be thinking “How do I get a piece of that?” It’s a good, timely question – and one that I hope to help answer in this brief blog post.
First, the numbers. The 5th Annual Trends in Cloud Report from CompTIA is chock full of them. The report quotes the research firm IDC with separate numbers on the public and private cloud markets.
Public cloud services include various “-as-a-Service” offerings – including software (SaaS), platform (PaaS) and infrastructure (IaaS) – where customers are accessing a shared platform. IDC says this market reached $45.7 billion in 2013 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23% through 2018. Is your business growing that fast today?
On the private cloud side, which refers to hosted services where separate servers and other resources are dedicated to individual customers, IDC expects worldwide spending will exceed $24 billion by 2016.
It gets better. In its survey of end users, CompTIA found that more than 90% of U.S. firms say they’re using some form of cloud computing, and over 60% of those firms say cloud services represent at least a third of their overall IT architecture.
Here’s how the report sums up the cloud scenario:
In the five years that CompTIA has been studying cloud computing, the topic has shifted from a potential game-changer to an essential ingredient of modern IT. In fact, the disruption that cloud computing brings to back-end computing (traditionally done by on-premise mainframes and servers) along with the disruption that mobility brings to front-end computing (traditionally done by desktop or laptop PCs) is ushering in a new era of IT.
CompTIA also addresses channel companies directly, saying:
In effect, the channel has had to step up its game, morphing in some cases from a straight reseller of products – particularly hardware – to a multifaceted provider of services and solutions. While some firms will maintain status quo, most will shift their business model or at least embrace a hybrid approach, adding a services component alongside a product-based revenue stream.
I couldn’t agree more. To me, the biggest question channel partners face is deciding which market to go after.
I see the backup and disaster recovery (DR) market as a natural for cloud. Like most cloud services, it plays hand-in-hand with the move to virtualisation that’s been going on for quite some time. Virtualisation has made it far easier for companies to have backup instances of their server environment ready to go at an off-site location.
Given that many companies, especially small to medium sized businesses, can’t afford to have a second, physical data centre for backup, the cloud becomes an attractive option. Suddenly, SMBs can have the same level of backup and recovery as their enterprise brethren, at a fraction of the cost. Enterprise companies, too, are looking to cloud-based backup and DR as a less expensive option to running multiple data centres, as well as to expand the reach of their backup and DR efforts.
Application development is another area that’s ripe for the cloud. Whereas once companies had to dedicate servers to app dev, including servers not connected to the production network for testing, now all of that can be in the cloud. What’s more, it’s easy to repurpose cloud resources. When one project is finished, the company easily uses the same servers for the next project, or just lets them go if they’re not needed – and saves some money.
Mobile service offerings are another natural, whether it’s unified communications, or enterprise applications such as customer relationship management (CRM) or enterprise resource planning (ERP). With cloud, such services can be delivered to customers no matter where they are or what device they’re using. It’s pretty much an instant solution to the whole bring your own device (BYOD) phenomenon.
No matter what path you choose to the cloud, however, you do need to make sure you’ve got the right infrastructure in place to ensure your services are highly reliable, available and secure. You know well that APC by Schneider Electric offerings are all about ensuring reliability, availability and security – and that’s one thing that doesn’t change in the cloud.
In my next post, I’ll dive in to more detail on how APC by Schneider Electric can help partners make the transition to cloud-based managed service offerings – and get a share of those billions customers are spending. In the meantime, check out CompTIA 5th Annual Trends in Cloud Report for inspiration.
Cloud Market Channel Partner Opportunities
By Himanshu Patel