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Canalys: Cloud infrastructure players need the channel

In a hybrid multi-cloud world the channel is in an ideal position to help guide customers to make the right decisions

Working with the channel is going to be key for those in the cloud infrastructure services space looking for growth in a competitive market.

With more customers adopting a multi-cloud strategy the channel has a role to play helping customers knit together their data and applications spread across the likes of AWS, Microsoft and Google .

Canalys has been investigating how things stand after the third quarter and found that the worldwide cloud infrastructure services market increased by 37% in Q3. AWS was top of the pile, followed by Microsoft Azure then Google Cloud.

With a lot of customers using a mixture of providers to house their data and applications the analyst house is arguing that the big cloud providers need to make sure they have a decent network of channel relationships to reach the largest number of customers.

“This balancing creates a huge demand for channel partners to provide consulting, migration, integration and management services across multiple platforms,” said Daniel Liu, Canalys research analyst. “The channel is becoming a new catalyst for continued growth for hyperscale cloud service providers, particularly as competition intensifies.”

There are indications that the message is getting across and the vendors are taking steps to increase the support they provide for partners. Microsoft has one of the largest channel networks but AWS and Google are taking steps to catch up.

The channel is responding in turn with Canalys noting that more are developing the skills and knowledge required to support those vendor relationships.

“The largest systems integrators are investing in partnerships and building business practices with all three of the top cloud providers – AWS, Microsoft and more recently Google Cloud – recognising that their customers want support across all the major platforms. Other channel partners are increasingly doing the same,” said Alastair Edwards, chief analyst at Canalys.

Edwards added that the activities happening across the wider ecosystem would also have a role to play. Alliances and collaboration have been one of the themes of the year and the cloud infrastructure segment has not been left untouched by vendor moves to secure relationships that provide more reach.

“Success will increasingly be defined by the technology alliances forged by the cloud providers, as well as developing relationships with key channel categories,” added Edwards. “Microsoft has built new partnerships with Oracle, VMware and most recently SAP, which give it greater credibility with enterprises as core applications are migrated to the cloud.”

All eyes though will continue to be on AWS and Canalys is expecting the firm to make inroads into the on-prem world with the launch of its Outposts server, which will put the vendor into data centres and edge environments.

At the recent Canalys Channels Forum in Barcelona the analyst house made the prediction that AWS would be a top four on-premises server vendor in the US and Western Europe within three years. The channel was also highlighted as being the main route to market for those customers that wanted help deploying and managing a hybrid environment.

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