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Channel driving growth for public cloud giants

The sales have been impressive but Canalys has highlighted the strength of the channel in boosting sales for the likes of Amazon Web Services, Google and Microsoft Azure

Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure and Alibaba Cloud have all seen growth over the past year and the role of the channel in supporting their growth has been highlighted by Canalys.

The financial results released by some of the cloud giants this week would make most firms envious, but channel partners have delivered some of the customers that have been spending in the past year.

Canalys concluded that for 2020 as a whole, total cloud infrastructure services spending grew by 33% to US$142bn. The fourth quarter saw a 32% increase as the pandemic continuing to drive spending to support remote working and learning.

That pressure to move to a hosted world was accompanied by the ongoing digital transformation that most customers are going through, with some of those projects coming back on stream in the fourth quarter.

There was growth across enterprises large and small, and Canalys also noted an increased reliance on the channel from users looking for help navigating their cloud journeys.

“Organisations are turning to trusted business partners to advise, implement, support and manage their cloud journeys, and articulate the real business value of cloud migration,” said Canalys chief analyst Alastair Edwards.

“Organisations are turning to trusted business partners to advise, implement, support and manage their cloud journeys, and articulate the real business value of cloud migration”
Alastair Edwards, Canalys

“Customer digital transformation projects are highly complex, requiring advanced consulting skills, combining deep technical skills with vertical expertise, which the cloud service providers are relying on partners to provide at scale. They are also turning to their partners to drive cloud consumption and deliver full customer lifecycle support,” he added.

The call for assistance in moving to the cloud has been strong right across the channel, from value-added resellers (VARs) to managed service providers (MSPs), and the appetite for higher engagement with hosted platforms is increasing in 2021.

“As organisations start to consider moving more mission-critical workloads to the cloud, they will look to partners to define the right cloud platforms and strategies, as well as solve the most pressing issues around cost management, security, sovereignty and hybrid IT integration,” said Edwards.

When it comes to ranking the vendors in terms of channel engagement, Microsoft Azure is ahead with the largest partner base. But AWS and Google are making efforts to close the gap, creating more opportunities across the indirect world.

There are also signs that customers want to work with channel partners that have various vendor relationships, so they can provide support for multicloud environments and give customers choices.

The market trends that created growth last year are set to continue, with Canalys research analyst Blake Murray expecting more cloud growth. “The rate of digitisation, led by cloud, is gathering pace. Companies are now more confident about releasing budgets for business transformation,” he said.

“Large projects that were postponed [last] year are being reprioritised, led by application modernisation, SAP migrations and workplace transformation. Healthcare, financial services and pharmaceuticals are among the industries leading the way, but even those under most pressure are diverting investments to cloud, opening up new revenue streams and diversifying business models,” added Murray.

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