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Channel plugging the multicloud skills gap

VMware virtual cloud event highlights the vital role that partners are playing in helping customers navigate a cloud world

Demand for cloud has risen over the course of the coronavirus pandemic and partners are in an important position when it comes to helping drive customer strategy.

Cloud formed the basis of a VMware event looking into how partners and customers had adapted over the past year, with it clear that the channel has played a crucial role.

“People are now realising the possibilities and turning to the experts in the industry, the channel partners,” said Joe Baguley, vice-president and chief technology officer for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at VMware.

“Our partners...can advise you which of these clouds is going to be best to solve your problem,” he said. “We’re also seeing customers turn towards the channel and to partners to fill the skills gap customers have around adopting cloud services.”

Gavin Jolliffe, co-founder and CEO of xtravirt, agreed that a skills gap at the customer level was making life harder for those users looking to develop a multicloud strategy.

“One of the things we’re seeing is not only a global supply-demand gap in terms of skills, but the nature of the skills changing. The traditional roles in IT are moving really fast. We’re seeing a lot of convergence where you can’t label an individual and the skill trees required these days to change and operate bleeding across a number of different facets,” he said.

“The role we are starting to play a lot more is taking that complexity away and answering the question, ‘How do I get from A to B?’, and then guiding that process, because the ability to ‘do it yourself’ is becoming more and more challenging,” he added.

Jolliffe said there were different use cases for getting benefits from the cloud, but it was important for the channel to have clear conversations with customers about the options before embarking on a project.

“If you focus on benefit realisation – when and what am I going to get back from that investment? – then when I’m [back] into business as usual, understand that you need to track more than a set of requirements. You want to target some measurable KPIs [key performance indicators] upfront, and that would be the challenge. I would always encourage customers to think that upfront,” he said.

Baguley said the mistake was to focus solely on cloud and viewing getting into the cloud as the answer to all the problems.

“The answer is to focus on the applications and the data you have, the applications and data that your business requires, and think about the roadmap and plans forward for those activities,” he said.

“What apps do we need in the future? What data do we need in the future? Where does that data need to be? What does it need to be processed? Where do the results need to be read? Work out what the roadmap is to your applications will then drive the requirements that will, in most cases, push you towards cloud and will then enable you to make sure you’re selecting the right cloud and the right cloud services to support the activity you’re driving,” Baguley concluded.

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