The coronavirus has sparked a surge in home working and an increased focus on remote learning but, by and large, the cloud has supported those changes.
The financial results from the big public cloud providers have illustrated what that shift has looked like over the past year and those in the channel that have chosen to specialise and back those horses have also benefited.
Walter Heck, recently promoted group CTO at AWS premier consulting partner HeleCloud, saw the world stop last March and then gradually get the momentum coming back.
“By October we were back on our normal levels and October, November, December were all record months for us in our entire existence,” he said.
Some customers accelerated their cloud plans but others, depending on the vertical market, largely put the brakes on during the pandemic, he added.
“Corona was a wake-up call,” said Heck. “People started working from home, and that’s when companies started realising ‘hey, we thought we had everything together for a fully remote workforce’, but actually it turns out that we have some gaps here and there and some are more significant gaps than others.”
Questions are being asked across the industry about just what will happen as life returns to a more normal footing. Heck is in the camp that believes the genie is out of the bottle and investments in cloud and hybrid working will continue.
“I think it will actually accelerate, because a huge thing changed in the boardroom,” he said. “Where you used to say ‘I think we should do this because we need to move with the times’, they would say, ‘Why? What we have now is working’. Now, all of a sudden, things like fully remote workforces are a thing.”
Some companies have been forcing their staff to use technologies for remote working that are showing the strain and, as a result, will review their approach.
For those looking to get the most out of selling the cloud, Heck’s advice is to appreciate the subtle difference between reselling and partnering.
“The key differentiator for us, HeleCloud as an AWS partner, is really in providing value and making sense out of the huge complicated set of capabilities that you get with AWS,” he said. “Our customers are asking us, what is the best way to move this much data from this place to this other place, or what is the best way to use machine learning for this particular problem – and that’s where we provide added value.”
The other point is around the current situation, with it clearly being the moment for cloud and the right time for the channel to have a strategic conversation with customers.
Heck added: “I was sitting in a presentation by our head of sales the other day, and he was saying something that really stuck with me. He said: ‘In your career as a salesperson, you will have maybe one or two moments when you are absolutely in the right place at the right time, and everything is in your favour. And this is one of those moments.’
“Of course he said it to motivate the sales team, but I also think he’s super right that there has not been a better moment for public cloud than right now.”