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If anyone was in any doubt that multi-cloud was heading for the mainstream, a recent study by 451 Research will have quashed it. Of the 800 businesses across the globe that responded to the latest Voice of the enterprise: Cloud, hosting and managed services, budgets and outlook survey, 69% said they planned to adopt a multi-cloud strategy by 2019.
What’s more, the cloud computing-as-a-service market is expected to double to $53.3bn by 2021, according to 451’s Market Monitor. So it’s no surprise that the number of vendors and technologies in the space are growing rapidly.
The good news for businesses is that this presents the chance to mix and match cloud services to maximise effectiveness, efficiency and costs. However, this may seem like a new and complex market, which means it can be a tough challenge navigating your way through it.
And therein lies a major opportunity for resellers: to help companies make sense of multi-cloud and secure the best solution for their needs. The question is whether resellers themselves are up for the challenge.
The right mix
As a reseller, it’s vital to offer the best possible service to the user. From a multi-cloud perspective, that means delivering vendor diversity to help companies reduce risk, save costs and maximise performance.
The right mix of suppliers, for example, can ensure that critical systems are running 100% of the time and reduce the risk of a business being hit by either a breakdown in a vendor relationship or a company going under.
Furthermore, while the hyperscalers do have similar base service offerings, they have also developed unique capabilities and services that solve very specific problems. Plus, despite these vendors taking a big piece of the multi-cloud pie, there are a growing number of rising stars now adding to the mix. This makes it critical for users to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each player and the most appropriate applications.
Broadening the spread of vendors also makes good commercial sense as it will help to increase competition in the marketplace, driving down prices while pushing up quality and choice.
Resellers can help businesses to be vendor diverse in five key ways:
- Provide key knowledge and being authoritative: This means staying up to date with accreditations, plus taking advantage of training courses and education sessions.
- Be neutral: Give clients what they need, not what you want to sell them. This demands being vendor agnostic, understanding the client requirements, working with relevant partners and being open about the pros and cons.
- Understand the market: Dedicate time and effort to getting to know the commercial landscape thoroughly, so you can deliver the optimum vendor mix.
- Offer a single point of contact: Simplify and personalise the client relationship by designating a single member of the team to oversee everything from billing to vendor management, who can also translate any industry jargon into plain English.
- Simplify the process: Work with the right partners and utilise best-of-breed tools to make the discovery, planning, sourcing, and execution involved with implementing cloud strategies simple.
Adjust your approach
Multi-cloud presents resellers with a clear opportunity to differentiate themselves in a crowded channel market if they are prepared to adjust their approach where necessary, as outlined above, and build key partner relationships.
Legacy resellers continue to struggle, partly because of the pace of change, but also due to continued demand from management and investors to chase perpetual licensing and infrastructure business. But to make the most of the multi-cloud future, it’s critical for resellers to be transparent and neutral, and not to bow to the pressure to optimise margins and push certain suppliers or partners.
It will also be important to manage partnerships carefully and effectively with multiple cloud service providers, which will be a big challenge. This is where a partner with existing cross-vendor relationships and products that run across multiple cloud offerings can prove invaluable.
Finally, resellers should strongly consider specialisation by searching out a key multi-cloud niche vertical market to make their own. Rather than simply claiming to be a “cloud specialist” like the majority of other resellers, make it easy for the end client to differentiate you from the crowd that offer “vanilla” services which are simply resold or provided wholesale. If you have a vertical focus, look at building out a proposition specific to that market. This also helps many vendors, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), which has a strong focus on key verticals, particularly life sciences and, more recently, finance.
Once you’ve identified your niche, compile strong relevant case studies to show your expertise and put together a marketing strategy, incorporating your vendors and partners where you can to strengthen your offer and add value to your relationship.
Making the most of multi-cloud will not be without its challenges to resellers, but if you can meet the growing demands of business for vendor diversity and find the right niche, the long-term rewards will be well worth the effort.
• Chris Roberts is partner and alliances manager EMEA at Megaport.