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It may be something of an old saying now, but giving customers what they want still seems like a pretty good idea. While customers know their desired business outcomes – more sales, happier customers and so on – they often do not know how technology can help them achieve those goals. When it comes to cloud computing, this is amplified, as the cloud can be a confusing market to navigate. That’s why, for partners, this is a big opportunity to differentiate.
The problem that most customers face is complexity, not just in terms of understanding and then managing different types of cloud-based infrastructure but also licenses and costs. The Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Survey recently found that 86% of organisations agree that moving applications can be complex and costly. What this means for resellers is opportunity, not just in designing and implementing cloud strategies but also in services.
As Peter Bryant, research analyst at Canalys said recently, “cloud environments are becoming ever more complex and this presents new opportunities for partners that can shift beyond the traditional resell model and move to provide a breadth of services to their customers.”
Justification for this thinking is clear, as demand for computing power, data agility and scalability are being driven by modern applications and working patterns. Interest in generative AI-driven applications will only intensify this demand.
According to Gartner, spending on public cloud services in particular is going to surge over the next 12 months. Gartner predicts that by 2026, “75% of organisations will adopt a digital transformation model predicated on cloud as the fundamental underlying platform.”
The confusion though is around the hybrid mix. With sensitive data and increasing data sovereignty requirements, how do organisations structure multiple clouds, using public and on-prem or colocation sites to get the best of all worlds? The challenge for resellers is to help customers by delivering hybrid multicloud capabilities without increasing complexity and costs.
I’ve talked about it before, but as customers look for help in achieving outcomes faster and delivering savings, resellers are well-positioned to respond to this, but they need to embrace the four key phases of cloud adoption. These are as follows:
The key role of any partner is in helping customers navigate the complexity of cloud, reduce costs where possible and deliver an infrastructure and range of services that fit the business goals. In this discovery phase, it’s about understanding specific customer needs, in terms of data availability and management, as well as budget.
If customers are already using the public cloud, to what extent is it meeting the needs of the business and how can a hybrid environment enhance agility, security and cost-effectiveness? Understanding where customers are and where they want to be will enable partners to design a structure that works, focusing on agility and even using FinOps to help manage costs.
How easy is it for customers to shift workloads between cloud providers? The problem many customers face when it comes to moving to the cloud is understanding application dependencies and then reworking applications so they are cloud-ready. Partners have an opportunity here, with Nutanix at least, to reduce time-to-value through enabling a smoother migration for customers.
There is also an opportunity in helping customers manage their migration to cloud providers, in terms of taking advantage of cloud vendors’ incentives. Customers often have a commitment with cloud vendors and within agreements there can be incentives. For example, if the customer gets more workloads in the cloud than expected, then the public cloud provider will provide free credits, which in an enterprise is worth millions in added value. A partner that is able to help a customer take advantage of this delivers huge amounts of value and can often win more customer contracts as a result.
This is also where partners can look to add additional services, designing and managing migrations for customers through software tools that optimise workloads across multicloud, hybrid environments. Relying on hardware margins alone is no longer an option. As Canalys says, resellers typically receive resell margins of only 2% to 10% from the cloud hyperscalers.
The on-going management of complex cloud environments is key to repeat income for partners. Certainly, helping customers understand the array of billing options and charges will go a long way to adding value to any relationship. Each cloud provider charges differently and this can be confusing for customers consuming from multiple cloud environments. Customers running workloads in hybrid multiclouds will look to partners for managed services that help with billing and ensure uptime, as well as agility and scalability, delivering data to people and assets where it is needed most.
As customer needs change, workloads may change but a well-designed and managed environment will enable this agility without escalating costs to customers. Whether partners look to sell outcomes to customers on retention fees, or whether partners are more interested in a traditional service relationship, the key is to structure each customer project with tools that enable one view of multiple clouds, workloads and costs.
Unlocking the full potential of a customers’ cloud structures is an on-going service. Partners can make recommendations on workload placement based on performance or economics, essentially offering FinOps as a service.
Ensuring cost-effectiveness, any optimisation should also consider any additional integration of applications, as well as training and analytics. The ability to enhance hybrid multicloud environments through continual assessment is key to the success of customer relationships.
Ultimately, hybrid multicloud cloud is a great opportunity for partners to re-cement relationships with customers by simplifying workload management. Customers can get the best of all cloud worlds, but they need partners to make it happen, to help accelerate cloud adoption in a way that removes complexity and cost.