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Cloud providers forging partnerships and alliances in Asean region

Asean organisations must understand the ecosystem of channel partners that cloud providers are using if they are to get the best-fitting service

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) organisations need to make choices about how they go about buying cloud services, as the major providers are selling through a broad network of channel partners.

Cloud suppliers targeting Asean businesses are getting their cloud partnering strategies in place because this is the preferred way of buying for most organisations in the region.

For example, in September 2015, Microsoft signed several new partners in Malaysia to support its cloud business, including Maxis, Shinjiru Technology, SoftwareOne, Vads, Crayon Software Experts Malaysia, Ingram Micro Malaysia and Rhipe Malaysia.

More recently, Alibaba Group’s cloud computing arm, Aliyun, announced a partnership with Intel and BGI, a Beijing-based genomics research centre. Together, they have launched what they call Asia’s first cloud platform for precision medicine and its applications.

Meanwhile, datacentre company Equinix and software giant Oracle have announced an agreement to provide dedicated, direct access to Oracle Public Platform and Infrastructure Services via the Equinix Cloud Exchange in six markets worldwide, including Singapore.

These are just a few examples of a broad market trend that underlines how cloud providers are forging partnerships and alliances in Asia, including the Asean region.  

According to IDC analyst Mayur Sahni, cloud has permanently altered the manner in which IT is consumed, delivered, operated and managed. “This once in a lifetime, seismic shift has changed the dynamics of engagement, partnership and alliances in the IT space,” he said.

Consequently, said Sahni, cloud services and technology players are courting partners and peers in different alliance models to accelerate relevance in the market and gain their fair share of the market.

“Local cloud partners enable us to serve local customers better by increasing overall market reach, as well as by developing and delivering new applications and services that provide greater value to customers,” said Vasily Malanin, internet of things (IoT) and advanced analytics product management lead at Microsoft Asia-Pacific (Apac).

“Microsoft recognises the importance of cloud partners and the partner ecosystem as a whole,” he added. “In Asia-Pacific alone, we have invested US$225m to enable the transformation of our ecosystem through the right investments in training, incentives and business enablement.” Today, the company boasts more than 14,000 cloud partners in the Apac region.

Technology company Dell has a similar plan. “Our cloud partnerships, such as with Microsoft, Red Hat and VMware, continue to be an important part of Dell’s approach – globally and here in south-east Asia – to provide customers with a comprehensive cloud offering,” said a company spokesperson. 

Read more about cloud computing in Asean region

Channel engagement plan

Sahni at IDC said that for several cloud suppliers it is the channel engagement plan that will determine which players will succeed and which wont.

“Gaining new cloud partners enables outreach to customers at a scale which no company can address on its own,” he said. “In fact, in January 2015, we highlighted this massive pressure on technology vendors to sort out their channel strategy. This is more so because it is these channel partners that own the last mile of relationship with the customer.”

Sahni added that it’s a battle for ecosystem relevance for some and for a few it’s about ecosystem supremacy.

“Specifically in the Asean region, which has fewer global businesses and more small and mid-market organisations, the channel is the preferred vendor of engagement for businesses and also the favoured go-to-market option for technology vendors. Therefore, they are in a good spot as of now,” he said.

More established suppliers such as Microsoft have legacy partners. But these partners often don’t see value for cloud because legacy business is too good for them or they don’t have the capabilities.

“Observe the Amazon Web Services [AWS] ecosystem of channel partners,” said Sahni. “These partners did not exist five years back and are proactively selling AWS to customers. Therefore, Microsoft and its peers need to have a new ecosystem of partners that are cloud-oriented and have the services capabilities of addressing the new customer requirements.”

No single organisation today can address, or should address, all facets of cloud computing. Rather, the emphasis should be on individual specialities and development of intellectual property across technology, service management, customer support and micro-functional capabilities, according to IDC.

Read more on Information technology (IT) in ASEAN