Nick McAlister, Senior Director, EMEA Channel & Partner Go To Market, VMware
The last year has been one of ‘survival meeting opportunity’. Opportunity in the sense that consumers have needed and become more accustomed to digitally driven experiences in healthcare, education, retail, even socialising. But it’s one that has forced businesses to do things that they didn’t think they could do before, and many have embraced it in order to survive, and, of course, thrive way into the future.
The momentum created by this opportunity won’t be slowing down and digital economies will continue to develop at pace. While many businesses have stepped out of their comfort zones and done so successfully, maintaining that success relies on having the right app modernisation and cloud strategies in place.
Sounds simple enough? In fact, finding the right strategy that delivers on customers’ expectations, and that is the right fit for the business is easier said than done, which is why we are seeing businesses turn to outside expertise for help. Partners are stepping in as strategic advisors with the expertise to not only deliver the technology but the strategic value to the business.
As Gavin Jolliffe, CEO of Xtravirt, a leading VMware Cloud Consulting and Managed Services Partner, articulated in a recent panel event VMware hosted, “the role that [partners] are playing a lot more is answering the question of “how do I get from A to B?”. We guide customers in that process because the ability to do it yourself is becoming more and more challenging”.
We discussed these challenges and the increasing role of partners providing customer value through the cloud in a recent panel discussion with Gavin from Xtravirt, Louise Ostrom from Accenture VMware Business Group, Salvatore Cassara from SGB Smit, a German manufacturer of power transformers, Sylvain Rouri from OVHcloud and our CTO in EMEA, Joe Baguley. We had also had lots of other partner and customer voices contributing to the discussion. From this sea of great perspectives, I wanted to offer up my four key takeaways that I believe anyone looking to build upon or start creating strong, successful app modernisation and cloud strategies should strongly consider.
1. Cloud isn’t the starting point
This is where many businesses are going wrong. As Ruurd Keizer, VP Cloud Native, ITQ puts it “Finding the right approach has to start with answering one question – why are you even adopting cloud in the first place?“
When an organisation is starting or expanding its cloud journey, it needs to do so with a focus on the applications and the data that those applications use, and how cloud can support this. The key is working out what the roadmap is for your application and that will drive the requirement for cloud and will enable you to select the right cloud for the activities that you are driving.
Unfortunately, this process is where many organisations fall down. Organisations need that third-party view that partners provide to show them: an un-biased view of their challenge and how to meet it; the importance of tracking more than one set of requirements and to target measurable KPIs; to look at when and what you are going to get back from investing in cloud.
2. Businesses are struggling to hire skills, so they’re turning to partners
This is something my colleague Hervé Renault, Vice President Cloud, EMEA, has a great perspective on. He believes that when thinking about cloud, the real question is “how can I help my customers gain an advantage?”.
The answer is of course that yes, you can, BUT only if you have the right skills available. It may come as no surprise to learn that there is a global supply gap for the skills that are required to manage multi-cloud environments within business. A big reason for that is, just as the way we use cloud has changed, so too have the skills required to deploy it successfully and we are seeing more convergence of traditional roles.
How then are organisations going to move to cloud if they don’t have the skills? As Herve concludes, increasingly, and very sensibly, “they are turning to the channel and to partners to fill that skills gap.”
This is creating a three-fold opportunity for partners. They can:
- Position themselves as an extension of an organisation’s own team
- Look for gaps in specialisms to either fill or develop expertise in
- Or if they want to just stick to their area of excellence then there is the opportunity to engage with other partners to complement their services and offer a one-stop-shop ecosystem of all the skills needed for cloud.
3. Partners are ideally placed to advise how far into cloud customers need to go
While cloud should not be the starting point, it’s certainly tempting, particularly after the last year where speed was of the essence, for customers to feel the pressure to adopt cloud and jump in head-first.
This is especially true with the advent of multi-cloud, which has opened new possibilities to better streamline and manage complex cloud portfolios.
While these benefits are real, a successful multi-cloud strategy still relies on good upfront planning. As many of our customers have experienced and partners have witnessed, the headfirst approach more often than not results in failure. Whether its multi-cloud or not, a more considered approach must be taken.
That’s why those partners that have established themselves as strategic advisors to customers are asking their customers ‘why’?
- Why is it that you want to rush into the cloud?
- What is it you expect to get out of it?
- Is it just cost savings?
- Is it to support app development? And if that’s the case, which cloud will be perfect for you?
As Sam Mudd, Managing Director, Phoenix Software summarises: “It’s a considered approach that will ultimately be the most successful.”
4. Staying in control whilst delivering value means staying on top of data
Stephen Woodhouse, Head of Platform Engineering at IHS Markit, a global research and analysis company, recently captured the challenge customers are facing when looking at how to manage their data, saying: “As an information company, we have a lot of data. Being able to consume IT as a service on an operational basis is absolutely essential for us in reducing our costs and remaining competitive in the marketplace.”
IHS Markit is the perfect example of the opportunity open to partners to help organisations meet this challenge, particularly those early adopters of cloud that are now realising that they need a better grasp of how to use the data that they have and where there are restraints for that use.
This is where partners can really bring their expertise the table, giving un-biased view of data, where to store it and how to use it to support the organisation’s strategy. They can also advise companies on how to ensure that they are able to pull their data back from the cloud as and when required should circumstances change.
Remember that, ultimately, the value of data lies in its ability to be used. If it’s not easily available or over-protected, then it loses its value. Cloud fuels the ability to deliver value out of data.
All four of these key takeaways really have one key message – if you’re in the mindset of “we’ve got to go to cloud”, pause. It’s easy to make that decision, it’s quite another to make sure it’s the right decision. The panel discussion highlighted the complexities associated with successful cloud adoption, but it also highlighted why the support of partners is crucial to getting it right.
For more information about the power that partners can play in your cloud journey and why the partner ecosystem that is so important to VMware, why not replay some of the key events from our recent EMPOWER Online Europe event that took place last week.