There’s room for partners of all sizes to play in the cloud sandpit

Posted on 28/04/2021 by charlene

Nick McAlister, Senior Director, EMEA Channel & Partner Go To Market at VMware 

There’s no denying that the last year has been one of change. Change in the short-term but also in how we approach innovation and modernization moving forward. It has forced organisations to press ‘go’ on projects, initiatives and transformation projects earlier than they had perhaps intended and they haven’t been able to take their finger off that button.  

A big part of this jump forwards has been a greater awareness of the need to modernise application portfolios, to deliver the experiences both employees and customers expect, and to reap the productivity and financial rewards on offer.   

Making this jump, and making it successfully, relies on the cloud. As Julie Sweet, chief executive officer at Accenture so succinctly put it: “Cloud is the single most powerful tool for mastering change.” 

But here’s the challenge – there isn’t just one, monolithic cloud out there. With differing regulatory and data requirements across the many market sectors and regions, managing the route to the cloud gets trickier. The reality is, not all public clouds play nicely together so partners need to find opportunities to navigate that route for their customers. 

It starts by acknowledging that all businesses really care about is how to achieve a critical business goal through the speedy development and access to the app itself. In today’s multi-cloud existence that means figuring out how to manage cloud complexity. 

Thankfully, there is a solution and that is partners. While some large businesses choose to go it alone and run in-house teams responsible for running their clouds, many others rely on partners who have the specialist cloud, and/or international nation data sovereignty or regulatory knowledge that is vital to the ultimate success of an organisation’s cloud consumption and use.  

Lir Shif, CTO of Israel-based partner TeraSky explains the strength of this relationship perfectly: “Partners can help businesses bring new initiatives to market faster, often being the first in their industries to offer the services customers need.” 

There is one question though that the success of partnership in a multi-cloud world hinges on and that is – in an increasingly global cloud market, dominated by public cloud hyperscalers, can all cloud partners play in the same cloud sandpit? 

Complexity vs control 

Over the next three years, IT leaders expect the number of different cloud environments, private, public and edge, they use to manage, build, and run applications to increase by 55% (rising from 5.6 today to 8.3 in 2023).1 That means more cloud and more complexity. 

For many, that complexity is born out of years of IT service management supporting a business in constant transition. Most organisations have now gained some control on cloud by providing a catalogue of ‘approved cloud services’ to their business. But they have, in-effect, inadvertently put the brakes on the potential for what cloud can truly offer.  

Partners and specialists in cloud solutions and services are the experts in their areas and have become the backbone to deliver the services customers want and need, helping them manage the complexity and value cloud can bring. They are also best placed to help them navigate the differing geopolitical, data sovereignty laws, manage the business cost, and help select the clouds and cloud mix required for app modernisation.  

Providing choice through partnership  

In the last few years, partners have developed strategies to engage with other partners to complement their portfolios for the benefit of their customers.   

Together, they deliver huge benefits, offering customers choice where they had none; the ability to run their clouds on one, unified cloud platform with consistency of management; provide advice on the optimal clouds to run and move workloads; and provide the right path to migrate datasets to SaaS or PaaS solutions, and so on. Many cloud partners have also formed areas of excellence in, for example, data management, big data, AI or vertical industry specialists.   

It is this ‘choice’ that has become critical in the cloud mix.  Having the freedom to select a cloud, for example, that has data legislative controls in place, has compliance and can tell you where your workload is running, which may or may not be a hyperscale endpoint. 

As Hoegen Dijkhof, Vice President for the Software Defined Data Center at ITQ says: “Technology at all levels is becoming more important for our customers,” says. “This leads to a lot of choices, and many of our customers are looking for assistance in making the right ones.” 

But this is also where clouds don’t always play nicely, with challenges in migrating workloads or the reversibility of workloads, without refactoring or re-platforming, for example. 

Why everyone should be able to play in the ‘cloud sandpit’  

That is why we vehemently believe that having one cloud platform, able to run workloads in and out of any public cloud running the same platform, without requiring any refactoring, and all with the same consistency – of operations, security and management – is at the heart of an ideal multi-cloud infrastructure – and a partner’s toolkit.  

It provides choice. Choice for partners to select all the right clouds to run an organisation’s workloads, and choice for the customer. One truly universal ‘cloud sandpit’ where all partners can play and help realise its full potential for customers. 

If, like so many others, you’re looking at where you can take advantage of multi-cloud this year, I urge you to consider the wealth of expertise a strong partner ecosystem can bring. Forget less is more. When it comes to the cloud and partners, more is always more. As long as they share one common cloud platform.  

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