The Critical Role of Channel in Driving Cloud Adoption


Cloud remains a core topic at the heart of the IT industry. Research on end user attitudes shows substantial interest and commitment, significant levels of adoption and satisfaction and an expectation of further new and expansive growth over the coming years.

Today, 63 per cent of the IT Channel (for the purpose of this report defined as Managed Service Providers, Systems Integrators and technical VAR’s) in the UK and Ireland claim to offer Cloud-based services for their customers. Over the last 30 months that represents just a 2 percent increase in the number of organisations offering Cloud Services to their customers and most of the Channel is currently focused on selling SaaS as the primary Cloud delivery model, and the most common business model is to offer a blend of own-brand solutions alongside reselling third party solutions.

This report aims to explore the attitudes, market focus and readiness of the UK and Ireland IT Channel, their optimism for growth and the challenges they face in securing that growth. In summary this report touches on 4 inter-related areas:

Customers: Cloud continues to grow on the agenda of the end user and continues to offer long term benefits, however, key barriers remain that the Channel have a vital role to play in over-coming.

Capability: Channel that already offer Cloud Services are hitting a reality check, pushing past the Cloud hype and reframing their expectations whilst also clearly identifying areas for improving their capability.

Confidence: Both from an end user and Channel perspective, confidence remains high in the viability of Cloud as an IT delivery model. However, more needs to be done to establish the credentials and capability of Channel organisations to build trust in the supply chain.

Collaboration: Cloud changes the supply chain from selling IT to delivering a service. This requires data centres, applications, implementation skills, monitoring and management. Often there are multiple parties engaged in the delivery of Cloud Services and Channel are becoming more savvy about building the right partnerships and framing the services to market as an end to end solution backed up by appropriate contracts.

Since the original base of research in 2010, the IT Channel has developed in terms of its expectations of the market, what capabilities it requires, what solutions it offers and the challenges that need to be overcome to drive success. Arguably though, the Channel is, if anything, more cautious than the end users in terms of looking at the predicted pace of growth in the market and this reflects a disconnect or lack of confidence in their approach still. In sections 4 and 5 we look to provide some basic guidance and insights into measures that can help improve clarity of the market opportunity and sales performance.

A core belief of the authors based upon the research, and comparing it with the needs and expectations of the end users, is that the IT Channel is vital to the evolution and growth of the Cloud Services market in the UK and Ireland. Whether in educating the market on the opportunity that Cloud represents, managing the transition to the Cloud and/or delivering the on-going solutions, the Channel remains a key influencer, and provides the critical path to Cloud adoption.

However, the impact of offering Cloud Services to the market does have a dramatic impact across the whole Channel organisation though, and clarity of awareness and a realistic approach to adopting Cloud within the portfolio is essential to avoid costly mistakes or failed performance. Achieving this is necessary though as most participants signalled confidence in growth of Cloud revenues over the next three years whilst believing more traditional revenue streams will slow.

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