2013: The Sky is Clear for Cloud Partners

Managed service providers (MSPs) and cloud-focused channel partners for the small and medium-sized business space have seen average cloud service revenues increasing by a healthy 12 percent in 2012, according to Access Markets International (AMI)—a trend that is only going to roll on in 2013.

“Working with the successful cloud partners/MSPs has become a key issue for all ICT vendors, whether they are looking for partners to use their infrastructure or take their new cloud and managed services to market,” said Hugh Gibbs, vice president of research and consulting at AMI EMEA. “Local partners still hold the key to the vitally important SMB sector.”

There have been a number of key developments during 2012 in the cloud ecosystem, he said. For instance, there have been significant proportions of players now at the “migration” stage of cloud transformation, investing strongly in their own software-as-a-service (SaaS) and managed service solutions. AMI estimates that close to 40 percent of the population is at this stage, up from 15 percent in 2011.

“With the increasing uptake and interest in the cloud services model amongst…SMBs, it is now critical for all channel partners to be able to offer managed services and cloud solutions to their customer base,” he added. “How they choose to play is fundamental for future survival. Is it with SaaS or infrastructure or managed services? Do they resell or build their own services?”

Remote managed ICT services are the usual entry point for traditional channel partners to begin their journey to the cloud – more than 80 percent offer these types of services, AMI found. There has also been a significant increase in the numbers of partners using third-party hosting facilities with dedicated hosting companies and ICT vendors being the preferred suppliers.

Top cloud solutions have focused on partner-customized or -owned vertical SaaS solutions. There has also been an increased interest in hosted productivity and collaboration suites as well as data storage and back-up services. Other top cloud solutions are desktop virtualization and hosted security services.

“Most channel partner solution projects now involve integrating important cloud service delivery elements,” Gibbs found. “In addition, cloud consulting and support services continue to contribute the largest proportion of cloud-related revenue with the biggest part of this now being implementation and integration.”

In 2013 AMI expects to see continuing growth in partner cloud services revenue, well-above industry averages. There will be a continuing focus on security-as-a-service, and a new partner focus on more advanced business process applications, like business intelligence and analytics and business process-as-a-service being among the most common new areas. 2013 will also see the emergence of Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) as channel partners look to migrate their customers’ legacy of on-premise solutions.

When it comes to vendors, Gibbs said that Citrix, Dell, Cisco, Salesforce.com, McAfee and EMC will be top IT cloud providers to work with.

“Understanding the state of cloud readiness of their traditional partner communities and being able to identify and attract successful new cloud service pure-plays needs to be on the agenda of all infrastructure and applications vendors,” said Gibbs. “Those that support their partners re-orient their businesses to the cloud in the most committed and imaginative ways will reap the benefits in future.”