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Mobile Cloud a Tough Transition, Say Microsoft Partners

Edward GatelyMicrosoft partners and others in the channel have their work cut out for them in terms of helping businesses transition to the mobile cloud, according to a new study by harmon.ie.

The company, which offers a single-screen experience for all Microsoft collaboration tools, examined the impact of mobile cloud on Microsoft partners and their customers. More than 190 Microsoft partners, including local and national systems integrators, IT outsourcing services and VARs, shared their take on the current move to mobile cloud.

The study also includes input from the top 25 Office 365 influencers.

David Lavenda, harmon.ie’s vice president of product strategy, tells Channel Partners that, while the study polled Microsoft partners, it speaks to all of the channel.

harmon.ie's David Lavenda“Others in the channel need to take heed that their business is changing and that they need to embrace new cloud opportunities, such as helping organizations migrate to the cloud and assisting them with applying cloud technologies to solving specific business problems, rather than just managing infrastructure,” he said. “Furthermore, since the new reality is a multi-vendor world, partners would be wise to expand their offerings and expertise to additional, popular cloud services from other vendors.”

Some 97 percent of respondents expect clients’ use of Office 365 to increase in the next 12 months, while more than half think it will grow from 30 percent to more than 50 percent. Cost savings is the primary driver for cloud adoption, with nearly 68 percent of partners citing capital-expenditure reduction as a major driver for businesses.

Most organizations have adopted cloud email, but are not yet ready to move beyond individual productivity tools to more comprehensive, integrated cloud collaboration environments, according to the report.

“With all the investment in document and social tools that Microsoft has made, it is surprising that companies are still mostly on-premises with these offerings and are mainly taking advantage of cost savings related to email storage and management,” Lavenda said. “Migration to the other tools will come, but it’s taking longer than we would have expected.”

Also, partners said 72 percent of their customers currently use SharePoint on premises or as a hybrid. Some 47 percent of respondents cited hybrid integration services as an area for potential revenue growth.

“We are at a tipping point …

… as an industry,” said Yaacov Cohen, harmon.ie’s CEO. “There is no doubt that businesses are moving to Microsoft Office 365, but on-premises is certainly not going away. Although the mobile-first, cloud-first era is still in its infancy, now is the time for partners to craft services and solutions to ease their customers’ migration concerns while driving immediate business agility and capital expenditure savings.”

Security remains an obstacle to customer adoption, according to the report. Top concerns range from privacy and security in multi-tenancy environments to control over IT infrastructure.

Partners cite consulting services (72 percent), hybrid integration (47 percent) and cloud management (41 percent) as the top three services with the biggest immediate revenue potential. However, no single service is expected to drive more than a quarter of revenue in 2015 and 2016.

More than 60 percent of partners are developing expertise in other business cloud providers for cloud applications outside of Microsoft’s portfolio. Among the most popular cloud applications are enterprise file sync and storage workloads, CRM, and collaboration and customer service.

“Partners need to find their niche in this new world, before organizations get too far down the road with cloud rollouts, or else they risk becoming unnecessary in the new digital workplace,” Lavenda said.


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