Intermedia Survey: Migrating Email to Cloud Presents Huge Channel Opportunity

While the cloud may feel omnipresent, there still are many business-critical workloads that haven’t made the transition, therefore creating a “tremendous” opportunity for vendors and channel partners.

That’s according to Intermedia’s IaaS Outlook, which was conducted by Researchscape International. The firm surveyed more than 300 U.S. IT managers in midsize organizations (400 to 11,999 employees) that were either using or intending to use Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Intermedia's Eric WeissThe goal of the research was to better understand the migration of applications to IaaS for those in or considering the AWS platform.

Eric Weiss, Intermedia’s senior vice president, tells Channel Partners that 90 percent of respondents expressed interest in moving their email service to a dedicated, single-tenant cloud managed by an expert third party. Email presents a “huge opportunity” for the channel because its move to the cloud has been slower than other business applications, he said.

“In addition … new pricing models are attracting businesses, with 51 percent of respondents preferring to pay for their email services on a per-user, per-month basis,” he said. “Looking across email, file sharing, backup and PBX applications, 90 percent of organizations were interested in having a partner assist with application migration.”

The application most hosted on IaaS today by these firms is ERP, used in the cloud by 44 percent of organizations, according to the survey. This is closely followed by file synchronization and sharing, hosted on IaaS by 40 percent of organizations. The application that is the least commonly hosted in the cloud today is email, at 32 percent.{ad}

Some 6 percent of organizations already are planning to move email to IaaS in 2016 or 2017.

The survey also found that companies are looking to either expand or change their cloud portfolios. Migrating business applications to the cloud and selecting an IaaS provider requires a “deep knowledge of industry tools, and is a time-consuming task,” Weiss said. Channel partners can deliver the guidance and expertise needed to select cloud platforms that are best suited for a business’ specific needs, he said.

“In line with businesses, channel partners need not only to make the leap to the cloud, but also support a range of deployment models — shared multi-tenant or dedicated single-tenant deployments, as well as third-party management on AWS’ infrastructure or the application vendor’s infrastructure,” he said. “Some partners are still rooted in a hardware-centric approach, but this report illustrates that companies are moving more and more workloads to the cloud. It’s up to channel partners to understand what their customers’ needs are, both in the short term and years down the road. All signs are pointing to the cloud, as on-premises hardware and software continue to decline.”

The leading challenge for migrating email to the cloud is security, ranked as the No. 1 challenge by 26 percent of respondents. A distant second is data migration, ranked as the top challenge by 11 percent of respondents. Compliance is ranked third overall, barely edging out the need for greater control than the cloud typically provides.

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