If one were to compile a lexicon of the Channel Partners website, few words would be more common than “cloud.” Cloud computing, which has gone from buzzword to one of the most prevalent terms in the industry in recent years, continues to generate studies and predictions from experts.
Here are just a few of the main cloud trends we noticed in 2016. The topics vary from storage to security, just to name a couple of specific uses of the technology. Two of the studies we invoke are by CompTIA, and SkyKick talked exclusively to Channel Partners for this gallery.
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Survey data from Clutch found that SMBs are becoming more comfortable with cloud backup, with about 90 percent calling it on par with or better than onsite backup.
The company noted in a later survey that many SMBs are using free cloud storage that could expose them to security risks. One quarter of the respondents said they use free cloud storage in spite of security warnings; 11 percent were taking care of sensitive banking information, and 14 percent were storing medical records.
Contact centers are taking their operations to the cloud, according to a study by 8×8 and CCNG. The survey found that 53 percent have made at least a partial move to the cloud, and another 20 percent plan on making the transition.
Channel partners should note that the two biggest concerns for companies implementing cloud-based contact centers were quality of service and security.
Read our report on the study.
Multiple 2016 studies indicated that businesses are beginning to slow down and step back into a “refinement” step of cloud. CompTIA’s 2016 Trends in Cloud Computing study found that the amount of companies using cloud in “full production” (that is to say, business-critical) decreased from 42 percent to 33 over the last year.
Read Seth Robinson’s analysis of the study.
Another CompTIA study gave readers pause about the impact of cloud on business.
The research organization reported a 26-point decrease in the amount of channel partners that view the cloud as “extremely positive.” One of the reasons for the decrease is the rise of SaaS solutions that end users may purchase directly without the help of a middleman. The company called the numbers a “reality check” and not necessarily a dismissal of cloud.
Read our recap of the CompTIA State of the Channel report.
The big cloud provider giants – AWS, Azure, IBM Cloud and others – continue to wrestle for dominance, but one major provider is rethinking its strategy.
VMware announced a “cross-cloud” architecture that will provide services, monitoring and management of applications across the aforementioned clouds.
Read CEO Pat Gelsinger’s rationale for the big shift.
SkyKick’s vice president of marketing, Chike Farrell, laid out several 2016 trends and 2017 predictions for cloud computing.
“We saw not only some M&A activity and some other moves from the big players in that space, but we also saw the channel partners now faced with all of this choice,” he told Channel Partners. “Doing a lot more shopping around, trying to find the best deal, trying to find the best platform … to build and evolve their practices.”
SkyKick’s Farrell said partners – both those that were born in the cloud and those that are just now catching on to it – are trying to differentiate themselves amid the massive opportunity.
“We did a study earlier this year called “The State of the SMB Cloud,” and we found that ultimately 7.5 percent of SMBs have already moved to Office 365. So on the one hand, there’s still this massive opportunity that IT partners can go out and get,” he said. “At the same time, seeing many partners out there – some born in the cloud, some awakening to the opportunity in the last year – there’s still this feeling among partners [of], ‘We’re really challenged to figure out the best ways to compete and differentiate in this environment.’”
Farrell noted the “big scale IT providers” that are putting their resources behind cloud in new and expanded ways. Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider program is an example.
“It took a while for some of them to really get going, but now I think we’re going to see this battle for share that crosses lines that they didn’t necessarily traditionally cross,” he said. “The IT partner’s going to have to be able to differentiate themselves not against the other IT partners but also against CDW, for example, or other large scale providers.”
Farrell predicted that partners will push for more standardization around cloud:
“What a lot of partners started telling us is, ‘We see ourselves now needing to standardize and bet on ISVs, and in other cases, the marketplaces and the solution providers that give us what we need to grow and extend our business for the next few years. We’re trying to evolve based on current revenue and other things.’ So they started pushing more to understand the story, to understand the vision, and we expect to see a lot more standardization on platforms.”