Experts discuss how reseller partners can roll out Infrastructure-as-a-Service deployments efficiently.
Regional businesses are increasingly moving to a cloud platform and utilising Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) to make their operations more cost-effective, scalable, mobile and reliable. Research firm Gartner predicts that IaaS YoY growth in the MENA region will be 19 percent by 2019.
Resellers should look at investing in the space today to garner some of that growth in the future. Ahmed Adly, ECEMEA Enterprise Cloud Computing Leader and Senior Director, Oracle, believes the regional resellers have significant opportunities with IaaS solutions to address largely two main customer requirements.
He says, “First, transferring current workloads from customer data centres to IaaS on cloud to achieve tremendous cost saving and enhance business agility. The second is to focus on cloud native projects by helping customers start their new projects completely on cloud with zero upfront capex investment and pure pay-as-you-use model.”
Agreeing with Adly, Anand Lakhwani, Practice Head, Infra Services, Finesse, adds that as today most enterprises are in the process of seriously considering digital transformation, cloud and mobile solutions will become all the more paramount in a firm’s operational strategy.
“Most customers in the region are moving in that direction and regional resellers who are ready with cloud provisioning and can run on OPEX model by providing Software Define Infrastructure(SDI), have tremendous opportunities,” he says. “The SDI solutions can be DC/DR on cloud, MDM, SDN, DR automation, monitoring, and so on. Every customer will host a part of their infra on cloud or mobiles as a part of new initiatives in their respective organisations.”
But when it really comes down to it, there are some challenges that deter resellers from being able to deploy the solutions efficiently.
Serjios El-Hage, CEO, EMW ME, says, “The challenges vary depending on the services and SLAs required. Also, another factor is that the real estate prices to host IaaS can be costly if not fully utilised. Unless the demand is sufficient to offset the cost, it will be very difficult to sustain this model. Additionally, another issue is the frequent refresh of hardware to keep up with the rapidly-advancing software.”
Besides that, Lakhwani adds, other challenges revolve around transformation of the skillset required to deploy these solutions and the integration issues for deployment of specific applications.
“Also, the network bandwidth for the VPN to connect all the users on cloud or mobile could be an initial challenge,” he adds.
According to Adly, generation one of cloud providers who were offering a proprietary platform that required huge migration efforts from partners and customers was the major challenge inhibiting this move.
“It was also worrying partners and customers from being locked in a specific platform that they cannot move out from later. The other challenge was a lack of a true hybrid cloud model that could allow movement of workloads from public to private cloud and vice versa.”
But that being said, vendors are enhancing their IaaS cloud offerings to help partners address these issues.
Going back to Lakhwani’s point of improving the skillset required to deploy these solutions, Adly says, “Train and try. Gaining knowledge should be the first step and in that regard many cloud vendors are organising boot camps and other intensive training sessions for reseller sales, pre-sales and technical teams to help them adapt to the cloud selling model, which is completely different from the traditional on-premise or even private cloud model.
“The next phase is trial. This is where they need to try implementing the model on smaller projects to gain the confidence and momentum before transitioning to bigger projects.”
“The deployment skillset is a crucial learning,” says Lakhwani, “as the customer should be transitioned to the cloud smoothly. Resellers should enhance the skillset by enabling themselves with each and every technical session hosted by their OEM partners.”
While the opportunities do exist in the IaaS space, it is important to note that it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
El-Hage says, “It breaks away from the traditional business models and therefore, unless your staff and customers are ready to adapt, it will be difficult to grow. We’ve seen many entrants into this market but unless you are specialised in multi-vendor deployments with hands-on experience, survival, let alone growth, will not be easy.”
Lakhwani adds, “Players should aim for continued growth by providing additional value through enabling easy migration and deployment, enhanced security and more control or management options for customers.”
With the IaaS market growing organically by 30 percent in the region, Adly says there is no question about the opportunity present for resellers.
“However, they also need to focus on the bundling of cloud services to provide a one-stop-shop facility to the customers. Resellers also need to add value-added services over and above the reselling transaction to help customers adopt faster and move more workloads to the cloud.”
With cloud now being the centre of an enterprise’s growth agenda and spending on IaaS expected to grow in the region, he adds that partners will play a pivotal role.
“Partners are the key catalysts that help customers make this shift with their expertise and utilisation of best practices, enabling the transformation process,” Adly adds.