Reseller ME explores how channel partners can optimise the prospects present in selling cloud storage solutions.
Cloud technologies are significantly changing the way businesses operate. More and more organisations are seeing its varied benefits and are implementing it to improve efficiencies. As the volume of data is expected to reach staggering figures, increasing number of businesses are seriously looking to cloud for storage options.
While the adoption of cloud has progressed considerably, customers are seeking partners who they can trust and depend on in this journey. The market potential for channel partners is unquestionable, says Zaeem Ahmed, cloud business head, AlJammaz Cloud.
“Historically the Middle East and Africa is a promising market for cloud services,” he explains. “Together with Africa, it’s worth $2.2 billion to vendors as of 2018 and that’s projected to grow to $9 billion by 2022 as per IDC. Meanwhile global cloud storage market size is expected to grow from $23.48 billion in 2016 to $88.91 billion by 2022, at a CAGR of 23.7 percent during the forecast period; with the region contributing for 2 percent only.”
One of the main factors that is driving the technology’s growth is its scalability.
Ahmed adds, “The Middle East region has witnessed increasing data due to digitisation initiatives of private and public sector customers resulting in exponential data growth in cloud storage coming from secondary workloads. Particularly, large data sets that require longer term storage and archiving at better pricing.”
Customers are rapidly realising that by storing data in the cloud, they are able to get better total cost of ownership, gain capital savings and reduce operating cost, according to Aamir Shaikh, cloud sales associate, Channel and Alliances, VAD Technologies.
“Apart from data archiving, backup and recovery, next generation applications and solutions will leverage an API enabled architecture approach by pushing the data straight to cloud from endpoints and devices. This will accelerate the delivery of a cheaper and better alternative to on-premise expensive storage solutions,” he explains.
Shaikh believes that regional small and medium enterprises are more inclined towards leveraging public cloud storage for further driving growth.
“These firms tend to spend more with cloud storage solutions available today from Onedrive, Google Drive, Dropbox and other local MSPs’ offerings, by overriding the spending on private storage infrastructure. The growth is attributed to increasing investments by local MSPs in data centres and service offerings.”
Shaikh further says that top five industries such as hospitality, education, ICT and retail sectors account for more than 40 percent of the total market contributors in cloud storage adaption.
“By far the largest percentage of cloud storage data types is secondary or long-term data storage,” says Ahmed from AlJammaz. “Backup is a major cloud storage use case for all type of workloads. Many businesses migrate on-premises to cloud backup. Customers today are using a traditional backup application that retains backup on a backup server, tape, or a backup appliance for certain time and then migrate this data to cloud storage.”
While the market opportunity is real, partners often face challenges to build the right set of cloud storage offerings for customers. Lack of skillsets coupled with inadequate training contribute to this challenge. Partners must understand the technology thoroughly to be able to create relevant solutions for customers.
Ahmed says, “The primary challenge for partners is how to build a scalable, billable option for customers by providing them with managed cloud storage service at a completive cost considering fierce competition from major players such as pCloud, BooleBox, Onedrive and Dropbox.”
An area where he sees immense potential for channel partners to further leverage the cloud storage market is by “minimising the complexity of managing cloud backup and restore” for their customers.
“Profitability can be achieved by building robust MSP model, hosted on a multitenant cloud backup and recovery solutions.”
According to Shaikh, another big challenge, especially here in the Middle East region, is clarity on data security and governance.
“Common customer perception is that MSPs and CSPs can access and see their data, being cloud storage providers. How to answer questions around data governance and data security is a challenge partners face when positioning cloud storage solutions.”
One of the other major challenges is the connectivity cost of cloud storage.
“Majority of existing MSPs and CSPs have to factor in the cost of bandwidth and usually charge customers for ingress bandwidth. Cost of connectivity and bandwidth utilisation is still expensive in the Middle East market. The utilisation of cloud storage can incur higher cost for frequently accessed data or hot storage.”
Shaikh says that channel partners can optimise and build a solid go-to-market approach by offering hybrid cloud storage options to increase their profitability and margins.
He also predicts that over the next couple of years, the region will relax the security and compliance that is required today for data, which is the prime barrier for cloud storage implementation across large verticals such as government and financial institutions.
“This will enable the true spirit of cloud storage to flourish in the region,” he adds.
“The Middle East region is evolving at a rapid pace and the cloud storage market is picking up momentum faster than any other cloud service,” says Ahmed. “But it is still far from being a mature market. This growth is accelerated by various factors such as increasing demand for low cost data storage, backup, and data protection. This augments the growth of the cloud storage market within small, medium, and large enterprises.”
Also, he adds, “Several industry verticals such as BFSI, education, healthcare, retail and public sector boasting large customer base tend to explore cost-effective solutions to store active and passive data, as they build more robust strategy to digitise their business experiences.”
Regional channel partners have a big opportunity in this space, one that they can truly optimise by ensuring they are well-versed with the technology, are in a position to suggest the most ideal solution for a customer’s problem and are continuously updating themselves with the latest developments in the market.
Staying profitable and sustaining it long-term is definitely a challenge in the channel space. Partners should alter their outlook and view the hurdles they face as new areas of opportunities and select the right partner to grow with.