BOCA RATON, FLA — Renée Bergeron, Ingram Micro’s senior vice president of global cloud channels declared at this year’s Ingram Micro Cloud Summit here, that Infrastructure-as-a-Service (Iaas) is “the largest untapped opportunity for partners today.”
That statement is made all the more stunning by the fact that it’s exactly the same proclamation Bergeron made at last year’s event. It speaks, perhaps, to the size and scale of the IaaS opportunity that it remains underrealized a year later, but it’s still somewhat surprising that it remains so “untapped” — usually when an executive uses a main stage to put the spotlight on an untapped opportunity, it’s because it is both a very large opportunity, and one that’s poised to be acted on.
Bergeron noted that while more than half of cloud revenues worldwide involve an indirect partner today, that figure plummets to somewhere around 15 per cent when talking about IaaS. Still, she said “we are at the inflection point we’ve been talking about” when it comes to IaaS, and that momentum is growing.
That momentum was shown by a panel discussion among three partners the distributor holds up as relatively far along in terms of building IaaS as a business. The panelists — Craig Slack, managing partner of Vancouver-based Blue Silver Shift, Herb Hogue, senior vice president of cloud, security, hybrid data center and collaboration at PCM, and Sam Barhoumeh, founder and CEO of ReadyNetworks — agreed that solution providers wanting to help tap that untapped opportunity have a clear route to tackle the challenge.
“Our most impactful strategy around IaaS has been the discussion starter around disaster recovery,” said Barhoumeh, with other panelists agreeing. “That seems to be the entry point and the least intrusive in terms of shifting from on-prem to cloud.”
Other major tips from those who’ve been there include picking one major IaaS stack and sticking with it. While Hogue and Slack’s organizations may have chosen to go different ways — the former focused on Amazon Web Services, and the latter on Microsoft Azure, both stressed concentrating on one hyper-scale cloud to build out their IaaS offering was key.
“We decide to invest all our eggs in one basket, and that’s been the right decision for us,” Slack said.
Barhoumeh also urged partners to think long-term when it comes to building an IaaS business — urging partners to take a “five year plan” approach to building out IaaS that includes, from day one, the plan for what comes next once they’ve established an IaaS business.
Hogue pointed to development around business intelligence and the Internet of Things as logical offshoots of IaaS businesses — once you’ve consolidated a customer’s infrastructure, you’ve got an opportunity to get more knowledge and insight out of the data in that infrastructure.
“How do I make that relevant to my business rather than just gathering metrics and information?” Hogue said. “We’re seeing huge demand for that.”
For Slack, the next steps involve moving beyond IaaS to Platform-as-a-Service, from which come “the real benefits of cloud,” he said.
“If you just look at your customers as an IaaS-only opportunity, and you do your lift and shift, then just manage it after that, you’re leaving a lot of money on the table,” he advised.
From a Canadian perspective, Ingram Micro Canada cloud director Greg Onoprijenko said he believes that the biggest requirement for partners attacking IaaS — customer demand — is “finally” starting to ramp up, but said “the channel is still relatively new.”
“The business is quite mature in the U.S., although there’s still a lot of work to do, but there are not a lot of channel partners who are focused on that infrastructure opportunity,” Onoprijenko said. “
The “first wave” of IaaS-focused channel partners is starting to appear in the Canadian market, he said, Blue Silver Shift included. Today, that group tends to be “very specialized, very focused on the enterprise.”
But he said he believes that demand will spread into the SMB market, and Ingram will make it a priority to help make sure there are partners ready to meet that new demand.
“Our job is to enable them, to make sure they’re prepared to be successful,” he said. “We’ve got an opportunity to unlock the SMB opportunity and get partners successful there.”