One direction

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17 June 2014 | 0

Cullen warns that if partners are not trying to build to provide services for a cloud-based model it could “become more difficult to survive over the next 24 to 36 months. Over the last number of years, people have talked about survival purely from an economic point of view. The question now is about value to the customer. If you’re still trying to propose what you were proposing before, you’re going to struggle. Consider the volume of cloud services that are being sold now, it’s seismically different. Cloud Office will be astronomical, it’s almost incomprehensible when you look at how it’s growing.”

Karen O’Connor, general manager service delivery at Datapac is similarly optimistic about the service market’s upward trajectory.

“2014 is proving to be the Year of the Cloud,” O’Connor states. And the cloud is driving the services agenda for the channel as Irish businesses look to local service providers to help them manage the increasing volume of data, technologies and applications being hosted in the cloud.

She identifies a number of “major triggers” that are forcing organisations to review their software licensing policies, pointing to the recent end of life of Windows XP and Windows 2003, and the discontinuation of Windows Server 2003 next year. “This is increasing the take-up of cloud services like Office 365, rather than businesses choosing to upgrade their current on-premise solutions,” O’Connor observes.

The move to Office 365 “is proving to be an enabler for organisations considering other cloud services. Whether its communications, business applications, security or ERP; there’s a huge array of services that can now be delivered through the cloud.”

In 2013, O’Connor highlighted disaster recovery and managed security as strong service growth areas. This year, she describes disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) as a major development, which is becoming more popular among Irish companies that have invested in on-premises solutions for their ICT services. “Mature solutions are emerging which expedite the replication of ICT services in a simplified manner to the cloud,” she says. “This all needs to be managed by a partner with accredited skills and experience.”

O’Connor believes managed security is “another significant opportunity for the channel” as cybercrime continues to increase. Irish businesses need to have unified ICT security strategies in place in the face of so many security threats. “This is best achieved using the expertise of the security vendor and a local channel partner that understands the customer’s specific needs,” she states.

“Whether its communications, business applications, security or ERP; there’s a huge array of services that can now be delivered through the cloud” – Karen O’Connor, Datapac

O’Connor says security vendor Sophos is providing a good example of this by integrating its endpoint technology, server protection and network security products to provide visibility and control through a single, cloud-based security management console. “Channel partners, like Datapac, are then being encouraged and enabled to support this new cloud-based service,” she remarks.

Gareth Madden, sales director, MJ Flood, is in complete agreement with O’Connor about the effects of the cloud. “Cloud is where the service model has gone,” he states. His comments shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise given MJ Flood’s enthusiasm for the cloud model and its work with Office 365 for O2. As managing director James Finglas told us last year: “We adopted cloud services very early and got ourselves into a very good position for supporting those services.”

Finglas was also keen to stress that although the reseller community had initially viewed cloud as a threat, it didn’t have to be because “it still needs a trusted adviser to provide local support and a managed service that customers will want. There’s a good a mix of services with cloud-based services as there would be in traditional managed services”.

At the time, he singled out the move towards mobility and how it is harnessed within a business as being particularly significant for the growth in cloud services. Madden says that view has been borne out by the growing emphasis on managed tablet within customer organisations. He argues that IT departments had been “scared of” the idea of people attaching their personal tablets to the company network but it was something they had to come to terms with. They seem to have done this by disassociating themselves from it entirely and putting the work out to managed services partners like MJ Flood who have the relevant expertise.

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