Some channel organisations will be fretting about the challenge that the growing use of cloud computing means for their business. For others, cloud is just another way to deliver IT; same thing, another day. A dealer that has survived in the past from the margins on selling hardware and software is going to have to adapt as, over time, much of that business will disappear altogether. However, the customers of VARs (which make most of their profit from services) still face the same challenges: making IT work for their business.
In fact, for VARs and other IT service providers that do get their ducks inline, cloud actually presents a series of new opportunities and it can also free up budget to fund this. To understand the reason for this means taking a look at the early adopters of cloud services, understanding their motivations and realising that all organisations will become cloud users eventually, whether they like it or not.
A 2013 Quocirca research report, “The adoption of cloud based services”, surveyed mid-sized businesses and enterprises across Europe, including the UK. The research asked the respondents to characterise their organisation with regard to its view on cloud computing (Figure 1). Five options were given; with “enthusiasts” at one end and “avoiders” at the other (if a tiny number of “blockers” is ignored). About 20–25% fell into these two groups with the rest somewhere in the middle.
What was most interesting is that, generally speaking, both groups held the same views with regard to concerns about cloud, especially when it came to security. One might expect that the enthusiasts would have put such concerns behind them whilst the avoiders remained paranoid—not so. The real difference is that the avoiders worry they lack the skills and resources to use cloud securely, whilst this is considerably less so with enthusiasts (Figure 2).
It is absolutely clear from the research that enthusiasts are investing in IT security to enable their use of cloud. They are far more likely to recognise the need for identity and access management (IAM), content filtering and data loss prevention tools than the avoiders (Figure 3). 97% of enthusiasts have invested in IAM compared to just 27% avoiders.
Furthermore, the enthusiasts spend a higher proportion of their overall IT budget on security than avoiders. This is for two reasons; as Figure 2 suggests, they are actually buying more security to enable cloud use, but doing so reduces top-line IT costs, so the security spending deemed necessary to achieve this rises proportionately.
So there lies the opportunity for VARs and IT service providers. Many will already be involved in helping the enthusiasts on their way to cloud nirvana. However, to remain competitive, many avoiders will have to overcome their reticence and turn to cloud to get access to enterprise grade infrastructure at lower costs than they could ever afford in-house; they too will have to invest in security tools and the services to get it all working.
Those organisations that think they can hold out, including those head-in-the-sand blockers, are living in cloud cuckoo land. Where IT leaders fear to tread, their lines of business and end users will go anyway, engaging direct with the suppliers of cloud services. All organisations will have to upgrade their security to ensure all use of cloud services is safe sooner or later. If the door is not already open, resellers need to lean against it push hard and let in the fresh-air of reality.
 - The adoption of cloud-based services, July 2013