E-Handbook:

Multi-cloud strategy: The next frontier for IT channel partners

BACKGROUND IMAGE: traffic_analyzer/iStock

Multi-cloud produces next wave of business for the channel

For cloud consultants and technologists, the next round opportunity is coalescing around multi-cloud strategy and deployment.

Figuring out how to conduct channel business in the cloud and migrating clients to various on-demand services were the initial stages of the cloud business. And those activities continue to occupy cloud solutions providers in a still young and evolving field. Here, the key services include advising clients on the best cloud option for a given IT workload, looking for applications ripe for the cloud shift and then executing a migration plan. There's also plenty of work to be done regarding managing customers' public cloud usage and providing private cloud services.

The new wave of business involves getting a customer's growing cloud instances to work efficiently. A RightScale study published earlier this year found 85% of enterprises have a multi-cloud strategy. That typically means a combination of one or more public clouds -- infrastructure as a service and software as a service -- along with private clouds. Add a customer's on-premises legacy IT into the mix, and channel partners have a complex and potentially profitable challenge to address.

In the multi-cloud deployment environment, channel partners can expect to find opportunities in weighing different cloud options within the customer's portfolio and deciding where a given workload should reside. Linking the various clouds will become another source of business. And making sure the various clouds have some form of central governance to avoid the expense of redundancy and unattended cloud use will likely emerge as an ongoing management opportunity.

Cloud services specialists are already maneuvering to take advantage of the multi-cloud business ahead, building cloud management tools and making strategic acquisitions to diversify their public cloud reach. Partners are already landing multi-cloud business, so channel companies should start taking steps to determine what facets of multi-cloud technology they wish to pursue and develop the appropriate skills.