I recently travelled to Miami alongside our Technology Services Director Chris Muscroft to attend Ingram Micro’s Cloud Summit.
Obviously, there were no grumbles about the choice of location, but after the challenges of the last couple of years it was brilliant to once again attend a large-scale physical event with so many likeminded people.
The agenda featured a number of interesting speakers and panels, and with plenty of interesting topics discussed it’s clear that the cloud landscape is shifting rapidly as customer needs and expectations evolve.
Here’s a summary of our main takeaways:
One of many vendors with a significant presence at the event, there was plenty of interesting contribution from Microsoft across all three days. On a selfish note, it was particularly pleasing to learn that Highlander was named as one only 20 UK partners who would now be able to access direct support.
Providing direct support for partners is something Microsoft has moved away from in recent years, so it’s great that we will now be able to call upon Microsoft’s own team for support queries or escalations moving forward. Direct relationships with key vendors are not only a welcome feather in our cap, but help us to further improve the service and experience we deliver for customers. We’ll be among the first to hear of the latest news and developments, and can essentially operate as an early warning system for both our customers and others where any significant developments emerge, with the opportunity to put any questions and objections back to Microsoft directly.
One of the overarching event themes was everything as-a-Service, with this emerging as a major focus for cloud vendors and partners alike. Now well-accustomed to the ‘cloud-like’ flexibility of consumption-based IT models, customers are increasingly looking to embrace this approach across every area of their estate.
This, in part, is driven by a focus on experience over ownership, and the idea that consumption-based models for cloud services, and any supporting managed services, help businesses to achieve better outcomes faster, and enjoy greater levels of agility and flexibility without the need to own, manage or pay for any on-premise infrastructure of their own.
Crucially, these consumption-based models, especially those that extend across multiple cloud services, must have security considerations at the core.
Delivering an enhanced customer experience is fast becoming a priority for IT teams. Where the focus might previously have been on feeds and speeds, IT is now judged against overriding business metrics, seeing more time dedicated to managing, measuring and enhancing performance, rather than technology provision and support.
This is where consumption-based IT and cloud computing is changing the game. Businesses need the agility and flexibility to quickly onboard new services and scale up at speed to meet rapidly-changing customer demands and this approach is helping them to deliver.
With the widespread usage of popular cloud services such as Microsoft 365, as well as public cloud platforms like Microsoft Azure and AWS, businesses are now looking to extend their cloud estates with additional services in areas such as security, backup, and even AI and IoT.
This not only helps to extend the value of existing investments, but also delivers additional functionality and capabilities that may not be available as standard. Even within offerings such as Microsoft 365, there are a number of additional services and functionality that can be switched on and off to help support the needs of a particular customer, all of which increase the size and scale of their environment.
As businesses look to extend their environment with additional services, they are increasingly turning to specialist providers with skills, resources and expertise that go beyond those delivered by generalists.
This not only includes additional solutions in areas such as backup and security, but also partners with specific focuses on cloud infrastructure from the likes of Microsoft Azure and AWS. Ultimately, customers are still looking to achieve a multi-cloud experience, but with the realisation that some of these elements may need to be spread across multiple partners.
Despite the attraction of specialist cloud service providers, consolidated offerings from a single partner continue to have a place. While the provision of services from specialists can extend your capabilities, this creates complexity through additional vendors, billing mechanisms and forethought when managing your cloud estate. Without the right strategy and integration, this complexity can threaten the benefits of cloud, hampering flexibility and ultimately impacting both user and customer experience.
Support from the right partner, one that is able to deliver a consolidated offering across multiple cloud services, remains the best route to unlocking the full potential of cloud. Importantly, this will help you outline and deliver a wider cloud strategy, and achieve the integration needed to deliver enhanced customer experiences.
Wherever you’re at on your cloud journey, our experienced and knowledgeable team is ready to help. As a single partner we can help you outline a diverse cloud strategy, with support from our portfolio of world-class partners that ensures you continue to access specialist services and resource wherever needed.
To learn more about our cloud services, and how we could help your business refine and consolidate your cloud estate, simply get in touch with a member of the team.