Last month I was in sunny Barcelona for the annual Canalys channel forum, joining thousands of other IT resellers to hear the latest channel insights, analysis and predictions for 2023 and beyond.
As always, there was plenty of great networking opportunities and thought-provoking conversations, but while the event is primarily channel focused, there was still plenty of valuable takeaways for our customers. Here’s my overview of the four major talking points.
It won’t be a surprise to learn that the cloud market has grown significantly in recent years, as businesses and vendors alike look to capitalise on increased flexibility, scalability and accessibility. As you might expect, the hyperscalers are at the forefront of this growth.
Half of all physical servers sold globally now ship to the hyperscalers, an insight into the level of infrastructure expansion necessary to meet demand. This coincides with £140 billion CAPEX spend last year.
But while cloud is often seen as the route to more predictable economics, even the hyperscalers are impacted by the global economic factors that are challenging us all. Even in best case scenarios, energy expenses for datacentres have doubled, and these rising costs will likely see Infrastructure-as-a-Service costs increase by around 30% by 2024.
For our customers, many of whom are already exploring ways to slim down expenses, optimising your cloud environment to reduce your spend is more important than ever. Without a fine-tuned and rationalised cloud estate, delivered as part of a defined strategy, you can easily fall foul of unnecessary overprovisioning, and shadow costs like ingress charges and egress fees.
While the evolution of threats is not an unknown challenge, there were some interesting insights into how the current economic climate is forcing cybercriminals to rethink and refine their approach.
The recent crypto market crash has had a significant impact on many cybercriminals reliant on these currencies to fund their operations; and they are still subject to the same rise in energy bills and other costs related to the running of infrastructure behind their operations.
This has given rise to large scale public cloud hacking, with cybercriminals looking to hack public cloud environments to leverage compute power on someone else’s tab. The challenge for end customers is that these costs don’t reveal themselves until some time after the attack has occurred.
Think of your public cloud like a credit card, where the full extent of your expenditure isn’t revealed until the bill comes at the end of the month. By that point, any excessive or unexpected spend has already occurred, often without you even realising.
And while the hyperscalers and other cloud providers are understandably taking what steps they can to reinforce their own defences, it places even more importance on conscientious cloud management. This consists of alerts and warnings in place to flag these issues, coupled with expert help and support to manage the situation appropriately.
This is where the approach to cybersecurity has shifted away from a strict focus on protection. There is now a realisation that even best-in-class tools can’t protect every vulnerability, with preparation, detection and response becoming even more vital.
Ensuring that security protocols like strong passwords and multi-factor authentication (MFA) are enforced will form a key part of any follow up to a cloud-related breach, as well as being able to demonstrate that your users – regrettably still the biggest vulnerability in any organisation – are suitably trained in best practice, and prepared to identify and manage any possible breach.
Another significant challenge facing IT is the impact of production, logistics and operations on the environment. And as the IT industry continues to grow, this impact only increases. By 2030, it’s anticipated that 11% of global energy will be consumed by IT, and customers are beginning to put more pressure on the vendors and partners they work with as they look to meet their own targets.
It’s led to a push for organisations across the channel to sign up to the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi), a science-backed scheme that supports businesses as they follow defined pathways to reduce emissions in line with the Paris Agreement. From the many conversations I had at the event, it’s certainly an avenue that many businesses, including ourselves, will be exploring in the next few years as we all look to tackle the climate crisis.
Beyond emissions, there was also a renewed focus on the circular economy, and the importance of the IT refurb market. Almost all major technology vendors already operate refurb or trade-in schemes, but these must be pushed harder as a genuine alternative. In France, for example, all public sector contracts must include 20% of refurbed products, and it may not be too long before similar requirement are in place elsewhere.
For our customers, we can already access all of the major refurb and trade-in options available from our vendor partners, and are always keen to support you in assessing more environmentally-conscious options – especially as refurbed technology frequently offers a cost-effective alternative to new, with comparable quality and reliability.
The way that businesses choose to buy their IT has already long been changing, but the move towards as-a-Service models and consumption-based IT shows little sign of slowing.
In a further development, there’s now more demand for self-service marketplaces, where businesses and their users can enjoy greater levels of autonomy over the services and applications accessible for their team. Crucially, this needs to be delivered as part of a consumption-based, expertly managed, and truly scalable model that removes the burden on internal IT.
This is even more critical with IT spend now being spread across more and more business units, as different parts of the organisation become switched-on to the tools they need to do their best work.
For those on this journey, it’s important to consider that joining these solutions together as part of an integrated environment demands the support of an experienced and knowledgeable IT partner.
With some exciting developments on the horizon for the IT industry, and some significant trends and opportunities for businesses from every sector, we’re all looking forward to what the end of this year and 2023 has in store.
If you’d like to learn more about the developments from Canalys, or need support with any projects related to the topics discussed above, please get in touch with the team.