Service providers and cloud brokerages are riding the bleeding edge of next-generation technology services, serving up IT and aggregating cloud services for a fast-growing customer base. Even though the transition to managed services is hardly over, there's another transition fast approaching on the horizon.
Major cloud providers, like Amazon's Amazon Web Services (AWS) are leading the way for trusted advisors to become connectivity consultation specialists.
Since we started with Amazon, here's a quick example: The new AWS Redshift data warehouse service eliminates the need for high-level high-cost hardware services, but it still leaves room for connectivity needs and optimisation practices.
Yes, cloud offerings may only requires an internet connection and an IT admin, but on a deeper level, improving that end-to-end delivery, from security to bandwidth optimisation, will require trusted advisors that can understand a client's network infrastructure and a vendor's service delivery platform and help it scale, grow and adapt.
This is more complicated than subscription-based resellables and more involved than hosting a traditional NOC.
Clouds never far away
Additionally, many of those security and optimisation capabilities will come from the cloud as well.
Brocade's Vyatta, Riverbed and F5 Networks -- to name a few -- are some of the appliance vendors moving their wares to a cloud environment (in this case AWS) so service providers can combine them with other cloud services.
This process reshapes recurring revenue streams, moving them away from standard support services, server hosting and device management towards revenue derived from offering and connectivity management.
The real challenge within this specialisation will be in the ability to build custom offerings for industry-specific situations.
A client may demand a certain style of product set, perhaps a mix-and-match from different vendors, and a provider will be expected to deliver that cocktail to the customer. The complexity in that challenge is the inherent opportunity - because the market will soon be demanding it.
IDC predictions have painted a picture of "industry-targeted value-added solutions and services". This is a space set to take off in 2013. IDC cites the demand in vertical industries as the main investors, but SMBs have a growing apetite for enterprise technology and the cloud has an effect of removing barriers to custom offerings, in my view, for businesses of all sizes.
IDC says that many line of business executives will make decisions that stress the importance of communicating connectivity capabilities through consultation. and critical step -- because 60 per cent of all new IT investments in 2013 are set to involve executives.
That marketwatcher says $65 billion will be spent on industry-specific offerings this year alone.
Many of these companies are set to use a "third platform strategy" - one that harnesses cloud connectivity with what already exists on-premise - something with which a connectivity specialist should be concerned.
IDC also predicts that by 2016, this industry will hit $100 billion (£64.6 billion) as many companies seek to reinvent their businesses based around custom offerings. Thus, the future of service providers is less about serving up services and more about putting the pieces together for a client.
Complexity is the channel's best friend and with increasing complexity around both the connection of services and consultative process to uncover which offerings are needed, the channel is well equipped to tackle this rapidly approaching challenge.
As part of our special editorial partnership, CRN is publishing this recent article from Channelnomics.
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