The IT industry has been talking about cloud for at least a decade. Amazon's Amazon Web Services (AWS) has been available to the market since 2006 and Microsoft's answer to the cloud - Azure - will celebrate its ninth year this month.
But the ongoing cloud debate has undoubtedly taken huge strides over the last two to three years as the industry's biggest vendors make an aggressive push for European business. These years have proved vital in getting once-uncertain European customers on board.
The three big hyperscalers - Amazon, Microsoft and Google - have spent the last three years trying to settle the most convincing argument most customers have against public cloud: trust.
In preparation for GDPR, which came into effect last year, and in an effort to permanently put to bed European concerns about data privacy, public cloud providers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on building European datacentres. Microsoft now has eight datacentre regions in Europe across the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland and France, with six further locations in the pipeline. Amazon just opened its fifth datacentre region - in Sweden - while Google boasts four regions across the continent.
As European customers gradually begin to feel more comfortable with the idea of migrating data to the cloud, channel partners have inevitably reacted.
"Born in the cloud" consultancies have sprung up all over Europe, looking to cash in on the lucrative opportunity cloud presents, while volume resellers and systems integrators have similarly been asking themselves how they can remain relevant when customers begin conversations about migrating workloads to the public cloud.
Yet the industry has seen another disruptive shift in recent years which could take the wind out of cloud's sales. Strides made in edge computing around IoT, smart technology and data-driven intelligence are providing an argument against the notion that cloud is the only answer.
Several high-profile technology icons including Michael Dell and Satya Nadella have pushed back against the idea that public cloud will dominate IT infrastructure in years to come. Dell fired shots at AWS and Azure last year, claiming on-premise costs half as much as public cloud, whereas Nadella proclaimed that the future is hybrid as Microsoft launched the Azure Stack to run public cloud on-prem.
Regardless of where you sit on the cloud debate, we live in a time when it is essential for the channel to have an answer to the big cloud question.
It is in this vein that Channel Partner Insight is launching exclusive research on which European channel partners are leading the way on public cloud and have obtained top-level competencies with the key providers of today.
At the beginning of last year, IDC predicted that public cloud services spending would reach $160bn by the end of 2018, and become a $277bn industry by 2021. That equates to a five-year CAGR of 21.9 per cent.
Software-as-a-service (SaaS) is forecast to account for almost two thirds of the public cloud services market, says IDC, followed by infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS).
We have studied the highest-certified partners of six vendors which symbolise each category.
For SaaS this is Salesforce and Workday. For IaaS, AWS, Microsoft and Google; and for PaaS, ServiceNow.
The research spans seven European regions: the UK, France, Germany, Benelux, the Nordics, Italy and Spain, taking into account the highest-certified partners in each.
We detail the methodology we used in compiling the research here.
35) Telstra - score: 8
Australian telco Telstra generates AUD 26bn ($16.46bn) from its home country, but has made a push into the wider APAC and EMEA regions over the last few years. Telstra is now a 400-strong team in EMEA with European offices in France, Germany, Sweden, the UK, South Africa and Dubai. The EMEA team holds Gold-level Microsoft badges in Cloud Platform and Small and Midmarket Cloud Solutions and is an Advanced-level consulting partner with AWS.
34) Enimbos - score: 8
With the strapline "the cloud enabler company," this Spanish cloud migration expert works across all the "big three" cloud platforms: Microsoft Azure, AWS and Google Cloud. Based in Madrid, Enimbos holds top-level badges in Microsoft Cloud Platform and is an Advanced-level consultant on AWS.
33) Slalom - score: 10
Seattle-based consultancy Slalom boasts a 5,000-strong workforce in North America, but also works from a small outpost across the Atlantic in London. The firm has seen rapid growth since it was founded in 2001 and is now a $1bn-revenue organisation. Slalom works with the tripartite of cloud vendors: Microsoft, Google Cloud and Amazon, holding a Premier-level badge in the UK with the latter. It also has a Platinum certification with Salesforce.
32) PA Consulting Group - score: 10
London-based Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform partner PA Consulting Group brands itself as an "innovation and transformation consultancy" and operates across Europe and the US. It holds a Premier-level certification with Google and a Gold badge with Microsoft Cloud Platform. It lists AI, automation, data analytics and business intelligence among its specialisations.
31) KCOM - score: 10
This British telco is a Premier partner with AWS as well as a Gold-level Microsoft Cloud Platform partner. It is listed as an MSP, public sector and consulting partner with AWS.
30) HCL Technology - score: 10
Logging $9bn in sales worldwide, this Indian multinational is a top-tier ServiceNow partner in the UK and France and holds multiple Gold-level badges with Microsoft through its Surrey-based subsidiary Power Objects. HCL Technologies was recently awarded an excellence award from Cisco in software and cloud.
29) Basefarm - score: 13
Hybrid cloud provider Basefarm hails from Oslo, Norway. The company was acquired by Orange Group last August but has been operating independently ever since. Founded in 2000, it boasts a team of more than 550 engineers and advisers across Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany and Austria. It was named Northern European Service Provider of the Year by HPE this summer, but also holds Gold competencies with Microsoft Azure and is an Advanced partner with AWS.
28) AllCloud - score: 15
This cloud MSP recently celebrated hitting 50 AWS certifications. The firm holds six qualifications with AWS and has also invested heavily in Salesforce, and now has 100 certified staff with the vendor to date alongside partnerships with Google Cloud and NetSuite. Based in Israel, AllCloud has made inroads in Germany with offices in Munich and Berlin.
27) Appirio - score: 15
Google Cloud is Appirio's hyperscaler of choice, which complements its SaaS competencies with Salesforce and Workday. The US firm, which has branches in the UK, Ireland, Sweden and Finland, was acquired by Wipro as the consultancy giant looked to become more relevant in the cloud arena.
26) Cancom - score: 15
Cancom has invested heavily in its own application hosting platform called Cancom AHP over the last few years, which supports vendor products from Salesforce, Microsoft and others. The Munich-based firm is vying to grow its footprint globally as it ramps up its managed services offering for multinational clients. Aside from its own hosting platform, Cancom is an Advanced AWS consulting partner in Germany, and also holds Gold-level badges with Microsoft around Azure. It made a big cloud play with Microsoft in 2018 through snapping up £80m-turnover Azure partner OCSL.
"We are in an environment where you see the market is under a lot of pressure because the reselling and the stack of services around products is becoming more commoditised and there is more competition." Cancom CEO Thomas Volk
25) PwC - score: 15
$41bn-turnover professional services giant PwC has built its cloud consultancy practice around Google Cloud Platform, Workday and Salesforce, with which it holds top certifications.
For the full rundown, see Channel Partner Insight
Also on Channel Partner Insight today:
Channel partners will be rated by customers based on their performance
Overall EMEA market reports record Q1 but Brexit drags down UK
Slalom opens second UK office to support its growth strategy
Big Blue dragged down by legacy businesses again, despite cloud surge