Cloud giants such as AWS and Google are embracing the channel as they look to capitalise on the "next phase" of cloud adoption, according to Canalys.
The analyst says that AWS, Microsoft and Google grew their cloud infrastructure revenues by 43 per cent, 93 per cent and 74 per cent respectively in Q1, year on year, as the overall market rose by 42 per cent to $11.4bn.
But this trio have concluded that building an indirect business will be the only way to maintain that order of growth, Canalys principal analyst Matthew Ball told CRN.
"We're seeing the next phase of cloud adoption beyond the big marquee projects like Netflix and Snapchat," he said. "The cloud providers are now looking at corporate and mid-market accounts, and for that they need greater reach and scale, and that's where the role of the channel comes in.
"So we are seeing a lot of the big cloud providers, AWS and Google in particular - those that haven't come from an enterprise IT background - starting to mature their partner programmes and channel engagements. They are looking to focus on that more because they recognise that the channel has those relationships with customers. So we believe that the channel will be a part of their go-to-market strategies going forward, especially if they want to maintain their high levels of growth each quarter and year."
Canalys pegged AWS' Q1 cloud infrastructure sales at over $3.5bn, but the market leader's success need not be at the cost of the channel, said Ball, who argued that the rise of cloud has in some cases expanded the role played by resellers.
"The channel has made good business selling datacentre infrastructure in the past, and we believe they still will do going forward," he said. "Cloud is another choice for customers in terms of how they operate their IT environments and, for sure, it's a concern for channel partners. But we've seen some partners being affected by cloud and others changing their business model to develop consultancy or professional services to help their customers define a cloud environment.
"The key thing is that we see customers opting for a multi-cloud environment - picking at least two of the big four providers, and mixing that with on-premise IT infrastructure, whether that's for compliance or security reasons, or whatever. The level of complexity is increasing, so that's the role of the channel partner: to help customers overcome that complexity. Potentially that means channel partners' business models will evolve and change, and we will potentially see them developing more managed services as a result."
The nature of cloud sparked fears that the channel could and would be cut out of the loop on deals, but Ball said that cloud has not changed the fundamental economics of the direct-versus-indirect debate.
"The cost of a direct engagement, beyond the very largest global multinationals, is really expensive, and that has always been one of the advantages of an indirect model," he said.
Chief exec Jens Montanana claims Logicalis performed well despite 'currency headwinds'
All the photos from last night's event, which saw over 600 people congregate at the Hilton London Bankside
Five year deal with Essex NHS Trust will cover 400 sites, including hospitals, clinics and GP practices
18 individuals and three companies walked away as winners at CRN's inaugural Women in Channel Awards last night