Cloud and datacentre provider Node4 is looking to boost its channel sales to half its overall business by helping partners build their public cloud services.
Node4 offers co-location services to end users and the channel, but also provides managed services around its own private cloud and public cloud providers.
Node4 director of channel sales Andy Wilson told CRN that the firm is now looking to put a greater emphasis on the channel side of the business, targeting mid-market partners that cannot afford the capital investment needed to build their own cloud practice.
"We're putting our expertise in to give the channel the support for end users," he said. "What's important to me is looking past the partner and to their customer to see what challenges they're facing.
"I was with a partner recently talking about gap-filling their portfolio. They're a Microsoft partner which is cool, but there are certain things they don't do, so if they sit with their customer and just talk about Office 365 they're going to miss a whole cloud transformation project, because that's only one part of it.
"It's about how you become more relevant in that conversation. We're enabling the channel to have an end-to-end conversation."
Node4 is currently hitting an annual revenue of around £33m, 40 per cent of which comes through its channel partners CDW, Storm Technologies and CCS Media.
The firm is now aiming for the £50m revenue mark in 2020, with a plan to boost channel sales to 50 per cent of the overall business, although Wilson wants the figure to be more like 60 per cent.
Wilson said that channel firms shouldn't feel threatened by the fact that Node4 has a services arm which could effectively compete against them, saying that Node4's success selling its own services is proof that its model is working.
Alongside the channel push, the firm's new owners have set aside a £40m war chest for acquisitions.
Node4 invested in database management services specialist Onomi in June, after private equity firm Bowmark Capital backed a management buyout last October.
Wilson said that Node4, along with other firms in the hosting arena, is having to adapt to stay relevant in a world where public cloud is drawing more attention than ever.
He stopped short of saying that the future of hosting providers and datacentre companies is at risk, explaining that the journey to public cloud is not one that will be completed in the foreseeable future, because of the number of established mid-market firms with aging infrastructure that is difficult to move to the cloud.
While Wilson does not foresee any short-term risk for channel firms choosing not to embrace the public cloud providers, he said they could be made to regret the decision in the medium and long term.
Node4 itself is currently still seeing growth in its co-location business, which is spread across three datacentres in Derby, Leeds and Northampton.
"We're never going to win that battle," he said. "But we have to embrace the right technology for the right customer.
"We want to fix people's IT challenges through technology so if we're going to live by our vision it makes sense to use the best technology available, so AWS and Azure absolutely have a part to play for certain acquisitions and workloads, but mid-market businesses have to go on a journey to get there.
"While it's not our strategy to put ourselves completely in the hyperscalers, it is part of our portfolio for the right reasons. If you don't do that, you're not doing what's right for the customer but I don't think you'll see much change over the next few years. You might lose a bit of money but it won't be catastrophic."
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