Cloud's big three may have their work cut out for them this year as the battle for cloud supremacy reaches boiling point, according to channel consultancy Xentaurs
Gary Brown, president and COO of Xentaurs, a digital transformation consulting firm servicing VARs, said that Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft and Google will be locked in an intense market share battle in 2018, driven by customer concerns over pricing.
"Clients will continue the transformation to the cloud, and there will be more born in the cloud initiatives; however retaining clients and capturing this net new spend will be a blood bath," he said.
According to IDC's Worldwide Semiannual Public Cloud Services Tracker, AWS leads the Infrastructure as a Service market in market share and growth. Gartner in September also pegged AWS at the top the market with 44.2 percent in market share, followed by Microsoft, Alibaba and then Google.
But by Brown's measures, AWS will have to face a competitive market this year where its biggest obstacle will be customers' challenges in understanding how much they will ultimately owe, according to Brown.
"It seems no matter what you expect to pay and plan for it is always higher. … The prices are very clear; however it is the price the client [actually] ends up paying [that is challenging]. It is so easy to add this and that, and most AWS environments are not monitored for optimisation.
"For example, in a large development environment where developers are working one shift, [for example], the environment is still click charging without being used. That is why platforms like [SaaS public cloud spend optimisation platform] ParkMyCloud are important to shut down unused services..."
AWS does offer a monitoring service for AWS cloud resources and applications customers run on AWS called AWS CloudWatch. One of the alarms customers can set helps them monitor estimated AWS charges. With this feature enabled, customers receive email alerts when charges have exceeded a certain threshold.
It also offers AWS Trusted Advisor, which is said to monitor customer configurations, compare them to known best practices and then notify customers where opportunities exist to save.
Yet, Brown says many clients remain confused by their AWS bill after fully transitioning.
"It is a common theme that comes up over and over with clients: ‘How did we get here, this is expensive?'" he said.
Microsoft, meanwhile, is challenged by speed of change, according to the exec.
"Microsoft has a wide portfolio that covers a lot of the client stack all the way up to end user applications. Messaging that portfolio value in a consumable way that differentiates Microsoft is not clear," Brown said.
Google, on the other hand, is more of an alternative than a first choice, in Brown's view.
"Google's value seems like if you don't like [Microsoft] or [AWS, then] see us," Brown said.
While Microsoft declined to comment on Brown's comments, a Google spokesperson responded by pointing to 2017's "partner momentum" with activity from Accenture, Box, Cisco, Nutanix, Pivotal, PwC, Salesforce, SAP, Slack and VMware.
Google also pointed to Google Cloud customers "of all sizes," including 2017 additions Colgate-Palmolive, Hearst, HSBC, Kohl's, Marketo, Nielsen, PayPal and Schlumberger.
"We believe our services are more secure, more reliable and better value than others available today," the Google spokesperson said.
When asked how these so-called market challenges will impact the cloud big three's VAR and MSP partners, Brown said these channel partners are having to spend a lot of time figuring out changes and how to position their offerings. This includes selling, renewals and managing clients.
"To do this for all three would be a lot of effort; just one is challenging. Then, they have to [differentiate] between each other (VAR to VAR). The ability to consume, monetise and capitalise on these changes will be critical," Brown said.
The exec pointed to growing companies like ParkMyCloud and CloudGenera, a cloud brokerage enablement company, as "leveling the field" and helping customers get a solid perspective on placement, utilisation and optimisation of costs.
He said channel partners that adopt these tools and become advisors to clients will win more market share and gain trust with their clients and others this year.
"The partnership will earn them a special and profitable relationship with end clients," he said. "Those that have the product, services and financial portfolio to advise, architect, migrate, manage and optimise client workloads while providing the cost benefit analysis and business showbacks will win every day. Clients want someone to take care of that for them."
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