Next year, I expect hybrid cloud to take off, driving hyper-growth in the underlying flash, integration and software technologies.
Businesses of all sizes will start to build infrastructure that combines elements of private and public cloud. As a result, we are going to see the emergence of those three hyper-growth technologies.
Flash is becoming the de facto underlying infrastructure for cloud and sales of all-flash arrays will grow exponentially in 2015. Those resellers that take a lead in this market and drive the uptake of flash will do better than those that wait for the market to evolve.
We are seeing integration technologies – such as converged and reference architectures – as ripe for channel growth. Solutions that are more integrated with fabric datacentres will sell well in the channel as customers try to manage complexity as they migrate to hybrid environments.
Software that is designed to enable software-defined storage and datacentres will sell well too. The trend for software-defined anything will continue to pick up pace throughout 2015 as customers learn about the the cost savings and agility benefits of virtualisation.
Next year, the channel will experience increasing complexity.
Channel organisations have already had to change a lot over the past decade as the technology they sell evolves. As virtualisation continues its conquest of the enterprise, the complexity will gather momentum.
For example, resellers in a virtualised world can no longer rely on selling storage capacity to meet new customer application requirements. They will need new skills to advise customers on how to locate application workloads within a hybrid cloud infrastructure, whether on or off premise. And they will need to be able to explain their choices to the customer.
Customer organisations will continue to suffer from internal politics, which will also need to be better understood by resellers. For instance, resellers must learn how customers' IT and financial departments interact – as often the two disagree on technology purchases. IT may prefer the job security of capex, while CFOs want to move costs to opex.
Resellers must be able to make their case at a workload level, so they must understand hybrid infrastructures. They must be able to provide consultancy.
Relationships with vendor partners in 2015 should be based on simplicity, predictability and profitability. In an increasingly complex world, resellers need to partner with vendors that help with sales engagement and consultancy from the outset, to build value for end-user businesses.
Many channel players have already adapted to the era of hybrid cloud. Services integrators are becoming resellers, and resellers are becoming services providers or partnering with service providers. Sales teams must keep up with these changes too.
Only those resellers with hybrid cloud expertise are going to thrive. So talent management is going to be hugely important next year. Channel sales and pre-sales teams can no longer get by on straight product sales. Skills in technology consultancy and services brokering will be needed.
This will require retraining existing employees in the three key technological strands mentioned above, as well as hiring new ones – even though we are likely to see more distributors aggregating and offering different cloud services through resellers.
In 2015 all storage resellers will also need to be security experts – given the number of data breaches we are hearing about.
Philippe Fosse is EMEA vice president of channels at EMC
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