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Techaisle Blog

Insightful research, flexible data, and deep analysis by a global SMB IT Market Research and Industry Analyst organization dedicated to tracking the Future of SMBs and Channels.

IBM Acquires Red Hat – What does it mean and to whom

IBM’s acquisition of Red Hat makes sense on several levels: it adds a high-growth software portfolio to boost software and recurring revenue, and provides IBM with a bit of a ‘halo’ in the tech community, as it now controls the industry’s leading Open Source supplier.

Moving down a level, though, why might this acquisition matter – and to whom? Techaisle’s take on the most important angles that shaped and will determine the success of the deal. (Download Techaisle Take report)

Who does this matter to?

Imagine you are an enterprise with a large legacy infrastructure, possibly in a regulated industry (like financial services or government). You see that IT service delivery is advancing faster outside your walls than within your firm, as other businesses aggressively adopt cloud, Agile, DevOps and containers.

You are motivated to try to integrate these advanced platforms/products/methodologies into your environment as well – to capitalize on the advantages that they can deliver, or because you’re afraid that if you don’t act you’ll be left behind, watching competitors introduce new IT-enabled capabilities faster and at lower cost than you can.

In an organization like this, IT executives are unlikely to want to dive headlong into a deep/committed relationship with a public cloud provider like AWS. They will understand the importance of building a multi-cloud, hybrid IT infrastructure, but will want to manage that environment internally, with a focus on existing capabilities (both installed products and skills). “Cloud first” won’t be a living mandate – it might describe an approach to new and non-critical applications, but won’t be a serious consideration for core systems of record.

Advantages (and some potential pitfalls) of a combined IBM/Red Hat

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Defending the SMB Business in the Cloud Era

Small and midsized businesses are challenged with defending their users, applications and data against external threats. Security issues cast a long shadow over SMB IT priorities, especially as firms embrace the benefits of hybrid IT, only to find that their environments become more complex, and more difficult to manage and protect. SMBs are responding by expanding security budgets – but they lack the staff and expertise to construct effective shields around their organizations. The channel has an essential role to play in defending their clients’ SMB businesses against security threats.

The origins of the saying “it’s about the journey, not the destination” may be unclear – it’s variably ascribed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, theologian Lynn H. Hough, Canadian rapper Drake, and others – but its applicability in an IT security context is clear: there is no end point at which security is ‘done’; security requires constant updating, to stay current with expanding threat vectors.

This requirement for continuously-improved IT security is both a challenge and an opportunity for channel members. There is a need to stay current with the tactics and technologies that protect SMBs from threats – and there is a steady and profitably business to be made in meeting this challenge.

What is the opportunity?

Techaisle has pegged US SMB security spending in 2018 at $9 billion: nearly $4 billion in spend by small (1-99 employees) businesses, and more than $5 billion in spending by midmarket (100-999) firms. And the market is expanding rapidly, especially at the high end of the small business segment and within the midmarket: a large-scale Techaisle survey found that in 2018, firms with 50-99, 100-499 and 500-999 employees increased IT security spending by 6%, 7% and 8%, respectively. Channel organizations that invest in building strong security practices are able to tap into strong and growing demand for IT security solutions, and the management expertise needed to effectively deploy security products in an SMB environment.

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The connection between hybrid cloud use and focus on orchestration

Techaisle’s US SMB & Midmarket Orchestration, Integration & Automation study finds that use of multiple IT service delivery platforms – various forms of cloud, plus on-premise, colo-based and hosted infrastructure – increases the complexity associated with connecting, balancing and optimizing systems, and as a result, creates demand for automation and orchestration to ensure that these processes aren’t bottlenecked by requirements for operator intervention.

It seems intuitive that firms that are currently using hybrid cloud systems would register very high levels of use/interest in orchestration and automation tools. This is largely true. Roughly half of small businesses and two-thirds of midmarket firms are using or planning to use hybrid cloud. Two-thirds of small businesses and nearly 90% of midmarket firms using/planning use of hybrid consider orchestration tools to be “critical” or “very important.” Expanding the midmarket data survey shows that 20% of midmarket firms that use hybrid cloud systems say that orchestration tools are critical to deploying workloads on hybrid platforms and another 69% say orchestration tools are very important.

When analyzed by IT maturity data shows that nearly half of the Advanced IT group and two-thirds of the Enterprise IT group are already using hybrid cloud, with use projected to rise to/beyond 70% over the next 12 months. Despite these high current usage levels, though, Advanced and Enterprise IT users do not, for the most part, currently consider orchestration tools to be “critical” (less than one-quarter across the two segments), though they do classify orchestration as “very important.”

Techaisle also analyzed data by current digitalization strategy and cloud maturity level. “Holistic” firms (with organization-wide digital transformation strategy) are both much more likely to be using hybrid cloud today and to consider orchestration to be “critical;” these firms would appear to be good targets for SMB/Midmarket-focused orchestration campaigns. More than half of both “mature” and “born-in-the-cloud” firms are using hybrid today, with penetration expected to rise to 70%-80% over the next twelve months. Fully 40% of BITC and more than a quarter of “mature” cloud users also view orchestration as critical – making this another useful segmentation for marketers of orchestration tools looking at the SMB/Midmarket opportunity.

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Channel Partners landscape – four key questions

The channel industry examined by Techaisle’s 2018 SMB & midmarket channel research survey (separate studies conducted in the US and Worldwide) is very different from the community that existed a decade ago. Once a staid domain in which technologists provided IT infrastructure support to local customers, the channel is being reshaped by five key issues: cloud, and its wrenching effect on all aspects of the channel business structure; managed services efficiencies, especially vs. the pending opportunity associated with digital transformation; increasingly-complex data center technologies; integration demands that are expanding in multiple directions; and the need to sell on and deliver to business rather than technical outcomes. Let us discuss four key questions arising out of the research that is of interest to IT vendors and distributors.

Question 1. What are the top channel trends?

The channel is being reshaped by five key issues:

  1. cloud, and its wrenching effect on all aspects of the channel business structure;
  2. managed services efficiencies, especially vs. the pending opportunity associated with digital transformation;
  3. increasingly-complex data center technologies;
  4. orchestration & integration demands that are expanding in multiple directions; and
  5. the need to sell on and deliver to business rather than technical outcomes

A lot has been written about cloud so let us discuss the other four areas and the remaining three questions.

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