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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.

Google Anthos - a big deal for the midmarket - if a partner strategy emerges

Today, at Cloud Next 2019 in San Francisco, Google’s annual industry conference, Google announced its Cloud Services Platform, Anthos, for managing hybrid clouds that span on-premise and cloud data centers, and across multi-cloud environments. It is a big deal. It uses Kubernetes to enable migration across environments, is hardware agnostic, supports Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure, and is subscription-based with a starting list price of $10,000/month per 100 vCPU block.

There is a thought that Anthos is a shot across the bows of AWS and Azure – and certainly, an approach that abstracts functionality from underlying cloud architecture will impinge on the ‘data gravity’ customer retention approach being used by these vendors. But IBM is at risk with Anthos as well, as the positive reception of its recent Red Hat acquisition is rooted in the promise of a single-vendor approach to providing hybrid and multi-cloud management and orchestration capabilities.

Clearly, Anthos has been developed with large enterprises as the target segment; some enterprise accounts are already early beta customers. To ease the addition of cloud as a core infrastructure platform in these accounts (by simplifying migration across in-premise and cloud environments) Google introduced Anthos Migrate, a service which will auto-migrate VMs from on-premise or other clouds into containers in the Google Kubernetes Engine.

It’s important to note, though, that hybrid cloud management is not only a point of pain within enterprise customers – it is a challenge (and arguably, a more acute issue) within midmarket (100-999 employees) firms. Consider these stats from Techaisle study of 510 US midmarket firms:

  • 52% of midmarket firms are using multi-cloud
  • 45% of midmarket firms have hybrid cloud environments
  • 38% of midmarket firms are using multiple public cloud providers for IaaS and PaaS
  • 27% of midmarket firms are planning to adopt G-Suite
  • 25% of midmarket firms are challenged by how to migrate from one cloud platform to another
  • 18% of midmarket cloud workloads are on hybrid clouds

Data for Europe and Asia/Pacific also very interesting current and planned adoption percentages for hybrid/multi-cloud.

The multi-cloud, hybrid-cloud journey began within midmarket firms much before it became fashionable within enterprises.

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SaaS delivering digital automation for US SMBs and Midmarket – forecast to spend USD26B in 2019

Techaisle’s US SMB and Midmarket SaaS adoption trend data shows that 73 percent of small businesses (1-99 employees) and 97 percent of midmarket firms (100-999 employees) are using one or more SaaS application categories. 37 percent of SMBs (1-999 employees) are using < 5 SaaS categories, however, 28 percent are using more than 10 SaaS categories (driven by midmarket firms). Overall 72 percent of SMBs are currently using 10 or less SaaS application categories but planned adoption indicates there is room to grow for the SaaS market within the SMB segment. The pace of SaaS automation is being governed by business & IT challenges, security posture, deployment and integration capability and point of purchase. Initial SaaS adoption has been for non-core business processes; however, 57 percent of mature adopters are using SaaS for core business processes. Techaisle survey data also shows that 64 percent of SMBs are using collaboration-focused SaaS solutions and 60 percent finance focused, however, future plans indicate that 62 percent will use customer-focused SaaS solutions.

As per Techaisle, US SMB and midmarket firms are forecast to spend US$25.6 billion on SaaS solutions in 2019.

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WW SMB and Midmarket Cloud spend to reach US$115 B in 2019

Techaisle’s latest US, Asia/Pacific, Europe and Latin America SMB and Midmarket cloud adoption trends survey research shows that the external spend on cloud will likely reach US$115B in 2019. The survey data also reveals that the total spend will be higher within small businesses (1-99 employees) than midmarket firms (100-999 employees) but average spend on cloud by midmarket firms will be approximately 30X – 35X of small businesses. Although cloud adoption is accelerating within SMBs and midmarket firms, the cloud spend is still only a fraction of the global SMB and midmarket IT spend (excluding telecom services) of US$662B in 2019.

Techaisle had forecast in 2016 that that the near-term trends will include ‘multiple clouds’ with more sophisticated automation. The 2016 data showed that over 70% of small business users and just over half of midmarket firms were working with a single type of cloud platform (public, private or hybrid). Techaisle believed that over time, most midmarket firms and a more substantial proportion of the small business community would opt to use multiple different cloud platforms, deploying workloads on the infrastructure that is best suited or most cost effective for the application’s needs. This would in turn require users to connect clouds – to each other, and to on-premise equipment – to ensure that management requirements associated with these diffused IT delivery platforms did not overwhelm the IT staff. Techaisle expected to see increased use of orchestration and advanced security technologies and other sophisticated tools to help the IT generalists who are common within SMB IT units to keep pace with increases in IT management complexity.

The forecast on the use of multiple clouds and use of orchestration and automation technologies is coming true. For example, in 2019, in the US, 52% of midmarket firms are currently using multiple clouds and 38% are using multiple public cloud providers. Even the percent of midmarket firms using hybrid clouds has increased to 45% with 18% of cloud workloads on hybrid platforms. Survey data shows that other regions, especially, Europe and Asia/Pacific, although behind the US are catching up.

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IBM empowering partner ecosystem to co-create the future

Enablement, execution, empowerment and experiences are the unwritten principles driving the entire IBM partner team in transforming the rules of partner engagement. At the recently concluded IBM PartnerWorld at Think conference in San Francisco, the term partner ecosystem was emblazoned across the entire IBM partner leadership team. Techaisle data shows that channel partners are faced with balancing investment in depth vs breadth and increasingly turning to a larger ecosystem for partner-to-partner collaboration. Between 2014-2018 there has been a 69% increase in opportunistic partner collaboration for sales. By using the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to empower its partners, IBM is formalizing partner-to-partner collaboration and ecosystem, named IBM Business Partner Connect, built on Watson.

With an instant match capability, IBM Business Partner Connect has been designed to accelerate solutions for end-customers by matching partners looking for assistance with partners offering expertise. Business Partner Connect also allows partners to join the business partner Slack community to share best practices and find new partnership opportunities. In its pilot stage, approximately 800 partners participated, which unveiled 300 matches.

Enablement to Empowerment

In the current channel world – where core business conditions, market opportunities and requirements are all in flux – an opportunity to provide relevant guidance, targeted business advice from IBM, plus peer-level input, is an enormously important and valuable capability. Partners need guidance to transition through current market and business changes and a community is an appropriate context for this guidance, and leading the community will be IBM at the center of this dialogue/activity. Over time, Business Partner Connect and the community platform will give IBM the ability to involve a large number of partners, increase IBM’s centricity, and provide a revenue line into the channel operation.

It is quite evident that a key factor in IBM’s partner program’s momentum and transformation has been John Telstch’s leadership and his own ecosystem of senior leaders (Carola Cazenave, Jacqueline Woods, Catherine Solazzo, Chris Oliver, Jamie Mendez, Ken Gregory and Rose Nunez). He has been listening, responding and committing to having the channel partner’s back. Techaisle’s latest study of channel partners shows that 52% of partners want their vendor partner channel chiefs to be setting a clear overall strategy and 44% value trustworthiness and accountability. John gets a check mark on both these value traits.

Vendor organizations usually focus on simplifying drivers of channel enablement, but IBM is consciously extending enablement to empowerment to deliver customer success. Enablement (usually incentives) is a short-term lever to change immediate partner behavior for achieving sales quotas and revenue targets. Regardless of addressing short-term objectives, it is necessary. In Techaisle’s study, 50% of partners mentioned that incentive programs are important for marketing and sales. Empowerment helps partners transform themselves from a vendor’s sales agents to sales advocates especially when increasingly partners are focusing on business outcomes with hybrid/as-a-Service delivery solutions and shared-risk partnerships. IBM has spent the last one year in understanding the present and is working consciously and furiously in shaping the future.

Simplifying partner experiences

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