Partnerships can provide the expertise needed to promote, sell, design, integrate, customize, deploy and support new applications on-premises, in the public cloud or in hybrid cloud architectures. They allow providers to expand their offerings to include services like managed security, IoT solutions and analytics to differentiate themselves. Tech companies partner for profit, but increasingly they partner because customers expect things to work in the complex, evolving world of cloud computing.
By 2023, some industry experts expect 70% of new cloud-related service opportunities will be driven by participation in cloud provider partnerships, up from 30% in 2020.
Partnerships are the way forward for companies that want to move fast, according to Bill McDermott, CEO of ServiceNow.
"When you have a born-in-the-cloud company … like ServiceNow, the idea of partnerships is dramatically different,” McDermott told Protocol. “The days of these multiyear, high-risk, tough-to-get-the-value-out-of projects were an artifact of the 20th century.”
In addition to rapid innovation and growing complexity around enterprise technologies and services, IT decision makers, service providers and channel resellers are dealing with an industry shift to subscription billing models from traditional sales, leasing or licensing models.
“Now more than ever, the channel really needs to move faster to ‘everything as a service,’” Christian Alvarez, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Channels for Nutanix, told CRN. “And to adapt really quickly to subscription. Why? Customers are asking for this.”
Striking savvy partnerships is more important now than ever, according to Alvarez, who helps develop partner programs and foster strategic relationships with service providers, partners, value-added resellers (VARs), distributors, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and global system integrators.
He sees Nutanix customers' reliance on and expectations for enterprise cloud capabilities intensifying. Many are building the future of their businesses on hybrid multicloud IT operations, which blend private and public cloud services. Increasingly that requires interoperability, including automation, across different technologies and services.
“This paradigm shift in customer expectations and cloud acceleration is leading prudent service providers into new partnerships,” he said.
“You can’t do it alone. Scaling a business and sustaining profitability requires working creating partnerships that give customers a simpler way to drive their digital transformation. That involves consulting, design, new products, integration, customization and 24x7 support.”
He said all of these need to work together, consistently. That’s what’s behind the Nutanix Elevate Service Provider Program. It helps providers pursue partnerships that can improve customer experiences, competitiveness and profitability. There’s no minimum commitment or cost to service providers to join the program, which allows carriers of all sizes to participate.
Alvarez said many customers are making their on-premises IT capabilities work with different public cloud services.
“The partnerships are critical for ensuring interoperability and reliability, which are essential to IT teams, especially as many move to hybrid multicloud operations,” Alvarez said.
Blurring Ecosystem Lines
Business-customer transitions from IT capital expenditures to subscriptions and consumption-based operational costs are blurring the lines between system integrators, software vendors and service providers, according to Alvarez.
“Multiple vendors may be responsible for a single customer experience,” he said.
Alvarez sees providers and resellers redesigning their sales, post-sales and support approaches to address cloud and distributed enterprise solutions, especially as customers have had to embrace more distributed architectures to reach remote-work employees.
“Business customers need a lot of help getting from A to Z,” he said. “This is why they turn to service providers and these providers must be able to continuously access customer needs and deliver reliable solutions. And those needs can change over time.”
He said partnerships are proving especially useful to customers moving to the cloud for the first time. By working together, partners can give customers confidence that they’ll be supported by a broad array of professionals working together to uphold clear service-level agreements (SLAs) in the cloud. Partner ecosystems can also help customers sort through the complexity of what applications, networks, cloud services, storage solutions and other IT components they need, he said.
Demand for Diverse Skillsets
The seismic shift to distributed workforces and an expanding universe of technology solutions have required different and diverse service provider skillsets. Providers are being called on to build and support individualized solutions aligned to different customer objectives and budgets. That can be a tall order without a trusted partner who can supply the required expertise.
Alvarez pointed to the recent Nutanix and Red Hat partnership that involves joint engineering plus pre-sales and post-sales engagements, and cross-team customer service. Now that Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Red Hat OpenShift are certified to run on the Nutanix Cloud Platform, customers can feel confident about interoperability and support from both companies.
Alvarez said new partnerships require cross-company training, fast-track support teamwork, regular updates, bug fixes and much more.
“These all translate into happier customers that derive more benefits from their investments,” he said.
For example, Nutanix provides telemetry data from its cloud platform and application software to traffic from the network core to the customer device. The data can show how specific applications are performing, how often certain features are used, consumption patterns and user or group behavior, Alvarez explained.
This information helps providers do a better, more proactive job of managing customer deployments and supporting SLAs. Providers can also use the telemetry data to develop management and analytics services that can be packaged and sold to subscriber organizations to generate new sources of revenue.
Garnering the necessary domain expertise across cloud platforms, applications and technologies in this way going forward requires a pooling of skills and know-how, said Alvarez.
“In return, there’s unlimited opportunity to earn greater margins, which at the end of the day, is one of the most important things to service providers,” he said.
Above it all, Alvarez sees these industry alliances as essential for delivering on the promises of new hybrid multicloud capabilities. Helping businesses modernize their owned IT technologies to work across a proliferation of software, services and cloud services providers...takes a trusted, well-aligned village.