Demystifying Cloud Partnership: how to choose a cloud partner that works for you

Cloud adoption is increasingly being implemented globally with this set to continue. Over the next five years, IDC predicts that the cloud-based business solutions market will increase by 30%. The benefits it provides to organisations are clear  – faster time to market, lower cost platforms and the ability to provide more agility which helps us work towards our digital transformation goals.

Your cloud adoption is not something that should keep you up at night. Although, it is important to remember that it’s not an easy process that requires ‘no IT’, nor does it guarantee a ‘lower-cost delivery model’.

Choosing the perfect partner

Deciding on the right cloud solution provider (CSP) for you is a challenging task. When undertaking this consider:

  • The type of platform that will work best for your organisation’s needs.
  • Planning the potential scale and complexity of your solution.
  • Design the end solution to be technology agnostic to give you more options in the future.
  • Your organisation’s current strengths and areas you need assistance with.
  • Cloud services do not need to be a “one-stop package” – if you can find the perfect partner that meets all your requirements then great, but a multi-vendor strategy should not be ruled out.
  • A complete cloud strategy may not currently work for all areas of your business. It may be best to have a combination of on premises and in the cloud initially.

Finding the perfect partner

It is good to understand where your potential CSP partner is regarded. Are they:

  • Pioneers: Most complete in their offering and value added to you – these partners are leading the shift to the cloud. Typically, implementation and migration experts, but they also have to ability to resell licenses for multiple cloud platforms.
  • Builders: They have extensive market knowledge and cloud experience. Tend to work with large enterprises that need assistance with strategic and transformative work.
  • Transactors: They mainly sell lots of hardware and software services (normally in bulk). Limitation of this type of CSP is that they are very limited on terms of the additional services they can provide, meaning a low total value to you.
  • Specialists: Normally operate in niche industries and have a limited offering. However, they do excel at what they deliver; but they are highly specialised, so their value and offerings are limited in-house (although tend to use other partners to deliver more services).

Regardless of the CSP you end up choosing – for example, Amazon, Google, Microsoft or Oracle – they will all offer and provide you with similar global and technology services. Unless you are a large global player, getting direct access to these will be a challenge. Therefore, a recommendation is to look at smaller Premium or Gold partners of these CSPs. They will provide you with the bundle of managed services (such as consulting, design, migration, implementation, and life-cycle management) in a much more competitive, agile and personalised nature.

Working with your CSP

Your ideal CSP should be a strategic partner that is valued on both sides of the relationship. Work with your chosen partner to:

  • Set out your vision and be clear on the goals together so that both sides understand where you are heading.
  • If you have a multi-vendor platform managing your environment, make sure they understand how they each fit into the task of delivering the needs of your business. By including them early on to share the responsibility of delivering these services, it provides your CSP with more ownership and buy-in to deliver against the common goal.
  • Create an environment that will stimulate your staff/company to make them want to take part in embracing cloud services. Ensure communication channels are open with your chosen CSP at multiple levels.
  • Be clear when communicating what success is for delivering these services. Remember success is modest improvement, consistently done. Have you got the right partner to achieve this?
  • Ensure you discuss your exit strategy openly and honestly. In today’s market, termination agreements need to be fair and allow you to switch providers. Gone are the days of 3+ year contracts.

Make it personal

Finally, it is important to mention the social aspect of your partnership. It is beneficial to get to know the people and company that are helping you to deliver your vision and the service expected within your business. When possible, attend events that are meaningful to what you are trying to deliver. Try and ensure multiple people/teams within your business are interacting on a social/personal level. Building and maintaining these relationships will help understand what motivates each of you and build more interest in the partnership and services being delivered. It can be vital when challenges end up confronting you as that relationship will allow for the candour to help either resolve the issue quicker or help to collaborate more effectively on new projects.

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