Partners: Use Networking Prowess As A Springboard Into Cloud Services

Multi-cloud environments are all the rage in IT strategy these days, and when putting together private and public cloud environments -- also called hybrid cloud -- the network that cloud traffic traverses is critical, solution providers say.

Partners say solution providers that want to break into the cloud market can leverage the networking and carrier services they are already offering to make the connection. Those solution providers are already equipped to help connect a customer's disparate cloud environment, said Ed Fox, vice president of network services for New York-based solution provider MetTel.

"It’s the next logical step for folks like us and it makes sense, because we have all different methods to get our customers to the cloud," he said.

[Related: Partners: Rising Private Cloud Interest Paves Opportunity]

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According to Verizon's "State of the Market: Enterprise Cloud 2016" report, 53 percent of enterprises that responded to the survey are using two to four cloud providers, and about one-fourth of those respondents said their business employed more than 10 cloud providers as part of their IT strategy. That means the spotlight is really on the network, said Ryan Shuttleworth, chief technology officer for Verizon's cloud business unit.

"It's surprising that over half [of the respondents] have a multi-cloud strategy baked into their IT infrastructure. The quality of the network really matters, especially when you think about how [the separate cloud environments] federate and how data move around," Shuttleworth said.

That's where the opportunity for partners lies, he said. "Our channel partners are traditional resellers of network services. The hybrid cloud is giving them a story to tell that really sits within that [networking] space," Shuttleworth said.

MetTel is starting to see a lot of interest in hybrid cloud environments from its customer base. While businesses have been looking for help connecting disparate private cloud environments for a couple of years, connecting a combination of public and private cloud environments is a relatively new request, Fox said.

MeTel sees the importance of the network as it relates to cloud services and recently extended its private networking service into several large public cloud provider ecosystems, including Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, Salesforce and Google.

When working with a customer employing a hybrid cloud approach, MetTel connects the company's private cloud -- whether it's on a customer's premise or within a third-party's data center -- to the MetTel network, which can then be extended securely into a public cloud environment, Fox explained.

"We can get our customers privately to those locations, and we are getting asked about these services more and more, because we can provide quality of service and prioritize traffic based on the application," he said.

ADCom Solutions, a Norcross, Ga.-based solution provider and AT&T partner, agrees that solution providers can use their networking expertise to help businesses determine what they need to support a cloud deployment. Even if a solution provider or VAR doesn't have a cloud consulting business, technology partners are well-suited for conversations around planning to deploy cloud applications and where the application will reside, said Tim Tidwell, director of Technical Services for ADCom Solutions.

"Once you get past the how, why and where questions, you can get into specifics, like how much bandwidth is this app going to consume?" Tidwell said.

While ADCom focuses on networking and connectivity solutions, cloud consulting companies are coming to ADCom looking for help on the networking side to ensure that the customer will get the most from its cloud strategy, said Mike Champion, executive vice president of ADCom Solutions.

ADCom plans to start its own cloud consulting business to complement its networking services and offerings heading into next year, Champion said. "There's only a handful of companies that can handle the consulting and networking well, and that's going be a focus of ours in the coming year," he said.