Cloud computing has been the standout trend in the business technology sector for the past decade, with buyers embracing its flexibility for how they deploy and manage computing workloads.
But while attention has tended to focus on the rapid growth of public cloud services, the reality for most business users is that their cloud environments will consist of a mix of on-premises and off-premises solutions, usually referred to as a hybrid cloud.
According to 451 Research, the global hybrid cloud market reached a value of US$52 billion in 2020, with 82 per cent of organisations pursuing a hybrid strategy. Various industry reports suggest users’ interest in hybrid clouds is being fuelled by their need to better manage costs and retain greater control over their data and applications, especially where they reside and how they are secured.
By opting for a hybrid model, users can maintain full control over sensitive workloads and data while retaining the option of using additional external cloud services when economics and user demands dictate.
However, regardless of what model they are using, cloud migration is still a challenging process for most organisations, who will need help and guidance as they build their environments.
This is good news for any channel organisation with the appetite to build out a hybrid cloud service offering – especially for those that have traditionally built their business around on-premises hardware sales and support.
Building a hybrid cloud offering can deliver numerous benefits for channel partners such as:
Developing a hybrid cloud capability can both help maintain existing hardware sales revenue and act as a defensive strategy to offset any loss of business that may arise as clients move workloads to public cloud services.
Because while many customers might be undecided about exactly what configuration their cloud will take, their future environment will inevitably look very different to the one they are operating today.
Therefore it is vital the channel partners be investing now to ensure they are in the right place to service their customers future workloads, wherever they might land.
Lenovo has paid close attention to the emerging hybrid cloud trend and responded with a new service offering for partners that makes it easy for them to build out their hybrid cloud future.
At the heart of this strategy is the Lenovo Cloud Marketplace (LCM), which provides a one-stop shop for a wide range of cloud software subscriptions and services from Lenovo and cloud partners, built around the Microsoft Azure Services and Azure Stack HCI. This enables customers to quickly deploy on-premises using the Lenovo ThinkAgile MX platform while easily connecting to services running in the Microsoft Azure public cloud.
According to the Microsoft Azure Lead for ANZ & APAC, Rajeeb Adnan, the new offering provides a strong revenue generation play for partners, especially those that have noted a movement of revenue away from hardware sales towards other cloud-focused partners.
“They are asking us how they can tap into that revenue for themselves,” Adnan says. “Now they can, and if they don’t have the skills to talk to their customers about cloud and how to deliver these services, Lenovo can be their partner.”
Adnan says Lenovo will also work alongside partners to support them through the sales process and will invest to develop their skills to take on more opportunities.
The Lenovo Cloud Marketplace gives partners access to annual and multiyear subscriptions offerings for Microsoft Windows Server, SQL Server, Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365 software, along with more than 1800 Azure services from Microsoft and its partners that are available via monthly subscriptions.
The marketplace also gives partners simplified invoicing capabilities with full reporting, including the ability to manage multi-licence customer invoices from the one platform.
Those organisations that already are Microsoft CSP (Direct / Indirect) can still benefit by leveraging Lenovo’s extensive service offerings, together with the ability to bundle technology and software licencing for customers while providing them with a single point of contact.
“A partner can tap into Lenovo direct resources from us, plus they can tap into Microsoft direct resources,” Adnan says. “And who can talk end-to-end, from the edge to the data centre to the cloud.”
Partners can also use Lenovo’s 24/7 Microsoft support contract, which offers response times of less than two hours for Lenovo, and expedited response from Microsoft.
Furthermore, partners can white label the Lenovo Cloud Marketplace and offer it to customers under their own branding.
“And a lot of partners at this moment won’t have service capabilities, so if their customer is asking for managed services or implementation services, then they can utilise Lenovo implementations services and Lenovo managed services and white label those to sell to their customer,” Adnan says.
And finally, partners that are accepted into to the program gain immediate access to a $30,000 line of credit from Lenovo, and gain access to Lenovo’s extensive financial services support for larger deals.
And like the cloud model that it services, Adnan says signing up to Lenovo’s hybrid cloud offering requires zero commitment on behalf of partners.
“As long as a partner is on-boarded to the marketplace, which takes around two weeks, then they can purchase from us and have access to all of the Lenovo resources,” he says.
Ultimately this new offering from Lenovo gives partners the opportunity to generate additional revenue through sale of Microsoft Azure and associated licences while tapping into broader cloud software and services revenue.
One partner that has already taken advantage of this opportunity is the Queensland-based Dynamic Cloud specialists invise.
The company’s managing director Damien Harrison says invise was founded to assist its clients to design, build and operate dynamic cloud solutions, and he was attracted to the Lenovo offer as it aligned two of his company’s key suppliers.
“We are very much a Microsoft-centric business, so to see our traditional hardware partner so strongly partnered with Microsoft made it an easy decision for us to build our core Go To Market around as it provides genuine value for our clients,” Damien says.
He believes the partnership also brings strength to his vision of creating true hybrid clouds, where integration of on-premises and off-premises environments is achieved at the application and service layers, rather than within the network.
“We have a very big focus in the modern apps world, and for us, the hybrid cloud – extending the infrastructure on-premises into the flexibility of public cloud – is a key element of that,” Damien says. “This relationship gives us an end-to-end supportable solutions where we can scale with the our clients.
“We can give them a true hybrid cloud experience that has end-to-end operational and monitoring integration.”
Creation of the Lenovo Cloud Marketplace also provides invise with a portal that its customers can use to source and consume additional services on demand.
“Bringing that to the forefront from a commercial IT services perspective was really attractive for us,” Damien says. “People want to be able to see their pricing structures, have their discounts locked in, have their services locked in, and consume when they need it.
“And we see value in us being able to package up and provide services either in partnership with Lenovo or directly through our own portal. It’s a key part of our strategy moving forward.”
For invise, which has been built as a cloud-first business, the new relationship represents the fulfillment of a wish to see its suppliers coming together for the benefit of its customers.
But the Lenovo Cloud Marketplace and support program also provides an ideal opportunity for older partners that have come to appreciate the magnitude of the hybrid cloud market as customers continue their migrations.
By supporting customers on their hybrid cloud journey, Lenovo partners can generate new annuity revenue streams in the short term from software licencing, while setting themselves on the path to long term growth by creating additional hybrid cloud service capabilities while forging more meaningful, ongoing relationships with customers.