Cloud services reach new heights with strategic partnerships

24 June 2020 | Ignatius Wong, Director, Product Management (Hybrid Cloud & IT Solutions), CenturyLink Asia Pacific
If the past few months have taught us anything about working efficiently through challenges, it is how indispensable cloud services really are at enhancing our ability to stay productive. Whether it is shared access to documents to availability of IT resources, cloud computing continues to be the cornerstone to digital transformation and conduit to people, process and technology. 
Cloud continues to be one of the fastest-growing segments of IT spend and is integral to modernizing the IT environment.
 

Cloud computing has rapidly proliferated enterprise IT and been firmly established as a business-critical deployment; in fact, cloud continues to be one of the fastest-growing segments of IT spend1 and is integral to modernizing the IT environment. Cloud services are certainly more in the spotlight now than ever before with heavy reliance by a remote workforce for collaboration, storage, archiving, streaming, and a number of other workloads performed virtually. Many digitally-forward companies – such as Zoom, Netflix, Grab, Uber, and Shopify – would not be able to operate, let alone exist if not for the cloud. The same is true for vital services such as home-based learning and connecting emergency healthcare facilities. Such has been the surge in demand for cloud services, that China’s Alibaba has announced an investment of over US$28 billion over the next three years2 on cloud infrastructure and related technologies. 

Although businesses have had to quickly make provisions for remote working and adjusting to big changes brought about by COVID-19, there are most certainly priorities that would remain top of mind regardless. Cybersecurity, customer experience, improving responsiveness, employee engagement are just some examples and these too continue to be driven by the cloud. We have also seen increased interest among our customers for virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solutions to support their workers remotely. Hardware delivery cycles are now uncertain and lengthy due to supply chain issues and movement restrictions and as such, new digital models with quick implementation have evolved. We continue to work with hyperscalers to enable VDIs so remote workers can access their work environments from any device for a consistent, productive experience.  

It is no longer enough for cloud providers to only enable the service or deliver the resources, a rich channel and alliance ecosystem is proving to be a major differentiator in getting closer to customer needs and helping to truly achieve scale that is required for growth and accelerated digital transformation.  

Strategic cloud alliances strengthen offering

More enterprises are opting for a multi-cloud strategy, an approach that’s gaining momentum in the digital enterprise for running applications and workloads across public and private clouds from multiple providers. Multi-cloud deployments, which also include hybrid cloud comprising a mix of on-premise and public cloud, are popular for fulfilling a wide spectrum of business requirements, where a single provider is unlikely to provide them all. 
Multi-cloud and hybrid cloud will most certainly be the norm in most enterprises.
 

Multi-cloud and hybrid cloud will most certainly be the norm in most enterprises as customers adopt best-of-breed solutions, but they can be complex to manage. Tools such as CenturyLink’s Cloud Application Manager help to orchestrate site deployments and deliver applications and services across multiple clouds for organizations such as Cytobank.

To build on cloud productivity and derive greater value from a customer experience perspective, vendors are increasingly turning to strategic partnerships to strengthen offerings. Furthermore, cloud partnerships with service providers will enable vendors to fully unlock the potential of public and private cloud hosting or a hybrid solution, with the benefits of combing in-house and third-party expertise for more bespoke solutions to customers. According to Canalys3, the trend for operating more applications in public cloud environments is expected to continue and organizations will use the advantage of unlimited access to capacity to accelerate digital development with AI and analytics. 

VIDEO: Find out how your digital business can prepare for multi-cloud success with CenturyLink Cloud Application Manager
Strategic cloud alliances can benefit organizations in several ways: help sustain growth and geographic reach, derive more value from data for improved decision-making, speed up productivity by helping deploy tools and APIs faster, reduce costs and time-to-market and create more personalized customer experiences. Forrester has also predicted that the hyperscale global public cloud leaders will form more alliances while refocusing on their core strengths4. Hardly surprising as with technology constantly evolving, no single vendor can keep pace and deliver tailored solutions that would focus on the customer’s business needs and changing end-user consumption.

Creating new opportunities for industry cloud solutions 

Organizations are also looking for more choice incorporating private clouds in their multi-cloud deployments and this was a key reason technology solutions company Ingram Micro turned to CenturyLink to fill a gap in its services portfolio. The CenturyLink Private Cloud, built on VMware Cloud Foundation™ and HPE servers, provided the required solution for Ingram Micro customers – managed services providers (MSPs) that in turn sell to end-user organizations. Similarly, independent oil and gas services company, Apergy chose CenturyLink cloud services to build infrastructure as an independent business that had spun off from industrial conglomerate Dover Corporation. As a Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) partner, we were able to meet urgent migration timelines and enabled the newly-formed Apergy to stand on its own with minimal business interruption and no data loss. Customers can also be assured of our comprehensive security and compliance frameworks that protect enterprise systems and data. We work closely with our customers to understand their unique compliance needs and develop a customized plan that matches both their unique business priorities and regulations necessary to achieve the desired compliance posture.
In another example of “strength in numbers”, one successful retailer saw an opportunity to expand its footprint in the luxury segment by acquiring other complementary brands; this resulted in two new luxury retailers joining the first one and of course, integration issues, particularly for their ERP systems were a major consideration. CenturyLink consultants have a long history in retail and a strong relationship with SAP as a platinum partner. With the project organized by CenturyLink in three phases, the goals included consolidating all processes into a single system. 

IDC5 has also emphasized that as cloud services become core to enterprises, the IT environments they operate in grow more complex – multiple public cloud, private cloud, and traditional systems requires to be interconnected, integrated, and collectively managed. Coupled with the relatively low skills in APEJ to manage cloud implementation across private and public cloud, the situation is forcing enterprises to seek for a managed cloud services deployment model to help them effectively manage and optimize their on- and off-premises cloud.

Previously, one of our biggest announcements of 2019 was the expansion of Cloud Connect Dynamic Connections to Microsoft Azure, directly connecting to about 70% of the desired destinations for all public cloud market users. The solution dynamically adds and deletes connections between data centers and cloud providers in real time, providing control and flexibility needed to better manage operational expenses. This is not merely a two-way alliance but benefits indirect partners too including VARs and system integrators, to help customers manage migration of workloads into the public cloud and create secure private connections.

These relationships give us the ability to leverage their expertise and knowledge to develop our leading IT infrastructure and services and build a cloud foundation that grows with your business. 

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Partnering for customer benefits

Strategic cloud alliances are helping fuel digital transformation progress and support global customers with their migration.

Given all the workplace challenges we may be facing now, the focus on data security, cost-savings, and mitigating business loss will be further compounded. Likewise, strategic cloud partnerships enable vendors to offer services and expertise in market segments and geographies where they don’t currently have a presence. Customer success is built on collaboration and the technology market depends on interoperability in systems, hardware, and cloud. We continue to help our partners develop integrated solutions and strengthen capabilities across the value chain. 

Keen to become a partner?

1 Christy Pettey,‘Cloud Shift Impacts All IT Markets’, Jan. 29, 2019, Gartner 
2 Arjun Kharpal, ‘China’s Alibaba to invest $28.2 billion in cloud infrastructure as it battles Amazon, Microsoft,’ Apr. 20, 2020, CNBC
3 Press release, ‘Cloud infrastructure services spend up 37% in Q4 2019 to top US $107 billion for the full year’, Feb. 4, 2020, Canalys
4 Dave Bartoletti, ‘Predictions 2020: Cloud Computing Sees New Alliances And New Security Concerns’, Nov. 4, 2019, Forrester
5 Chris Morris, William Lee, Daphne Chung, Nigel Parsons, Prabhitha Sheethal Dcruz, IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Cloud 2020 Prediction – APEJ Implications, Jan. 2020

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