The Public Cloud Landscape And Advice For Adopting At Scale

Things are rather sporty in the public cloud integration and managed services ecosystem. It is increasingly evident that this is a hot space, and we are presently witnessing significant momentum and change as more businesses require support with public cloud adoption.

Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform and Alibaba have steadily emerged as the major infrastructure providers, and the ecosystem of companies supporting and providing expertise around them has exploded in return.

Just glancing at the March 2017 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Public Cloud Managed Infrastructure Providers, most of the organisations included have been impacted by some degree of M&A activity, and the pace does not seem to be slowing down.

Who are the biggest players?

Private Equity firms are investing heavily. I predict continued acquisition activity among the smaller specialised systems integrators (SIs) that are influential players, but not included in the quadrant.

I also expect increasing consolidation and growth in the Global SI space, as the leaders expand their market share and expertise, and competitors begin to throw serious resources into the mix.

There was recent activity between two of the largest competitors in the space that will create significant waves.

Finally, hardware resellers and traditional colocation providers are now entering to serve their client base and remain relevant. To say that the market is becoming saturated is an understatement.

The impact of public cloud

For companies seeking cloud adoption, integration and/or managed services partners, all of this is both a wonderful yet potentially confusing development. For those like myself, who are competing in this market, it is challenging and at times daunting.

The one constant for everyone is change. If we fail to adapt and continuously innovate, we will become irrelevant quickly, and the revolution cycles are only compressing in time.

With all the activity, momentum, and choices, below are points which I consistently consider in regards to my own potential clients, and the offerings that can support their initiatives.

Fundamentals for successful adoption

It is of paramount importance for an organisation to define unique business drivers and use cases for adopting cloud. Executive leadership commitment to a cloud-first strategy is critical. Organisations should honestly assess the level of talent, skills and experience, and begin to develop operational plans for supporting a new method of delivering IT.

Adopting cloud successfully should disrupt the old way of doing things, and the potential impacts on culture need to be considered. Finally, a credible TCO / ROI analysis should be performed to justify and define expectations.

Adopting at scale with partners

Organisations will typically consider leveraging partners once they make the decision to go cloud-first. Selection of a partner will ultimately be dependent upon the fit with an organisation’s strategy, methodology, and which phase of adoption they are in.

The scope of a partner’s involvement can range drastically from full outsource, to primarily DIY with strategic augmentation. Most partner organisations provide services and offerings based around 5 or 6 defined phases of adoption. While some partners support the entire adoption lifecycle, others focus on specific areas.

It is important to identify which activities are of most importance when selecting a partner, as experience and expertise vary greatly. Successfully comparing "apples to apples" across competing offerings can be a challenge, but will greatly assist in determining the real impact to TCO/ROI of deploying a particular service or engagement. While difficult to quantify, intangible benefits of services should absolutely be considered, as well as the opportunity cost of delayed or failed adoption.


The cloud landscape changes daily, and is fuelled by innovation. Partners therefore should also be innovative. Research should be conducted to understand where investments are being made to serve future needs such as automation, big data, machine learning, containerization, serverless, DevOps, CI/CD. It is likely that many of the services that are critical today will be automated within two years, so choosing a forward thinking partner is crucial.

Final thoughts

M&A activity has the potential to greatly impact an organisation, particularly in regards to morale. Things can go south quickly and the effects are exacerbated in the high touch arena of consulting and managed services. Closely observe thought leadership and top talent movement post merger.

It is also worth evaluating a partner’s revenue mix, especially if they are already a vendor. Adopting cloud at scale should greatly change consumption models, lowering costs in many instances. It is worth understanding the impact to the partner if adoption is performed efficiently.

Stay Nimble!

Patrick Barnett speaking at AWS event

Disclaimer: I presently work for one of the providers in this space. While certainly biased, I am attempting to provide my individual thoughts and observations from a neutral perspective, having 10+ years experience working with Enterprise Organisations around their infrastructure strategies. I have supported disaster recovery, colocation, traditional managed services, private cloud, hybrid cloud and now 100% hyperscale public cloud over that time. I hope that my observations will benefit organisations looking to adopt public cloud, as well as professionals who work or desire to work in the space.
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