MSPs, especially, have a lot of new ways to help customers navigate ongoing uncertainty.

Kelly Teal, Contributing Editor

July 17, 2020

10 Min Read
Running on Track

After a second quarter slowed by COVID-19 shutdowns, Google Cloud and VMware Cloud led the market this week with major updates for the channel. The third quarter promises to hold more such activity in store for partners compared to the previous three months, despite the ongoing pandemic. Like everyone else, cloud vendors spent much of the second quarter adjusting to the new nature of business. And the show must go on.

Thus, while many of the product releases showcased this week were in development even before COVID, they are prescient. They offer managed service providers, VARs and other partners the ability to help customers better navigate ongoing uncertainty, and support remote work, which no longer looks like just a temporary option.

Google Cloud’s Goal: ‘Emerging Strongly from the Pandemic’

Over at Google Cloud, MSPs and other partners kicked off Tuesday with the first in a series of digital events over the next nine weeks. Google Cloud had to mothball its annual in-person Google Cloud Next event, then also canceled the intended web replacement, because of COVID. Yet even as the coronavirus proves its tenacity, business must continue. And that means adapting to change.

Sundar Pichai is CEO of Google and Alphabet.


Google’s Sundar Pichai

“It’s clear we are returning to a world much different than the one we left,” said Pichai.

That said, he added, it still is too early to understand the exact nature of all the shifts. However, Google and Google Cloud have spotted three key trends that look to last long-term, Pichai said. They are:

  • The future of work will be more digital. Partners can expect to help customers increase their cloud investment.

  • The future of work will be more collaborative. Companies will spend more money to create a sense of virtual community among their employees.

  • The future of work will be more flexible. COVID-fueled work-from-home has shown employers what many staff already knew: Employees can be productive from anywhere, often at any time. “You don’t have to be at your desk to get work done,” Pichai said.

Each of those components will fuel reliance on the cloud, Pinchai said. For partners, that spells opportunity. And Google Cloud unveiled a slate of new capabilities and platforms to help them meet the demand.


Google Cloud’s Thomas Kurian

“We’re helping organizations reimagine their missions as they re-emerge from the pandemic,” said Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google Cloud.

To that point, check out what Google Cloud debuted on Tuesday:

BigQuery Omni for Multicloud Analytics Powered by Anthos

MSPs are expressing excitement about this one. Miles Ward, CTO at SADA, Google Cloud’s 2019 global reseller partner, called the product “a game changer” for enterprises. Plus, he told Channel Futures, the addition of BigQuery Omni sends “a clear signal about where Anthos is headed: GCP-based solutions everywhere.”

Sumeet Singh, who heads up technology at Maven Wave, Google Cloud’s 2019 services partner of the year, agreed.

“Anthos’ far-reaching vision is starting to take shape,” he told Channel Futures. “Google’s innovation in platform services is now becoming available anywhere and everywhere. The ability to run BigQuery on other clouds and in our data centers is going to radically open up new possibilities.”

Brad Foster, who leads the apps and data group at Maven Wave, made a similar observation.

“Bringing the power of BigQuery to where data resides shows that Google is …

… really trying to meet customers where they are,” Foster told Channel Futures. “We think it’s going to be a popular solution.”

Confidential VMs and Assured Workloads for Government

Confidential VMs mark the first release in Google Cloud’s Confidential Computing portfolio. Kurian said the product will remove the barriers to cloud adoptions that organizations in highly regulated industries come up against.

“Data is encrypted at rest and transit, and also while being processed,” Kurian said. Assured Workloads, meanwhile, target U.S. government agencies, suppliers and contractors.

Once again, top Google Cloud partners predict success with the new platforms.

“Confidential Computing and Assured Workloads unlock whole new categories of customers for SADA and Google Cloud,” SADA’s Ward said.

Singh concurred.

“Google has innovated yet again and led the conversation in standardizing security concerns,” he said. “This announcement is a big step toward much-needed privacy controls in this world of open communication. … It’s great to see this progress in the industry.”

Catching Up With Other Google Cloud Advancements

In addition to the product launches, Kurian gave an overview of Google Cloud’s other recent progress. For example, Google Cloud now boasts 24 data center regions – four of which have gone live in 2020 – and 73 zones. Last month, the company expanded its bare metal cloud computing platform. It also has beefed up its machine learning and integrated Google Meetings and chat into Gmail for easier collaboration. Finally, Google Cloud just launched AI-powered cloud contact center at Verizon to improve customer support.

To support all of these initiatives, Kurian said Google Cloud is:

  • Expanding and specializing its global sales teams.

  • Introducing 15-minute response times on “mission-critical” support.

  • Expanding the global partner network.

  • Introducing Google Cloud Customer Community to let customers learn from one another, and provide feedback to Google Cloud.

  • Expanding the virtual learning and certification curriculum.

  • Expanding global developer programs.

The overarching goal? “Emerging strongly from the pandemic,” Kurian said.

Meanwhile, Over at VMware Cloud …

VMware Cloud, too, is on a roll this quarter. Earlier this week, the vendor took the wraps off its new capabilities for Amazon Web Services. The private and public cloud providers, respectively, have been working together since 2017, and three of the platforms introduced this week really stand out for partners.

The first is the new two-host production cluster, which VMware says can reduce starting costs by 33%. That’s because the platform provides a smaller minimum environment for production workloads. MSPs then can get midmarket and commercial customers’ VMware Cloud on AWS services off the ground for much less expense than …

… a three-host cluster.

“I am particularly excited about the two-node capability,” Andre Wu, vice president of solutions and services and MSP RoundTower, told Channel Futures.

He said the setup allows RoundTower to address three key focus areas:

  • Overall client adoption. “With two nodes, it’s much easier to seed an environment and target some niche use cases and workloads,” Wu said. “Based on our experience, consumption only expands once the solution is landed.”

  • Targeting the commercial space. “The lower price entry point will only accelerate our ability to drive this offering into our commercial clients.”

  • Reduced churn for funding programs. “Both VMware and AWS have been very aggressive in their funding programs to support logo expansion for this solution,” Wu said. “By reducing the cost of entry and therefore the hurdles to fund and justify POCs, etc., this will help streamline our sales motion and drive business growth.”

Matt Wallace, CTO of MSP Faction, agreed, calling the two-node capability “great for certain customers as it allows them to maintain an always-on VMware Cloud environment at a significantly lower cost.”

i3en.metal Instance

This new host type, based on Intel’s second-generation Xeon scalable processors, accommodates storage-dense workloads with high performance demands.

For RoundTower, this offering, alongside the two-host cluster, “will enable us to optimize the architecture and design which will directly translate into a more competitive offering from a price and operational support perspective,” Wu said.

Faction’s Wallace called the i3en.metal product “significant.”

“Almost all of Faction’s VMware Cloud customers take advantage of our cloud data services integration with VMware Cloud to use our cloud control volumes to add additional datastores to VMware Cloud on AWS,” he said. “Although we expect to still leverage that capability for almost all disaster-recovery environments, as well as many storage-heavy production environments, this will help many customers tune their VMware Cloud environment for their use cases.”

VMware cloud says the i3en.metal solution delivers four times the raw storage capacity at 48% the cost per GB of storage per host compared to i3. It also features low latency and native encryption.

The Big Kahuna: Multitenancy on VMware Cloud Director

Finally, VMware Cloud has brought a big change to Cloud Director: multitenancy, or the ability to service five to 10 times more customers without additional upfront costs.

“This has been something our partners have been asking for for a while now,” Mark Lohmeyer, senior vice president and general manager for VMware’s cloud platform business unit, wrote in a July 14 briefing with media. “We think it really is going to hit a sweet spot in the market for them.”

Shawn Toldo, vice president of VMware’s worldwide partner organization, agreed.

“This is something we’ve been waiting on for a long time for the partner channel,” Toldo told Channel Futures. “Being able to expand out Cloud Director service’s capability into a new solution that is multitenant is huge.”

In other words, partners now can pitch VMware Cloud on AWS services at affordable prices to notoriously price-conscious SMBs and midmarket firms. They also may deliver the services with their own branding and packaging.

“This is an opportunity to expand MSP services at scale into different sectors,” Toldo said. “The entry point from a dollar perspective is much more advantageous, which also leads to speed to value. And the expansion scenario is much easier for partners to snap into.”

Similarly, Toldo added, “when thinking about the two-host scenario with multitenancy managed through Cloud Director services, I suddenly can create a …

… solution set and extend it to 20, 40, 60 customers much more rapidly than I ever could have before.”

Also Good to Know: Expanded Networking, Tanzu Kubernetes

VMware further has bolstered other areas of its practice that will benefit partners. For example, it now has more networking options. In essence, MSPs have better tools for designing and deploying customer networks because the cloud side works with VeloCloud’s SD-WAN product.

This is a big deal, Wallace noted. Optimizing enterprise networks gets complex “when you factor in VMware Cloud, public cloud and, often, multiple remote locations that clients want to stitch together into a single fabric,” he said. “These and other features really help us broaden the reach of VMware Cloud on AWS and help expand the use cases we can tackle.”

VMware also is supporting cloud-native infrastructure with its Tanzu Kubernetes Grid. This lets organizations (or their MSPs) build and managed containerized applications on VMware Cloud on AWS. This, in particular, “continues to show VMware’s commitment to supporting cloud-native workloads and development practices,” Faction’s Wallace said.

Imbuing the Channel With ‘Confidence and Trust’

On the whole, Toldo said, “there is something about VMware and AWS and bringing these leaders in the public and private cloud space into one area that should give the channel confidence and trust.”

RoundTower and Faction represent just two of VMware Cloud’s MSPs looking forward to implementing and taking advantage of the latest improvements.

“We are very excited about the new capabilities,” RoundTower’s Wu said. “As early investors …we’ve seen firsthand where these new capabilities will directly resolve challenges and inhibitors we’ve faced in the past in positioning VMware Cloud on AWS.”

Faction’s Wallace said much the same.

“VMware Cloud on AWS is an amazing capability if you are an asset-light service provider with VMware expertise. It offers a chance to build robust, cloud-scale services, and there are interesting opportunities to differentiate and integrate, due to the diversity of the AWS services ecosystem. The geographic reach, the scale, and the automation offer an incredible platform for even smaller providers to solve big problems.”

And VMware Cloud partners can expect extensive support from the vendor throughout the journey. Told said VMware is beefing up self-services materials on the Partner Connect portal, as well as assigning field employees to go work with partners.

VMware customers now can port their workloads directly to AWS in 17 regions across the globe.

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About the Author(s)

Kelly Teal

Contributing Editor, Channel Futures

Kelly Teal has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist, editor and analyst, with longtime expertise in the indirect channel. She worked on the Channel Partners magazine staff for 11 years. Kelly now is principal of Kreativ Energy LLC.

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