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How the Channel Can Get Its Piece of the 'Unclouding' Pie

Got customers with a case of IaaS regret? The answer might be to help them move workloads back on premises.

April 5, 2018

4 Min Read
Cloud Pie


Paul Brodie

By Paul Brodie, VP, Global OEM and Channel Sales, Virtual Instruments

When companies move customer-facing applications to the cloud, they go into it with high hopes that the services are suited to cloud hosting. Inevitably, some of those well-suited applications will, for various reasons, turn out to be not so ideal for the public cloud. That has led to the growth of reverse cloud migration, often called “cloud repatriation” or “unclouding.”

Unclouding refers to the practice by which enterprises pull certain applications or workloads from the cloud and deploy them on-premises or in a colocation facility. Maybe IT determined that an app or workload is better managed internally, or maybe costs were higher than expected. Applications that require guaranteed performance, scalability, reliability, security or certain cost parameters are candidates for repatriation.

This is encouraging for VARs, given that one of the greatest barriers to the growth of their hardware resale businesses is the public cloud. Hyperscale providers – Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure – have become one-stop shops for companies looking to get rid of hardware. Unfortunately for customers, public clouds often can’t match the performance/latency SLAs they got with their own facilities or a local colo.

Still, the lure of lower costs, at least for a while, is tough to resist. The Big 3 IaaS providers’ only direct competitors are one another.

The good news for VARs is that you might have a new, fertile opportunity to provide workload migration services, managed hosting services with performance SLAs, and even cloud gateway devices to disillusioned customers. With hyperconvergence enabling hybrid-, multi- and private-cloud solutions, you can help customers bring their data in-house, get cloud-like functionality, and get their costs under control. Hyperconvergence removes the struggle organizations face trying to achieve deep integration between cloud workloads and their on-premises legacy applications and data.

A New Channel Opportunity?

How prevalent is unclouding? It’s been scarcely two years since I heard channel partners start reporting that customers had begun to repatriate workloads, and today the pace is faster — even as, ironically, enterprises are moving workloads to the cloud at an ever-greater clip.

Does the growth of unclouding present a long-term market opportunity for channel partners? Recent history would say yes. As the unclouding trend grows, channel partners remain in prime position to sell or resell more on-premises equipment and their own hosting services to enterprises that are pulling mission-critical apps back from the public cloud.

But there’s more in the deal for channel partners, as they can also offer workload-placement services. That simply means helping customers determine where to best place their applications and workloads, a determination that comes down to some combination of …

… cost, performance, latency, uptime, security or other requirements. According to some industry analysts, the top three issues that workload placement services address are:

  • Performance, which varies for several reasons, but can be severely impacted by bursty applications.

  • Latency reports are based on up to five-minute polling averages, which can mean that application problems go undetected.

  • Service continuity, critical across applications and industries, but even a minor bottleneck can be perceived as – and have the same effect as – an outage.

Of course, enterprises that bring apps back on premises also benefit from local control over those apps, as well as the ability to better define SLAs.

Channel partners also now have the opportunity to offer enterprise-class hosting services. By including real-time performance and availability monitoring and holistic infrastructure visibility in the context of the customer’s applications, these provider partners can offer premium services that can be a better alternative to both public cloud and on-premises deployments.

It’s the VAR’s way of saying, “Move to the public cloud, as long as it makes sense, and we’ll be there to smooth the move — or to help you uncloud when you need to find a better way.”

Paul Brodie is a senior sales and business development executive who heads up global OEM and channel sales at Virtual Instruments. Paul joined Virtual Instruments in 2017 to support and enable its partners to drive new sales opportunities across the globe. He is responsible for partner recruitment, enablement, program management and sales development. Before joining the company, he spent 13 years at Brocade in a variety of senior leadership roles driving OEM and system integrator sales initiatives.

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