Techaisle’s US SMB & Midmarket Orchestration, Integration & Automation study finds that use of multiple IT service delivery platforms – various forms of cloud, plus on-premise, colo-based and hosted infrastructure – increases the complexity associated with connecting, balancing and optimizing systems, and as a result, creates demand for automation and orchestration to ensure that these processes aren’t bottlenecked by requirements for operator intervention.
It seems intuitive that firms that are currently using hybrid cloud systems would register very high levels of use/interest in orchestration and automation tools. This is largely true. Roughly half of small businesses and two-thirds of midmarket firms are using or planning to use hybrid cloud. Two-thirds of small businesses and nearly 90% of midmarket firms using/planning use of hybrid consider orchestration tools to be “critical” or “very important.” Expanding the midmarket data survey shows that 20% of midmarket firms that use hybrid cloud systems say that orchestration tools are critical to deploying workloads on hybrid platforms and another 69% say orchestration tools are very important.
When analyzed by IT maturity data shows that nearly half of the Advanced IT group and two-thirds of the Enterprise IT group are already using hybrid cloud, with use projected to rise to/beyond 70% over the next 12 months. Despite these high current usage levels, though, Advanced and Enterprise IT users do not, for the most part, currently consider orchestration tools to be “critical” (less than one-quarter across the two segments), though they do classify orchestration as “very important.”
Techaisle also analyzed data by current digitalization strategy and cloud maturity level. “Holistic” firms (with organization-wide digital transformation strategy) are both much more likely to be using hybrid cloud today and to consider orchestration to be “critical;” these firms would appear to be good targets for SMB/Midmarket-focused orchestration campaigns. More than half of both “mature” and “born-in-the-cloud” firms are using hybrid today, with penetration expected to rise to 70%-80% over the next twelve months. Fully 40% of BITC and more than a quarter of “mature” cloud users also view orchestration as critical – making this another useful segmentation for marketers of orchestration tools looking at the SMB/Midmarket opportunity.
Automation and hybrid cloud workload management
Another perspective on the issue of hybrid cloud management is gained from a survey question that asked SMBs & midmarket firms currently using some form of cloud, “How do you ensure adequate performance and optimal resource use for hybrid workloads applications?” The question allowed for multiple responses, though some of the options provided (e.g., “manual – workloads and data are moved in accordance with set plans” and “workload and data migration are fully automated”) would seem to be mutually exclusive.
Data illustrates that SMBs using cloud generally use multiple different approaches to cloud workload management: the average is nearly two different responses per firm. For the most part, SMBs avoid a “set it and forget it” approach of assigning workloads to a specific set of resources. Instead, they are most likely to react to capacity alerts (“Workloads and data are moved in response to alerts that highlight capacity issues,” 54%) or make selective use of automation for workload management and data migration (44%); 38% report that they use manual processes to move workloads in accordance with set plans, while 36% state that workload and data migration are fully automated.
At various points in the survey – and in a companion channel survey conducted in roughly the same timeframe – Techaisle collected insights that are helpful to suppliers looking to identify the buyer and channel needs, gaps in current offerings and opportunities for differentiation.
There is a disconnect between user-demand and channel offering.
Surplus demand for integration, orchestration and automation of cloud and on-premise systems is likely to translate into buyer frustration, and into slower adoption of advanced cloud-based systems than might otherwise be the case. The data indicates a clear need for a combination of supplier guidance (to help partners avoid investment in unpromising areas) and support (to help them meet demand in high-growth opportunity areas).
As with disconnects in supply and demand of discrete services, mismatches between channel positioning as supporters of cloud adoption and customer focus on advanced services will become less pronounced over time, as the supplier community finds success in new integration-oriented service offerings. Techaisle believes that this transition signals a real opportunity for suppliers of orchestration/ automation tools. Orchestration can provide a programmatic bridge from a lack of core competency in cloud/on-premise and cloud/cloud integration to an ability to meet an expressed and growing need for integration support. Vendors who are able to ‘connect the dots’ between meeting demonstrable and accelerating demand for services and the channel’s desire to deliver replicable, high-margin, tools-based services should find success in attracting forward-looking partners to their ecosystems.
Meeting partner demand
What core activities are required to attract and develop key partners? Techaisle’s research shows that the top four ‘asks’ are incentives, advisory services, support and training – including insight on cloud orchestration. This guidance offers particular promise to vendors focused on orchestration. All suppliers need to ensure that their incentives, support and training are competitive and consistent with partner expectations and requirements. Not all, though, are positioned to support demand for advisory services focused on advanced topics like orchestration and automation. Techaisle sees vendors in the orchestration market as positioned to engage leading-edge partners. Those that deliver advisory services that enable market allies to develop long-term, roadmap-driven relationships with key customers will be able to establish leadership and momentum in an increasingly hybrid-dependent SMB market.
Research You Can Rely On | Analysis You Can Act Upon