Key takeaways from Cloud Expo 2017
For the last six years, we've exhibited at the annual Cloud Expo exhibition in London. It's always been an extremely valuable chance to meet with existing and potential new customers, as well as our friends and partners across the industry.
This year's Expo was the largest to date and the event also saw audiences drawn in from four other simultaneous and collocated events at the London ExCEL centre on 21-22 March: Data Centre World, Smart IoT London, Big Data World and Cloud Security Expo.
Meeting people at the stand and answering questions also gives us a key barometer reading of trends in the industry; what customers need most and the fresh challenges we'll need to meet in the future.
Let's break it down.
Mainstream as ever
Every time we go to Cloud Expo, we remark that the mix of people coming to the stand grows wider. For organisations today, the choice isn't 'should we choose to go to the cloud?' Rather, it's 'which cloud', 'what's the strategy' and 'how soon'? Adoptions stats released by the Cloud Industry Forum at the show revealed that in 2017, 88 per cent of respondents worked for organisations that made use of cloud-based services.
The types and job titles of the people we're talking to are widening, too – as are the sizes of the companies they're working with. In early days of this show, we'd mainly be approached by infrastructure experts. Now, the range has widened considerably to include people in roles that range between security leaders, IT managers, heads of lines of business and compliance managers, and every size of company from start-ups to NGOs to multinationals.
All in the mix
In some ways, multicloud has existed almost from the start of the technology's inception. Organisations created official arrangements with companies like ours for storage and certain workloads. But then there were other, sometimes unrecorded, applications and business units doing their own thing. People and departments needed this infrastructure for their own particular needs. Again, the Cloud Industry Forum figures tell us the average organisation uses three different cloud services - and, as we know from experience, some organisations use many more.
In the cloud mix, we continue to see the private cloud continue to play an important role in organisations’ IT strategy. This isn’t only driven by the usual security and compliance concerns, but – for organisations with reasonably predictable workloads – private is often the more cost-effective option.
All these factors mean that many organisations arrived at multicloud deployments quite organically. The change happening to those arrangements now is they are starting to be formalised and planned, as organisations realise this is the new normal. So the people we spoke to are seeking to harmonise or simplify their cloud management, to obtain a cohesive end-to-end experience across multiple environments and are looking to partners like Navisite to make that possible.
Take the pain
We received a lot of enquiries about how we might take some of the complexity out of these multicloud and hybrid cloud environments.
Multicloud has the potential to greatly increase demands upon sys admins and IT managers. We're delighted to be at the forefront of companies that are striving to help plan, centralise, simplify and manage workloads and environments across private and public deployments, working as close technology partners with other providers like VMware and Microsoft. We see continued and increasing demand for the management of cloud services – including everything from migration and on-boarding to security and compliance – as organisations seek to free their own resources from the management overhead.
Partnering for progress
At Cloud Expo this year, we were delighted to bring along expert partners and their solutions to our stand from companies, such as Alert Logic, CommVault, Microsoft and VMware. An increasing trend towards partnership, collaboration and co-operation is an industry-wide movement, and one we saw mirrored on competitors' stands, too.
Customer requirements are driving this need for collaboration: we're seeing particular interest this year in managed Office 365 and in our managed cloud services around these cloud-based productivity tools. Many organisations wish to move to Office 365, and are looking to partner with managed service providers, with the solution-specific skills and knowledge required to get there.
Is cloud still a category?
As we've mentioned, cloud is thoroughly mainstream now. The collocation of five different, but related, IT events in the same location and time was definitely a good idea. There's a lot of crossover, especially with the cloud security and data centre exhibition audiences, so customers and other interested parties could get access to a very large number of vendors in their fields within a single event. I think there'll both be a continued need for dedicated cloud events for a while, and that they’ll continue to grow, but maybe this model of simultaneous collocation will become more the norm.
As always, many thanks to everyone who came to the stand. It was great to have the opportunity to say 'hello' and we hope to talk again soon.