Dell Technologies is pressing ahead with plans to “win in the data centre” across Australia and New Zealand (A/NZ), armed by a skilled up partner ecosystem and enhanced portfolio of infrastructure solutions.
As the local market returns to some degree of normality - aided by gradual post-pandemic progress - the technology giant is targeting customers embarking on enterprise-grade modernisation plans as application workloads move into focus.
Supporting such efforts is a channel bolstered by increased certification levels and an infrastructure market in acceleration mode, with Australia alone forecasting double-digit server and storage growth of 11.3 per cent during the months ahead.
“Our aim is to win in the data centre,” outlined Shant Soghomonian, senior director and general manager of Channel Sales across A/NZ at Dell. “The market is coming back from a difficult year of paused projects in the data centre space, caused by the initial shock of the pandemic. Customers had to figure out how to facilitate remote working and learning which naturally became the priority.
“But during the second half of 2020 those data centre projects came back on the table and are continuing to increase. Partners are playing a critical role in this space as customers start to modernise and consolidate infrastructure.”
According to EDGE Research commissioned by ARN and Reseller News - and delivered in partnership with Tech Research Asia - technology modernisation ranks as the leading most relevant IT activity supporting local business priorities in 2021. This is followed by a commitment to keep current IT environments running, alongside enhancing security, governance, risk and compliance capabilities.
Within this context, environments currently in use across the market span on-premises (48 per cent), public cloud (45 per cent), private cloud (41 per cent) and co-location (27 per cent). Delving deeper, workloads are currently sitting between on-premises (40 per cent), public cloud (25 per cent) and co-location / private cloud (25 per cent) environments.
“Public cloud deployments increased during the pandemic because customers wanted capacity on demand from hyperscalers,” explained Soghomonian, when speaking to ARN. “This has fast tracked complexity levels with customers now having workloads and applications here and there, creating a need to modernise on-premises infrastructure to become faster, cheaper, more automated and more secure.”
Such observations are supported further by EDGE Research, with 62 per cent of customers currently unaware of how many applications are running within the organisation, with 90 per cent in agreement that modernising applications represents an “urgent and strategic imperative”.
“Nine out of 10 is a large percentage,” documented Mark Iles, executive analyst of Tech Research Asia, when addressing the channel during EDGE 2020 in November. “And that was pre-COVID-19 so if partners don’t believe applications are important, they are missing the boat. For partners focused on infrastructure, now is also the time to understand how application infrastructure is going to change.”
As a result, Soghomonian advised partners to assume a lead role in advising customers which workloads should remain in public cloud environments, aligned to cost and security considerations.
“Successful partners are taking customers on that journey of managing the complexity of IT environments, both from an on- and off-premises perspective,” he said.
For Soghomonian, confirmation that modernisation remains a leading agenda item for customers on both sides of the Tasman is evident through a surge in PowerStore, VxRail and Data Protection deployments.
“We also want to win with Dell Technologies Cloud and win at the edge with our partners,” added Soghomonian, referencing the recent address of Satya Nadella - CEO of Microsoft - in relation to the potential of edge computing.
As outlined by Nadella during Microsoft Ignite, every organisation - irrespective of size, sector or stature - will require “more ubiquitous and more decentralised compute power” in the months and years ahead.
Referencing “radical changes” in computing architecture - spanning materials, semiconductors and systems across both the cloud and edge - Nadella forecast “continued exponential growth” in compute capacity. The knock-on effect is a market currently operating at “peak centralisation”, enhancing requirements for increased sovereignty and decentralised control.
“This represents a fantastic opportunity for partners because they own that capability and capacity at the edge with customers,” Soghomonian added.
Skilled up channel
The market declaration follows a sizeable increase in the number of certified partner engineers during the past 12 months, totalling 94 at a growth rate of 46 per cent year-on-year. This is in addition to a three per cent boost in the total number of transacting partners, reaching more than 2300 locally.
“We remain grateful to our partners for helping customers navigate the difficulties of last year while also investing for the future,” Soghomonian added. “We have a healthy ecosystem of certified engineers available with deep skills and expertise in managed services to take advantage of an uptick in demand.
“Even during the pandemic partners were investing and as we moved into the second half of the year, those skills were required by customers.”
Following the initial “shock” of COVID-19, Soghomonian said the channel moved to capitalise on the vendor’s pandemic relief package - first rolled out in April 2020 - with partner funded training as a core offering.
“We now have increased partner capacity which really kicked into gear during July and August of last year,” he recalled. “As business started to pick up again, partners had all services team members out in the field delivering work - this was a really important period of time and the channel capitalised.”
With customers planning to increase IT projects by 57 per cent in 2021 - according to EDGE Research - more than half of businesses (59 per cent) across A/NZ are ramping up outsourcing activities via the channel, motivated by a desire to focus on higher value projects.
Through prioritising “depth over breadth”, organisations are seeking partners capable of providing targeted solutions in the months ahead, shaped by domain expertise and relevant proof points. In response, 84 per cent of partners have committed to increasing staff training during the next six months, with 75 per cent set to pursue more certifications to meet heightened specialised demand.
“Almost every partner is recognising the need for skilling and the importance of having solid technical certifications,” Iles added. “Vendors are recognising this shift and putting more money into skilling the channel, we’re expecting more investment ahead to fully recognise this opportunity.”
Maximising managed services
Amid an increased end-user focus on modernisation, buying patterns are also evolving in parallel as businesses embrace as-a-service models.
According to IDC, 61 per cent of enterprise customers plan an aggressive shift towards paying for infrastructure on a consumption basis. By 2024, half of data centre infrastructure will be consumed as-a-service.
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