Systems Integrators: Three's a Cloud

Written by Rod Faul, Client Director, VIRTUS Published 2016-08-01 07:59:00

The role of the system integrator (SI) is changing, not least because they face clients with ever-increasing expectations of outsourced IT services. One of the most recent trends has been a growing desire amongst end users to have flexible and agile IT services. As a result, we in the data centre industry are seeing a tendency for SIs to move away from in-house data centres and applications being managed in purpose built facilities (built by the SI). Instead, the emerging preference is to move to enterprise edge data centres to better position themselves in today’s hybrid world. Edge data centres provide ease of access to public and private Cloud services as well as a variety of Managed Service Providers (MSPs) that run a wealth of business applications.

The challenges of cloud may seem daunting; but as our industry value-chain realigns around new models of IT service delivery, there are opportunities for SIs that are willing to reinvent their business models to meet new customer expectations. The potential rewards of successfully navigating the tide of change are significant.

Today, businesses are much cagier about getting into a contract with an SI that includes their own footprint as well the management of their customers’ applications. These types of agreements have traditionally been inflexible because SI’s have tied customers to fixed footprints; Cloud, virtualisation and consolidation aren’t even catered for.

Of course SIs and MSPs provide enterprises with valuable expertise in delivering applications in the most streamlined manner. But it can be done more effectively and flexibly if the SI or MSP uses a third party edge data centre. By engaging with a third party specialist, they can have an agreement that can novate according to their, and their customers’ needs, but still have direct commercial control for the overall risk strategy. The largest OPEX will likely be ingress or egress of workloads, allowing costs to be kept to a minimum whilst achieving real flexibility and portability as well as streamlined commercials.

Another upcoming trend is that data centres will soon become tri-partied; where the enterprise sits in their own environment and has access to adjoining public and private environments on the same campus footprint. We expect to see this evolving over the short-term in line with the genuine desire to create shareholder value from front end customer facing applications, where the core back office infrastructure is supported and managed by third parties.

Remember, the role of the SI is to mesh together the different components so that they play nicely together. If the SI does its job well, then the different technologies can be presented as a seamless solution that the users don't have to know or even care about.