Technology Reseller v50 21 continued... BUSINESS BRIEFING Ovi Gherghel Julian Thompson How do you think the marketplace will change for cloud and XaaS? OG: “I think we’ll continue to see vendor consolidation and vendors trying to strengthen their position, because businesses want one provider for all of their services. Just look at Microsoft. They’ve made more acquisitions in the past three years than ever before. Now they are a player in UCC and cyber security market. More vendors will follow this model.” “In terms of how XaaS will look/how it will be delivered in future and what that means for resellers – I think we’ll see solutions created by a pool of vendors and aggregated by a reseller. APIs will mean the end user doesn’t feel like they are using multiple solutions. The reseller will become the trusted partner and single point of contact.” Is Ingram Micro positioned to support on this? OG: “Ingram Micro is the only player ready to deliver this. In the cloud business unit, we’ve structured our teams around partner needs and end customers needs, and created a customer success team. We have the right vendor set. We can leverage all three hyperscalers – Microsoft, AWS, and Google Cloud. Plus, security across cloud services. Resellers at all levels can engage with us as we offer three different options to suit different business needs.” What future predictions do you have for XaaS and cloud? OG: “My strong belief is that we’re now in the 4th industrial revolution and it’s never going to end. Right now, at least one UK city is planning for self-driving buses. Cloud will be involved there. Staying with transport – car brands are working on subscription services. For example, you buy 150 hours a month, and that would let you use a seven-seater in the morning to do the school run and then drive around in a convertible in the afternoon. But it’s possible that we’re heading to a world with only self-driving cars. My daughter, who is 6, may never get a driving licence.” “My other predictions? I think we’ll see brands doing more with smart glasses. And holograms will join the hospitality industry.” Ovi makes an important point about XaaS and aaS in general. It provides agility and adaptability. Scaling up is easy. When Ovi Gherghel Director of Cloud & Cyber Security What effects did the pandemic have, from your position in Ingram Micro? OG: “There was a huge acceleration of the move to cloud. Huge. Before the pandemic, we’d seen significant adoption of cloud technologies over the past few years, and we were expecting the upward curve to continue. But the pandemic accelerated it. It was driven by the end-customer need. Businesses needed to work in a remote, secure way. And they realised they could no longer rely on classic infrastructure, like a service room which can only be accessed by certain people.” Were we ready for that acceleration as a business? OG: “Yes. In the cloud business within Ingram Micro, we started talking about XaaS over 10 years ago. And we’ve made 11 acquisitions along the way to drive the delivery. Now we have Cloud Blue which is our cloud software and services platform that enables resellers to deliver everything as a service. And that’s important. Because if you speak about it, you have to be able to back it up. I think, looking at a wider context, that’s the biggest gap we’ve seen emerge around XaaS – perception versus reality around what’s possible. Businesses have found out that some things are easier to say than do.” Do you expect the move to cloud and XaaS to continue? OG: “Absolutely. The move to cloud is still going. The reason is that technology does not stop evolving. Think back three years. I’d have done this meeting face to face, right? I wouldn’t have even considered Teams, BlueJeans, RingCentral or 8x8. Now it’s the norm. Probably in three or four years time, we are going to meet in Metaverse! Then we will be laughing about having this discussion on Teams.” “Another key factor for continuing XaaS growth – CIOs want to buy tomorrow’s tech today, and make good decisions. XaaS lets them reverse out of bad decisions more easily and make them able to adapt fast, ready for unforeseen events, like the pandemic. Ultimately, end users will be the main driver of creating new technologies and services. And evolution will never stop.” business needs change, you can react fast. These are all strong motivators for businesses to adopt an XaaS approach, but there are challenges. This is something that our next executive picked up on, but with a very clear solution. Julian Thompson Director of Advanced Solutions What effects did the pandemic have on XaaS, from your position in Ingram Micro? JT: “Pre-pandemic we were discussing how services/aaS would work. Then the pandemic hits and some of our plans worked well, and some less well. Everyone learned from it. Personally, I think it’s taken longer than expected for businesses to increase use of XaaS. But the pandemic certainly pushed it up the agenda because cash was king.” Why do you think it’s taking businesses longer to embrace XaaS? JT: “I think we’re all using it in our personal lives, for example getting dog food on a monthly subscription through Amazon and saving a bit of money. And Office 365 – instead of investing upfront, you can pay a small amount each month? Car leasing is another area where people are comfortable with aaS. But there is a big difference between buying your dog food this way and choosing this model as a way to make a major investment in technology. That said, all the exposure we get to XaaS in our personal lives will definitely encourage business decision makers to consider this option more readily in future.” What will accelerate the adoption of XaaS? JT: “We need to think about the move from existing ‘ownership’ model to consumption model – for businesses and resellers. What will make it more appealing? For example, wrapping services around hardware to make it affordable and scalable. Also, It will depend where a business is in their journey. Startups are absolutely going to embrace XaaS. It makes no sense for them to invest hundreds of thousands of pounds in new laptops and phone systems. But for businesses that have an existing estate of equipment, they have to transfer out of that estate and replace it with a