Cloud Marketplace: Built for the Way Business Is Done Today
Ensuring business continuity during these times means that people are turning more and more to digital technology platforms to address the challenges that social distancing poses in the workplace.
Business continuity is not a new concept, however, when considered during a widespread pandemic, it creates a whole new scale of challenges: organizations are adapting to support heavily remote workforces, limiting onsite visitors and discouraging or even cancelling in-person meetings and events.
Not only are businesses enabling employees to work effectively from home, but they are also turning towards the cloud to leverage the benefits of highly scalable, on-demand resources that don’t need to be managed on-premises anymore. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations were leveraging the major public cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud to take advantage of portal-based access to remotely managed cloud resources.
But what if you want to use a software application in the cloud that is not offered as a native service? Or what if your organization has years of experience and investment with a solution from an independent software vendor (ISV) that they would like to continue to use in the cloud? What if you have a hybrid environment and want to use applications both on-premises and on a public cloud platform?
Enter the cloud marketplace: each of the large public cloud providers has their own version of a marketplace that allows customers to browse and purchase software products compatible with their cloud platforms. Just like how you would shop for a new coat from an online store, where you search a site and see results by brand or by size, in a cloud marketplace you can search or use drop-down menus to quickly find software listings by publisher or by category for everything ranging from security to networking and automation.
Just like cloud computing, a cloud marketplace is not a new concept. However, with the rise of remote work and the need to continue to do business safely, the cloud marketplaces are uniquely positioned for both the short and long term, as they are built to support the new way that business is done: remotely and at the click of a button.
Evolution of the cloud marketplace
When cloud marketplaces were first introduced, they were heavily embraced by startup software companies looking to get their titles out on the market. With the ability to access customers of large public cloud providers such as AWS, Azure and Google Cloud, a small startup company could attain a vast amount of reach that would not normally be available to them through traditional sales methods.
On the other hand, the larger and more mature technology vendors shied away from the marketplace, as they already had well-established sales channels developed to sell their products and often found the need to negotiate custom offers to accommodate the unique requirements of certain customers. As a result, large enterprises did not take much notice of the cloud marketplaces, perceiving them as catering to the needs of smaller businesses.
However, over the past year the characteristics of the cloud marketplaces has begun to shift. If you head out to the marketplace of the cloud provider of your choice, you can quickly find listings from technology powerhouses like Cisco, Netapp, F5 and Palo Alto, amongst hundreds of others. Not only that, but you can choose from different payment options, multi-year terms and in some cases, you can even opt to work in conjunction with a channel partner of your choice.
Now that enterprise companies can buy their strategic technology solutions from a cloud marketplace, they can take advantage of the benefits of a digital purchasing experience for solutions that line up with their needs. As a result, the notion that the cloud marketplace is not a place where enterprise companies do business has all but evaporated.
Why enterprises are choosing marketplace
Simply having a product listed on a marketplace isn’t enough of a driver to change the way that large enterprises procure technology. Many organizations have negotiated custom terms and agreements for software that is critical for their business and maintain strategic partnerships to help support those technologies. So what is causing enterprises to look twice at cloud marketplace?
To start, many software vendors have begun to create listings on cloud marketplaces that line up with how their product would be consumed. Instead of buying a static license for perpetuity that’s tied to a device, you can use the software on-demand and pay for what you use. For example, you can find listings on any of the cloud marketplaces for software products that allow you to pay by the minute, by the second or by other micro units of measure. That’s a huge benefit to organizations that are looking to line up their application expenses with the cloud costs they pay to run them.
Furthermore, the cloud marketplaces have not only gained traction with legacy software vendors, they are also making it possible for traditionally hardware-based companies to embrace a more software-as-a-service and consumption-based model for their products.
Companies like Netapp, F5 and Palo Alto, who have traditionally coupled their software with the underlying hardware appliances for customers to run and manage on-premise, now have listings on the cloud marketplaces that allow companies to take advantage of their software applications in the cloud. This means that organizations that have invested in a trusted technology solution can still take advantage of their internal resources and skillsets and move more confidently into the cloud.
There are other enhancements that come with a cloud marketplace experience. Simple things like being able to have your offers presented digitally, with the ease of being able to click-to-purchase, means that you can log in from anywhere and virtually any device to review and complete your transactions.
Some ISVs have taken that one step further and bundled their products with the underlying cloud resources required to run their product. The result is the ability to click-to-deploy straight into your cloud environment.
The speed and ease with which purchasing can be done goes a long way for accommodating remote workers who may be already inundated with online meetings, overfull inboxes or having to work odd hours. However, even when businesses re-open and workers come back on campus, it’s likely that these quality of life enhancements will still be in high demand.
Impact for your organization
As with anything related to the cloud, these marketplaces are still ever evolving. The cloud providers and ISVs are getting more creative with the marketplace platforms and better at understanding how to make them work for large enterprises. Many enterprises are still unclear as to what a cloud marketplace is, what is possible in a cloud marketplace or what it means for their overall cloud strategy and traditional purchasing if they shift over to a new platform.
With little attention being paid to the cloud marketplaces thus far, many organizations may gain their first experiences with them through "shadow IT purchases." Without establishing policies and governance to control which users can access marketplace products and execute purchases on behalf of their enterprise, it's entirely possible for a software developer, for example, to browse and purchase marketplace products without going through the traditional internal purchasing processes.
Combining a good cloud marketplace strategy with well-developed identity and access management (IAM) controls can typically get ahead of these issues and allow your organization to more confidently incorporate the cloud marketplaces into best practices.
Furthermore, when evaluating or expanding your enterprise's use of a cloud marketplace, it's important to note that not all cloud marketplaces or ISV listings are created equal. While this article strives to pull out the similarities between them to demonstrate the overall shift in attitude towards embracing them, each of the cloud providers and ISVs have a unique way that they position their marketplaces or marketplace listings amidst their overall cloud strategies.
For example, AWS Marketplace allows customers to work through WWT for cloud marketplace purchases, so that your organization can retain all the benefits of working with a technology provider (before and after the sale) while still gaining the modern experience of the cloud marketplace.
Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, on the other hand, still encourage customers to purchase software directly from partners like WWT and then leverage BYOL (Bring Your Own License) rights to use on their cloud platforms. Understanding differences such as these will help you determine which path will help you maximize your organization's investments as it furthers its adoption of the cloud.
Regardless of where you are at in your cloud journey, WWT can help your organization navigate the implications of these cloud marketplaces to help you make decisions that are the best fit for your enterprise.
From helping you to establish or revamp your overall cloud strategy, bringing cloud marketplace products into our Advanced Technology Center for customized evaluations and testing or engaging with our subject matter experts to help design and implement cloud solutions based upon your specific requirements, WWT is here to get your organization ready for the new way that business is done today.