Carla Arend (Lead analyst European Cloud Research)
Margaret Adam (Associate Vice President)

Common wisdom says that in Europe, partners play a key role in accelerating the cloud journeys of their customers. However, IDC’s recent research shows that the majority of partners are lagging significantly behind their customers in terms of cloud maturity and that they do not expect to have caught up in two years’ time. Putting that in context with complimentary research that shows that partners are keen to hire cloud technical and sales skills but that they are very hard to get in Europe, we have a perfect storm brewing, as cloud providers, partners and customers are competing for the same talent pool.

The transition to the cloud has been challenging to many partners, particularly those with a high reliance on reselling. The disruptive (and complex) nature of moving from a resell to services business, a CAPEX deal business to a subscription-based OPEX business, has meant many partners have been slow to transition. This shows clearly in their lack of cloud maturity compared to their customers.

While 44% of customers are in cloud maturity stages 4 and 5 today, only 19% of partners have reached this maturity level. The lack of maturity of traditional partners is a key challenge for customers who have a hard time finding a qualified partner to assist in their cloud journey and leaves this market wide open for cloud-native and specialist partners, which focus in assisting with cloud migrations and cloud management and operations.  And these specialist cloud partners are growing – fast!  Equally, they are being aggressively acquired for both their skills and their intellectual property.  It’s a good time to be skilled in cloud, particularly multi-cloud.

In 2020, the picture remains concerning for partners, who are not able to close the maturity gap to their customers. 63% of customers expect to be mature cloud users in two years, while only 59% of partners will have reached stages 4 and 5, the majority (42%) only expect to reach stage 4.

This means cloud providers wanting to expand in the expanding European cloud market through partners will be competing for a smaller pool of partners, as there are just not enough skilled partners available. Programs to rapidly upskill partners are critical, but also investment in automation and productized services that partners can quickly pick up and resell may be necessary. It is also bad news for customers who depend on skilled partners to accelerate their cloud journeys and they are facing the perfect storm of cloud skills shortage, a limited pool of skilled and mature cloud partners and growing business pressure to deliver on their cloud strategies. As a result, IDC expects services-led, cloud specialist partners to continue to grow rapidly in the near to midterm future.

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