Most companies now think of cloud computing as being an established, mainstream technology. This also means that cloud service providers have new opportunities to extend their business beyond hosting and infrastructure.
According to a new study conducted by 451 Research for Microsoft nearly 70 per cent of the opportunity for cloud service providers now centers on application hosting, managed services like backup and disaster recovery, and security services such as threat management.
The study also finds that the choice of service provider has shifted higher up the decision making chain than the IT manager. The CIO or CTO is a primary decision-maker in the evaluation of hosting and cloud services for 52 per cent of respondents, followed closely by the CEO, who is a primary decision-maker for 44 per cent of companies surveyed.
"For today's cloud service providers, infrastructure has become only a small part of their overall service offering," says Aziz Benmalek, general manager, Hosting Service Provider business at Microsoft.
"More than 75 per cent of customers are now beyond the cloud discovery phase and expect that in three years, almost half of their applications will be deployed in a combination of private and public cloud environments. This presents a significant opportunity for our service provider partners to provide value-added services to their customers. By offering these expanded services, cloud service providers will be able to drive additional consumption, increase revenue and serve as trusted advisors".
Microsoft is keen to stress the opportunity for cloud service providers to help customers with Windows Server 2003 migrations ahead of the July end-of-support date.
Of the respondents with a formal Windows Server 2003 migration plan, around half will increase their use of hosting and cloud service providers. Almost 50 per cent also expect that they'll deploy a newer version of Windows Server in multiple on-premises and off-premises hybrid cloud environments.
The full study can be downloaded as a PDF from the Microsoft website or there's a summary of the findings in infographic form below.