NelsonHall: Cloud & Server Management blog feed Insightful Analysis to Drive Your Cloud Strategy. NelsonHall's Cloud & Server Management Program is a dedicated service for organizations evaluating, or actively engaged in, the outsourcing of all or part of their IT activities. <![CDATA[Cloud Services 2020: Pandemic Accelerates Long-Term Trends As Buyer Demand Evolves]]>


As financial results that reflect a full quarter in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic are being released by IT service vendors, one of the key themes is that while discretionary budgets are being hard hit, clients’ investment in migrating to the cloud is not slowing. For vendors, clients’ cloud adoption has acted as a mitigator of other areas where clients have delayed new programs or delivery has been slowed by the move to remote working. Some specific examples:

  • While IBM saw revenue decline across its other services, it reported strong growth in its cloud business (in part driven by its acquisition of Red Hat)
  • TCS highlighted cloud as a growth driver, with its pipeline reflecting accelerated enterprise-wide adoption of cloud
  • Wipro highlighted demand being driven by 3 Cs – cloud, collaboration and cybersecurity.

The reason for this is clear: companies are focusing on reducing operating costs in the face of uncertain revenues and an unknown economic recovery timeline. They are also looking at a significantly more distributed workforce for the foreseeable future.

Cloud migration is rising even in sectors that have historically been slow to adopt cloud. Financial services has long been a laggard in cloud adoption due to the myriad regulatory and security challenges, but this month has seen large cloud engagements announced by HSBC (with AWS) and Deutsche Bank (with GCP).

Cloud has long been one of the fastest growing, and most hyped, areas of IT services. But NelsonHall research shows that despite the ubiquity of cloud in discussions of IT services, it still has a long runway of adoption among large enterprises. And the approach to cloud migration is seeing changes that impact how IT service vendors shape their cloud offerings and capabilities.

Hybrid Cloud Penetration Still Has Room to Grow

NelsonHall research into the priorities and focus areas of over 1,000 IT service buyers globally conducted earlier this year revealed that while cloud has been a focus area, there is still considerable growth remaining.

Globally, our survey shows that just over a third of large enterprise infrastructure landscapes are housed in the cloud today, very much in line with the planned adoption rate identified in previous NelsonHall surveys. But our most recent survey indicates that buyers are now expecting to house 42% of their landscapes in the cloud by 2022.

And hybrid cloud will remain the dominant cloud adoption strategy going forward.

Vendors Need to Evolve Cloud Capabilities

While cloud adoption shows no signs of slowing, it is important to realize that how cloud is being adopted is changing. Whereas early cloud adopters focused on lifting and shifting existing applications, standing up non-critical or non-production workloads or adopting common SaaS-based enterprise applications, clients are increasingly focusing on more tailored cloud adoption to drive higher return on investment.

The first major shift is the increasing importance of cloud-native. In 2018, NelsonHall estimated 23% of cloud migration work focused on cloud native development and projected this would rise to 32% by 2020. In our more recent survey, the most commonly prioritized characteristic that buyers seek in their vendors is cloud-native development capabilities. This is highly important to 81% of buyers globally and is the highest prioritized capability in nearly all of the 18 sectors we analyzed.

The other major priority shift is the greater specialization or tailoring that buyers are looking for in SaaS-platforms. Adoption of SaaS-based applications has been a consistent priority for IT service buyers for some years now and this continues to be the case, with 66% of buyers placing high importance on implementing new SaaS solutions. But clients are now looking for SaaS products tailored specifically to function or sector requirements. After cloud-native development, prioritized vendor capabilities include vendors that bring their own digital application offerings and have in-depth knowledge of sector-specific digital offerings.

In short, buyers increasingly aren’t lifting and shifting to the cloud just to realize some level of infrastructure cost reduction; they are looking to leverage the cloud to improve their application landscapes through more tailored adoption strategies. They need vendors that can develop a customized cloud adoption roadmap which combines commercially available SaaS products that address specific needs and, when those aren’t adequate, the replacement of on-premise applications with custom cloud-native developed ones.

Vendors Need to Continue Cloud Investment

All of these trends provide a blueprint for IT service vendor investments to ensure maximum relevance for their clients. IT service vendors need to be building a bench of resources with cloud-native development capabilities as well as cloud consulting capabilities. They also need to be investing in an understanding of SaaS offerings that are tailored to specific sector or business functions as well as exploring developing their own niche applications for areas where they possess strong capabilities and client relationships. Cloud adoption may be maturing but it still has a long way to go, and this is one area where the pandemic has only increased demand.

<![CDATA[Highlights of Cloud Advisory, Assessment & Migration Services (vlog)]]>


David McIntire, IT Services Research Director, talks about NelsonHall's recently completed market analysis project on Cloud Advisory, Assessment, and Migration Services. In this vlog, he touches on the changing nature and scope of large enterprise cloud adoption, market size and growth, and where IT services vendors are focusing their investments.

<![CDATA[Is Amazon the Biggest Threat to AWS’ Enterprise Public Cloud Domination?]]>


Over the last several years, the public IaaS market has grown rapidly, with major public IaaS providers growing at 45% or more annually, as estimated by NelsonHall. However, large enterprises are only moving a small portion of their application landscapes to public cloud, maintaining larger application footprints in private cloud or on-premise environments.

This hybrid approach reflects an unwillingness to treat all workloads across their application landscape alike. The applications being migrated to public IaaS providers have frequently been non-production, disaster recovery, or non-critical workloads, as well as external-facing applications with significant fluctuations in demand.

However, as public cloud offerings mature, the migration of enterprise workloads to public IaaS has grown, both in quantity and business criticality. And, similar to the overall public IaaS market, the largest target for enterprise application migrations supported by IT service vendors has been AWS.

NelsonHall estimates that, in 2017, client migrations by IT service vendors to public cloud providers were in the following proportions:

While AWS maintains a dominant position in the overall public IaaS market, when it comes to large enterprises migrating their existing application landscapes to public IaaS, AWS is potentially vulnerable to losing market share to competitors. Much of this is driven by competitors’ growing capabilities, but another factor is AWS’s parent, Amazon.

Competitive threats

A tougher competitive environment could reduce AWS’ position as the default option for public IaaS. Some specific competitive threats include:

  • Microsoft Azure, the second largest public IaaS provider, launched its Azure Stack offering in mid-2017. Azure Stack targets clients looking for a hybrid cloud, as most large enterprises are. Azure Stack offers paired public and private IaaS and PaaS offerings so that workloads can be moved between public and private environments with minimal modifications, and a common set of tools can manage applications across both
  • Google Cloud Platform, which has undergone a major drive to grow its public cloud presence. Recent wins at Shopify, Williams-Sonoma and Home Depot reflect Google’s increasing clout in enterprise public IaaS
  • Oracle, which was also slow to offer IaaS but is expanding its focus in this area. With a large footprint of clients with Oracle business applications that can be addressed, Oracle has an opportunity to grow rapidly.

However, these challenges might not impact AWS nearly as much as AWS’ parent itself.

Amazon’s impact

With Amazon’s dominant presence in retail and publishing, and its growing presence in media and entertainment, other companies in these industries don’t want to help fund their own competition – and these companies are increasingly looking to alternative cloud service providers (CSPs). IT service vendors are seeing a rise in companies either looking to migrate to other CSPs as alternatives to AWS, or even moving early-migrated workloads off AWS due to the competitive position of Amazon. As noted above, three of Google’s highest profile recent wins are all retail organizations.

This interest in alternatives to AWS by their clients is driving IT service vendors to expand their relationships with other public IaaS providers. For example:

  • Oracle: Infosys has developed end-to-end Oracle Cloud offerings spanning SaaS, IaaS, PaaS and lift-and-shift for on-premise legacy applications. Also, LTI is focusing on building out a suite of offerings for Oracle Cloud
  • Google: While nearly all IT service providers possess a strategic partnership with Google, TCS has a strategic relationship with Google driven by CEO-level engagement, and estimates it has delivered services on Google Cloud platform for ~35 clients. Also, EPAM has used its relationship as service provider to Google itself to develop Google Cloud offerings.


AWS appears poised to continue to dominate the overall public IaaS cloud market. However, when it comes to large enterprise application migrations, AWS is facing increasing threats, including those driven by its own broad business footprint.

<![CDATA[CSS Corp: Focused on Automating Enterprise Cloud Adoption for Consumer-Facing Clients]]>


CSS Corp. is a privately held Milpitas, CA-headquartered IT services and tech support vendor that NelsonHall estimates had revenues approaching $200m in FY16. The company has a new leadership team, many of whom are ex-Infosys, and it is now looking to expand beyond its core technical support offerings into the growing digital transformation and cloud migration market. 

CSS Corp primarily works with consumer-facing industries, with NelsonHall estimating that ~95% of its revenue derives from clients in retail, CPG, media/entertainment, telecom and high tech sectors. This is a client base that is aggressively pursuing digital transformation and cloud adoption, with an appetite for migrating existing production workloads, including core applications to cloud environments. These initiatives are also frequently originating outside of the CIO’s office on the business side where primary objectives are focused on customer satisfaction and revenue growth rather than operating cost reduction. CSS Corp is being aggressive in developing assets to support this workload migration.

To support clients’ adoption of public and private cloud environments, CSS Corp has developed a suite of tools to automate activities supporting cloud adoption, including:

  • Assessment and planning: CloudMAP
  • Migrating to the cloud: CloudPATH
  • Management of hybrid cloud ecosystems: CloudDRIVE


CloudMAP is used to help support decision making to determine how, where and when to migrate workloads. It is the evolved version of the CRAFT tool that CSS Corp has been using for ~3 years. Through an analysis of business processes, information flows, application dependencies, and technical architecture, CSS Corp uses CloudMAP to develop a migration plan. This plan includes:

  • Optimal hosting strategy for different workloads
  • Activities necessary to make each workload cloud-ready, whether it is rehosting with minimal changes, refactoring for scaling and performance, or replatforming to cloud native platforms
  • Timing and effort of each workload’s migration.

CSS Corp says the CloudMAP approach has enabled clients to realize ~40% cost reduction in the assessment and planning and ~30% reduced time to market. 


CSS Corp employs its CloudPATH playbook to support the migration of workloads to the cloud. CloudPATH is a suite of templates, tools and artifacts that are pre-built to support specific types of migrations, including:

  • Windows and Linux workloads
  • VMware workloads
  • Oracle workloads
  • Storage and DR
  • Analytics as a service
  • Full-stack, business service solutions such as e-commerce or digital marketing stack and content delivery on the cloud.

CSS Corp has partnered with cloud native providers such as CloudEndure, CloudHealth Technologies, SoftNAS, PlateSpin Migrate and Dome9 Security. CSS Corp says its clients are realizing 30-50% reduction in the migration effort through the employment of these assets.


CSS Corp’s CloudDRIVE leverages ServiceNow and technologies such as Nagios and Solar Winds for monitoring and alerting,  and CSS Corp’s automation platform and analytics engine Active Insights.

CloudDRIVE automates hybrid cloud management functions including:

  • Health and performance checks
  • State and change monitoring
  • Event processing and analysis
  • Process management
  • Orchestration, provisioning and brokering
  • ITSM
  • Predictive analytics.

CSS Corp estimates CloudDRIVE drives 30-40% operational efficiency improvements.

These offerings are the core from which CSS Corp is looking to evolve its client relationships from pure technical support to being a digital transformation partner. 

<![CDATA[IBM Reinvigorating Its Enterprise Application Services by Developing Watson-Enabled Industry Solutions]]>

Unsurprisingly, given its investment in, and focus on, Watson, IBM declared at a recent Alliances Analyst Day that 2016 is 'the year of cognitive'.

The intent of the meeting was to look broadly at how IBM is working with its key alliance partners, including SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft, and it is clear that IBM’s focus is on incorporating cognitive capabilities and broadening the suite of industry-targeted offerings with each of its alliance partners. Here I take a look at how this is taking shape.


SAP is IBM’s largest and most mature alliance, with ~36k IBM resources focused on SAP. IBM perceived that its SAP offerings, and in particular SAP HANA S/4, were behind the market a year ago and has invested in improving its capabilities. In pursuit of this, IBM is working with SAP to expand and mature its offerings, particularly in digital transformation. Investments include:

  • 40 resources from IBM and SAP collaborating on building out offerings
  • $1m in marketing
  • Two digital transformation centers (Palo Alto and Waldorf).

To demonstrate commitment, the boards of both companies have been receiving regular updates on the progress of these offerings. With a target for CY 2016 set at 50 new S/4 HANA engagements, as of June, the companies had already signed 52 new engagements.

IBM is positioning against its end-to-end capabilities, in particular its capabilities in digital and enterprise application services, and especially large, complex engagements spanning multiple offerings requiring flexibility of financial approach. One of the case studies presented was an engagement in which IBM was brought in to complete an SAP migration that had hit problems.

But its biggest focus area and differentiator is its ability to integrate cognitive capabilities on top of SAP functionality tailored to specific industry requirements. Given IBM’s focus on cognitive solutions and the relative maturity of Watson capabilities, layering cognitive directly on EA solutions can act as a differentiator versus other IT service vendors, focusing their machine learning capabilities internally to improve processes such as application development and incident management. An example is the integration of its MetroPulse product with S/4 HANA Retail, to leverage cognitive capabilities (including data from the Weather Company) that enable retail companies to identify hyper-local demand and adjust inventories appropriately.


IBM’s Oracle practice represents its second largest EA alliance. It has certified ~1500 resources in Oracle Cloud applications, with a target of 2k certified resources by end of the year. Over 5k resources have received training virtually from the Oracle University.

IBM is working with Oracle to develop horizontal Cloud Enablement offerings and has so far developed the following:

  • Budgeting and Planning Cloud
  • CX Sales Cloud
  • CX Service Cloud
  • ERP Financials Cloud
  • HCM Cloud
  • Innovation Management Cloud
  • Procure to Pay Cloud
  • Procurement Cloud
  • Source to Contract Cloud
  • Transportation Management Cloud.

This investment in resource skills and offerings has begun achieving results, with IBM realizing a 275% increase in Oracle cloud services YoY. It has 50+ Oracle Cloud engagements across 30 clients currently active, and cloud engagements represent 20% of its total Oracle EA revenues in H1 2016.

As with its SAP offerings, IBM is focusing on embedding cognitive capabilities and developing industry-specific digital transformation offerings with Oracle. It is building out 30+ offerings across ten industries such as Oracle Banking Digital Experience, Cognitive Electronics, Digital Retail, and Insurance on the Cloud. Additionally, it is looking at integrating Watson and Oracle to create new offerings to be formally launched in the coming weeks, including:

  • Watson Procurement Intelligence
  • Field Tech Services
  • Talent Advisor
  • Financial Smarter Advisor.

IBM is targeting 7% revenue growth across Oracle EA offerings through the end of the year, as well as growing to a total of 45 Oracle cloud clients.


IBM’s newest EA alliance is with Microsoft, a partnership that is ~2 years old. IBM views its Microsoft offerings as providing, unlike Oracle and SAP, a means to target smaller and mid-sized companies. IBM’s Microsoft practice has ~4,400 resources, and 75% have received Microsoft certification.

An example of IBM’s commitment to growing its Microsoft practice is its recently announced acquisition of Optevia, a small U.K.-based consultancy (~40 FTEs) focused on helping public sector clients implement Microsoft capabilities. While Optevia’s footprint is primarily U.K. and Europe today, it is expanding with an engagement in the healthcare space in the Middle East as well as pursuing work in North America, Spain, and Southeast Asia.

IBM’s Microsoft group spans Microsoft offerings across big data and analytics (Power BI), enterprise applications (Dynamics, AX, CRM), mobile enterprise and collaboration (Office 365, Lync Server, Skype for Business) and application development and cloud (SQL Server, .Net, Visual Studio, Azure).

IBM’s Microsoft offerings leverage cognitive capabilities across a number of industry verticals, including:

  • Banking CRM
  • Insurance CRM
  • Constituent Engagement (Local government essentials)
  • Auto Retailer
  • Next Generation Field Services.

One particular area of focus beyond the expanded integration of cognitive capabilities is Surface Business Transformation, an initiative to leverage Surfaces and develop enterprise applications for them based on Windows 10. An example of this is what IBM refers to as a ‘Meet and Greet’ app. For example, rather than a bank waiting to interact with customers once they reach the teller window of a bank, an associate armed with an enabled Surface can meet them at the door, pull up their information (as the Surface connects to a CRM server in the back) and provide immediate guidance and support. IBM is the exclusive Microsoft partner for the banking, retail, and consumer packaged goods industries.

IBM is also looking at building out its cloud and application management capabilities in support of these offerings.


With cloud hosting and management a strategic priority for IBM in addition to cognitive, IBM is looking to integrate its cloud services with its alliance partners. One facet of this is IBM’s introduction of Cloud Management Services for SAP and Cloud Management Services for Oracle. These services integrate IBM’s cloud managed services, including support and uptime service levels, with SAP and Oracle software.

IBM is trying to move cloud discussions beyond the IT department. It is slowly seeing business executives engage on cloud projects and it sees the presence of a change agent as a key driver for realizing the value of cloud investments. Case studies discussed included new senior leadership coming in and divestitures as examples of drivers that resulted in the transfer of workloads to cloud environments.

Application Management

While IBM’s traditional application management business may not be trumpeted as frequently as its strategic imperatives, application management still accounted for ~19% of revenues in Q2 2016 and those services are evolving to take advantage of the new capabilities offered by cognitive.

IBM introduced its Agent Assist around a year ago to its support teams or us in to diagnosing and resolving incidents. EA is a key target area for Agent Assist, and IBM has built a standard knowledge base across SAP that can be implemented at the onset of an engagement and then expanded over time with client-specific information. Agent Assist is being deployed across 500 application management services accounts with over 5k resources are being trained on it. The next step will be a fully cognitive automation platform that not only identifies the resolution to an incident but is also capable of resolving incidents without human intervention.

For application development work, IBM is introducing Coding Assist, to facilitate developing common code blocks for ABAP, BI, and HANA.

These technologies are not intended for IBM consumption alone, though; as their maturity increases, IBM is looking to turn these into client-facing as a service products.

<![CDATA[3 Key Ways IT Service Vendors Are Enabling Clients’ Cloud Journeys]]>

The rise of self-service provisioning and automation of public cloud environments gives companies autonomy in managing their infrastructure and flexibility in meeting fluctuating capacity demands. From the perspective of an IT service provider, however, if clients can provision new cloud environments in a few minutes and then use the same screen to orchestrate and manage that cloud environment directly from the host, does an IT services provider play the same critical role in managing infrastructure as it once did?

NelsonHall has found that rather than decrease in importance, the role of IT service providers may actually increase as clients move to cloud-based infrastructures. There are three main drivers of this:

  • The need for help in developing and executing a migration plan
  • The complexity of managing hybrid cloud environments
  • The use of cloud as a foundation for broader digital transformation

Advisory & Migration Services Critical

Whereas, a few years ago, public cloud environments were used to host non-critical or non-production environments such as development or test, companies are increasingly looking to leverage cloud environments as broadly as possible across the enterprise.

Accordingly, IT service providers recognize the criticality of getting engaged in cloud advisory and migration for their clients. ~60% of the vendors profiled in NelsonHall’s recent Cloud Infrastructure Migration & Management project have made investments in cloud assessment automation tools and ~65% have invested in migration automation tools. The majority (~60%) also have PaaS offerings, based on open-source tools such as Cloud Foundry and OpenShift, to support developing cloud-native applications.

IT service providers are positioned to drive the process of defining how to disposition various workloads, including replacing existing applications with SaaS solutions, developing new cloud-native applications, or migrating existing applications to cloud environments, as well as where each should be hosted (public cloud, private cloud, on-premise) and have developed tools and methodologies not available within any single company.

In particular, IT service providers are increasingly investing in automation tools, such as AppDynamics Application Intelligence Platform, to enable the discovery and categorization of application landscapes, producing detailed migration strategies. These automation tools can reduce assessment and migration planning effort by 80-90%, with case studies showing effort that was measured in weeks and months now measured in hours and days.

IT service vendors are also leveraging broad application-migration resource pools in low-cost locations, as well as automation tools such as NetIQ’s Platespin, to accelerate the migration of workloads to cloud environments.

In addition, IT services vendors are managing to capture significant cloud management revenues from application assessments and migration services, with vendors typically reporting from 40% to 80% of their on-going cloud hosting and management engagements arising from advisory and migration engagements. These migration projects are increasingly where vendors build the knowledge and develop the relationships necessary to provide on-going support of cloud-based environments and the workloads that reside in them. For example, TCS, solely targets its cloud management services at clients with which it has an existing relationship, or at organizations for which it provides cloud advisory and migration services.

Managing Complexity in Hybrid Clouds

Large, established companies have found that there is not a one-size-fits-all cloud solution, so hybrid clouds spanning public cloud environments, private cloud environments, SaaS products, and legacy on-premise applications are becoming the norm. Management consoles that enable a company to provision, orchestrate, and manage across a variety of cloud environments through a single interface are critical for consistent IT infrastructure management in this new complex cloud environment.

For example, AWS sees IT service vendors playing a key role in driving clients on the hybrid journey: assisting clients to re-factor legacy applications to operate in the cloud, building new cloud-native applications, and providing the management of cloud environments across AWS and private clouds. NelsonHall estimates that ~40% of AWS’ large corporate clients are leveraging a third party service provider to manage their cloud environments.

Indeed, all 14 vendors profiled by NelsonHall have developed cloud management systems leveraging tools such as Chef, Puppet, ServiceNow and other tools, bundled into single proprietary toolsets that automate management functions and can be leveraged at centralized low-cost delivery centers.

Migrating to cloud environments and leveraging these automated management consoles has enabled companies to typically realize a 30%-40% infrastructure hosting and operating cost reduction and a drop in the time to provision new environments from weeks to hours.

Enabling Digital Transformation

While companies are looking at hosting workloads in the cloud to reduce operating cost, in many cases that is not the sole objective. NelsonHall’s Cloud Infrastructure Migration & Management study identified the use of cloud as a foundation for a broader digital transformation as a key driver of cloud adoption. Indeed, in ~19% of instances it was listed as the primary objective.

As consumer expectations for personalization and agility grow and new cloud-native companies become competition, digital transformation is a major focus area for most established companies. These digital transformation initiatives are broader strategic programs that often begin with migrating and managing workloads in the cloud.

While the value of cloud-hosted environments is measured in reduced infrastructure and operating costs, broader digital transformation initiatives typically measure success in client-facing and strategic objectives such as speed to market for new products, improved customer service, and ultimately increased revenue.

Accordingly, IT service vendors with a consultative and applications-centric heritage typically position their cloud migration and management offerings as components within a broader digital transformation service rather than as key ends in themselves.

Furthermore, given these critical roles that IT service providers play in supporting client cloud journeys, it doesn’t come down to making a fundamental choice between IT service providers and cloud hosters, as might be assumed. There are key complementary roles for both.