Microsoft Cloud Opportunities, Regional Adoption and Security Concerns
As the dust settles after Microsoft’s series of summer conferences, we caught up with Patrick Hosch, Technical Evangelist at Nintex and 2015 Top 25 SharePoint Influencer. Patrick expanded on a number of recent Microsoft themes, sharing his expertise on how the move to the cloud is affecting Microsoft partners, regional differences in cloud adoption, security in the cloud and more. Read on for the full Q&A, and visit the Nintex website to learn more about the company’s workflow automation products.
Q: How has Microsoft’s move to the cloud affected customer expectations for software vendors in its ecosystem? How has it affected your service and/or product portfolio?
Patrick: With Microsoft’s move to the cloud, customers need to adapt faster, so when it comes to technology, they expect to adopt faster. Customers expect vendors to be more agile and to deliver new products and services faster, but they also expect those products and services to help them become more agile, flexible and cost-effective themselves.
My company – and other partners like us – have adapted to Microsoft’s cloud-first, mobile-first strategy by focusing on innovating faster with Office 365 and other cloud technology. The shift has led Microsoft partners to transform into more agile organizations, providing customers with access to new products and features at a faster rate, and helping those customers meet their new needs for agility and flexibility.
Q: What product-related opportunities and challenges do you see with the move to the cloud for workflow automation providers and other Microsoft partners?
Patrick: As mentioned above, the cloud gives technology providers the ability to innovate and roll out new features faster. With this instant delivery, Microsoft partners can give customers the ability to leverage product changes straightaway, without any effort on the customer’s part to handle upgrading, testing, etc. since it’s all done on the solution provider’s end.
On the other hand, cloud technology’s distribution across different systems brings challenges, too. With on premises, technology was centralized, so it was easier for customers to control data and integrations between systems. When customers leverage different cloud platforms like Office 365, Salesforce, etc., data is distributed across systems that aren’t controlled by the customer, but they still expect everything to work together. That’s where Nintex comes in with our workflow automation platform: we allow customers to take advantage of the benefits of cloud technology, while providing easy data management across repositories.
Q: Have you seen substantial growth in any of your Office 365-related offerings?
Patrick: Yes, we’ve seen substantial growth in the last six to eight months. The growth has varied depending on region, with companies in the U.S. and Australia adopting Office 365 solutions faster – these are the regions more focused on innovation and more willing to take risks. European companies tend to be slower with their adoption of the cloud due to specific concerns around data sovereignty and
security, but even this region has shown more interest in our cloud services over the past six to eight months.
Q: As a global software provider, have you seen any differences in cloud adoption between the U.S. and Europe? What are the winning business models for solution providers in each of these geographies – today and tomorrow?
Patrick: There are definitely differences in cloud adoption between the U.S. and Europe, with the U.S. market well ahead. However, I believe that 2015 is the year of the cloud in Europe. European customers are finally starting to realize the benefits that cloud solutions and services can bring, and how they can leverage cloud technology alongside on-premises systems to mitigate risks while realizing cloud benefits.
To succeed in Europe, cloud solution providers need to be prepared with the right information to walk prospects through not only product requirements, but complex regulatory requirements. Solution providers need to prepare documentation that allows European prospects to make an informed decision. The process in the U.S. is simpler: selling cloud technology simply requires focusing on core business needs like reducing technology costs and improving business agility and flexibility.
Q: How has your relationship with Microsoft changed since Satya’s mobile-first, cloud-first shift? Do you rely on them more or less now?
Patrick: Since the mobile-first, cloud-first shift, our relationship with Microsoft is stronger than ever. Microsoft sets the speed of innovation and change, and their faster pace is good for us. To provide customers with new Office 365-powered benefits, we’re working more closely with Microsoft than ever before. Our business model involves providing the toolset that accelerates Office 365 adoption, so we have a mutually beneficial relationship that continues to grow more important for both Microsoft and Nintex.
Q: What is the state of security in the cloud – both from your customers’ perspective and yours? If security is a barrier to cloud adoption, how can cloud providers address this challenge?
Patrick: Bringing this back to the challenge of cloud adoption in Europe, security concerns represent a major barrier from our customers’ perspective. One thing that always comes up in Office 365 discussions is data security – customers are concerned about letting go of the information, just as parents worry about letting go of their children.
In parenting, you feel excitement about raising your child, but also concern about how your kid is going to grow and mature. In the end, however much you try, you just need to trust your kid and rely on their ability to master life as they get older. Cloud technology faces a similar situation – it’s grown up, and customers just need to let go and use cloud technology without getting caught up in old concerns. The fact is, current security concerns are primarily hype-based, not substance-based. Cloud providers invest millions of dollars into security, and are able to react much faster to potential attacks than internal security departments could. In my opinion, the cloud is actually the safest option today, because the security investments made by providers like Salesforce, Microsoft, Google and Amazon are much larger than what a single company could afford to invest.
About Patrick Hosch
Patrick Hosch is a Technical Evangelist at Nintex and one of the Top 25 Office 365 influencers. He is an expert for no-code/low-code solutions, collaboration and BPM solutions using Microsoft technologies such as SharePoint or Office 365. As a consultant and team manager he worked on the implementation of various highly successful SharePoint and Office 365 projects across Australia, Asia, the US and Europe. Patrick has various Microsoft certifications and is part of the AIIM community. He also blogs as much as his time allows on topics, such as SharePoint, Office 365, collaboration, BPM and Nintex at http://www.projectpoint.at