Read the tech press headlines, and you might come away thinking cloud is taking over the world.

It is — eventually. But for now, most enterprises are still in the early stages. In today’s marketplace, cloud adoption is not at all uniform across different industries — or even across different business units within a single enterprise.

In fact, the idea that cloud is some big, all-encompassing transformation is one of the misconceptions that tends to give customers cold feet. We spoke with several Citrix Partners currently advising their customers on cloud. Those having the most success approach cloud evolution through small steps, tailored to solve specific, concrete problems.

“We don’t approach cloud as a ‘lift-and-shift’ project,” says Adam Clark (@_adamclark,) solutions architect, Xenit AB (@XenitAB.) “Rather, we try to identify something we can move as a block to the cloud, and then help that customer slowly take advantage of cloud in more areas of their business.”

Some key use cases and vertical applications, however, do stand out as “low-hanging-fruit” for early cloud wins. Where are the biggest opportunities to sell cloud right now? Here’s what our most successful partners had to say.

Analytics and Machine Learning
Partners are seeing growing cloud interest in advanced analytics, particularly analytics driven by machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) among clients in multiple industries. More and more enterprises want to tap into the full value of their data. That means looking for deep insights into their products and their customers’ behavior and preferences.

More and more enterprises want to tap into the full value of their data.

To get to that kind of advanced business intelligence, however, organizations need high-powered compute that can run sophisticated machine learning pipelines and scale out for short-term analysis. For many organizations, implementing a data link to a cloud service is much more feasible than attempting to build up their own infrastructure and skill set.

“Our customers want to get more interesting insights, and they’re asking how they can do faster, deeper analytics without having to understand all of the back end that that requires,” says Beau Smithback (@BeauSmithback,) CEO, Envision IT (@envisionitllc.) “At that point, it’s relatively easy to bring up those capabilities as a cloud service.”

Some partners are seeing particularly strong interest in cloud-based analytics in specific industries.

“When you look at the manufacturing vertical, for example, there’s a lot of openness to it,” says Ronnie Altit (@raltit,) CEO, Insentra (@Insentra.) “They can start leveraging some of the machine learning capabilities and the artificial intelligence that the cloud brings in a much simpler way than trying to do that on premises.

Application Development
Time-limited projects — those with a clear beginning, middle and end — can also be great candidates for cloud. Many organizations are already using cloud services extensively for dev/test workloads. And the major software and public cloud providers continue to invest in making this even easier to do — for example, supporting a growing number of “bring your own license” options to make it less expensive to try out non-production workloads in the cloud.

Time-limited projects — those with a clear beginning, middle and end — can also be great candidates for cloud.

According to our partners, new mobile, web, and IoT applications all represent ideal entry points for customers looking to test the cloud waters.

“New products are constantly being introduced into organizations,” says Smithback. “That’s a great opportunity to try out cloud, because it’s non-business-impacting until it’s in production. Developers get more time and runway to build it out, do it the way they want to, and experiment, without being compared to existing on-premises approaches or wading through political problems.”

Seasonal and Fluctuating Workloads
AI and advanced analytics aren’t the only workloads that can benefit from the ability to temporarily scale out in the cloud. Our partners told us about several others that resonate with their customers.

Any workload that is either seasonable or burstable has gotten a lot of cloud interest as well,” says Brad Nelson, senior account manager, Envision IT. “In retail, for example, if there are applications or resources that only need to work for a couple of months, that is a great cloud use case.”

Any workload that is either seasonable or burstable has gotten a lot of cloud interest.

Cloud can benefit “burstable” human workforces as well. In fact, our partners see Citrix Cloud specifically bringing significant value to this use case. “Citrix works really well in the virtual desktop space,” says Dan Speck, vice president of technology research and development, Burwood Group (@burwoodgroup.) “We’ve delivered solutions out of Citrix Cloud where we create an on-demand ramp-up for seasonal work, which we can then ramp down after the peak. It’s a much quicker, lower-cost model than building for peak demand on-premises.”

Distributed Architectures
Several of our partners noted the value that cloud can offer to organizations with large, distributed IT architectures. They called out enterprises in manufacturing, oil and gas, and mining in particular—where customers often need to bring IT resources to remote, hard-to-reach sites.

Several of our partners noted the value that cloud can offer to organizations with large, distributed IT architectures.

“Heavily distributed architectures, such as exploring potential new locations for mining operations, bring unique requirements,” says Matthew Metelsky (@telsky,) chief technology officer, Third Octet (@thirdoctet.) “How do you get infrastructure or service delivery to these locations while minimizing demand on IT skill sets and demand on the infrastructure itself? We position Citrix Cloud to simplify the delivery of services to these sites, while allowing IT to focus on areas that are more strategic to the business.

Businesses with Limited In-House IT
Somewhat surprisingly, our partners told us that, in some cases, smaller organizations can be more receptive to cloud than larger ones. For example, some partners have had significant success bringing cloud to organizations in the nonprofit sector.

In some cases, smaller organizations can be more receptive to cloud than larger ones.

“Non-profit organizations usually don’t have much IT to begin with, so it’s an interesting area for us to spend a lot of time,” says Metelsky. “Not only do we provide consulting services to help clients on their journey to cloud, but we can play a more strategic role, and take over IT for them. We work collaboratively with nonprofit organizations, understanding that their money is better spent on the initiatives they work towards, rather than on IT.

Grow Your Own Cloud Practice
If you’re looking to build up new skills and knowledge to expand your cloud practice, Citrix can help. And for current partners, we’ve developed a free eLearning series, Cloud Business Transformation for Partners, that offers key performance metrics, best practices, and concrete advice on closing cloud deals. Check it out and start flexing your cloud muscles today.


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