The way IT resources are provisioned is changing rapidly, and this is providing new opportunities for quick-thinking channel businesses as they transform into cloud service providers. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the way resources are provisioned for application workloads.

Think back to the old days of mainframe computing; back then channel businesses creating solutions for their customers would have to provision dedicated infrastructure for each application.

Virtualisation, of course, changed this. Rather than provisioning dedicated resources for each application, infrastructure was virtualized to serve multiple applications, reducing costs for partners and customers alike. Today everything has been virtualized – including storage and network – making life easier than ever for channel businesses to create solutions to their customers’ business challenges.

We are in the midst of a new era of IT provision where not only applications, but workloads too are supported dynamically through cloud technologies. Take my own area of specialism: storage. Every application has to have data backup to support it, but where should this backup be stored?

Obviously, it is served through the infrastructure, but why does this infrastructure need to be static? In fact, it is far more beneficial for customers to have a dynamic approach to specific workloads. So, for example, mission-critical backup data can be stored on secure on-premise infrastructure controlled and managed by the customer, while less sensitive data could be separated and backed up on a low-cost cloud infrastructure.

This is where we are today and it is a far cry from the expensive and slow days of the mainframe-based enterprise. However, this is by no means the end of the story. The cloud is only just getting into gear and the limits of what it can deliver are nowhere close to being tested. So where next for channel businesses?

My belief is that we are rapidly moving towards the next stage of infrastructure provision where IT infrastructure will be delivered as a utility. If you want more of it, the service provider can turn the tap on; you need less of it, they can turn it down. Driving workloads dynamically is no longer enough – it needs to be made so simple that if an application needs certain resources to achieve a certain performance the software-defined IT infrastructure can allocate the exact resources – compute, storage and network – needed to drive the workload with the greatest efficiency possible, based on the specific business requirement.

This is Infrastructure as a Service, but it is a bespoke service; an intelligent service that is ‘aware’ of the unique contexts of every individual workload.

With any innovation comes opportunity and there is a clear one here for channel businesses looking to become cloud service providers. By treating resources as a utility, channel providers will be able to deliver unique, tailored propositions to their customers, where applications work with perfect performance levels at perfect price points. This will prove a key differentiator in the years ahead as increasing numbers of channel businesses complete their transformation into cloud service providers.