What to look for in a cloud partner

Sarah Anderson

Executive for Telstra Purple & Technology Services


Few organisations can go it alone when it comes to cloud. They'll need a partner - and more importantly - a digital transformation partner. Not just a partner for specific short-term projects, but one who's there for them over the long haul.

Today's cloud has matured, and hybrid has become the go-to model for deployments. That's brought increasing complexity in the clouds being used and the ecosystems that support them.

As cloud has progressed, so has the cloud journey of many organisations. Most have already moved simpler and less critical applications. What are left are complex workloads with multiple dependencies that play a critical role in business.

Underpinning everything is the increasing tempo of change. New services and tools are constantly being released, often outpacing the knowledge and skills available in house.

Increasing change and complexity mean a partner will be central to the value your cloud delivers. Whether you already have a partner or are looking for one, it's vital to ensure that the partner is the right fit for your needs now, and aligned with your future strategy.

Many potential partners exist, each with different skills, specialisations and accreditations. Weighing one against the other is hard since no standard comparison framework exists. When evaluating a cloud partner, here are key things to consider:

Do they understand your business context?

Organisations look to cloud for reasons like cost, performance, efficiency and agility. But these goals mean different things to different people.

It's therefore essential to have a digital transformation partner who will spend time understanding what these goals mean to you across cloud and the broader organisation. Once they know your business context, they can help you achieve desired outcomes and prioritise them in line with acceptable levels of risk and cost.

Just as important is their understanding of your industry. Different industries have different requirements. A cloud partner with specialised knowledge of your industry can help you meet these requirements while providing valuable insights for the future.

Do they have deep expertise, both in and between domains?

With cloud, technology domains don't work in isolation. Everything is interconnected. In fact, it's the grey areas where domains intersect that often cause problems. So it's crucial that your partner gets the relationship between them right.

Bearing this in mind, three key technology domains will come into play even in the simplest cloud environments. Your cloud partner needs deep expertise in all three to truly drive the innovative possibilities of the cloud.


Recommending the most suitable types of cloud and cloud vendors is just the start. A partner should also advise on how to get the most from the cloud once you're there. Innovation is no doubt a major reason why you adopted cloud, so your partner needs to have the vision and skills to exploit it.


What was once safe behind corporate firewalls now has multiple points of access and vulnerability. Hyperscalers secure their platforms, so the issue is not whether the cloud is secure, but whether you're using the cloud securely. Your partner needs to be expert in security to help you manage the growing scale and sophistication of threats.


Your experience with applications will rely heavily on how networks are designed and configured. It's vital to have a partner who can make your cloud network-ready from the start, and continue to optimise performance as your operations evolve.

Who has your partner partnered with?

No cloud partner can do everything. Sooner or later your partner will have to draw on the skills of third parties, especially when it comes to industry-specific use cases. You should know who these third parties are, the strength of their relationship with the partner, and their track record of working together.

You should also know your partner's relationship with hyperscalers. Does your partner have the relevant depth of knowledge and accreditations? Can they give you early access to cloud innovations? More importantly, do they jointly invest with hyperscalers to create roadmaps to new and advanced capabilities?

Look for a long-term partner 

At Telstra, we think it's better to have one partner committed to your long-term success rather than temporary partners for individual projects. In fact, we're increasingly seeing organisations wanting a holistic digital transformation partner, not just assistance with a move to the cloud.

Someone who provides consulting, design and migration together can help you take full advantage of the cloud. If management is also provided, you'll have ease of service and clarity on what's happening across your clouds, network and security, all with a single point of responsibility.

Importantly, your management partner will know the history and specific needs of your business. You'll avoid the problems of having someone design and build your environment, and someone completely different manage it.

It's all about creating value

When you're using cloud, you want to get the full measure of its benefits. In our experience, a partner needs to support you in the three key areas of context, domain, and lifecycle. In other words, a partner who knows your business and industry, has expertise within and between technology domains, and is with you across your entire journey. This will deliver the fastest time to innovation and value.

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