Ofcom released a statement earlier this month, announcing that halfway into its exploration of UK cloud services, it plans to refer the market to the CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) for investigation.
The news, while major, is actually unsurprising when you think about the make-up of the industry, believes Vapour’s CEO Tim Mercer.
“The UK’s two lead cloud players - Microsoft and AWS (Amazon Web Services) - hold up to 70% of market share, which definitely feels like a monopoly. There are other hyperscalers competing for customers’ business of course, including Google, but their presence is comparatively dwarfed by the other two giants.
“So we have to ask ourselves, do they have too much control? I would argue they do, but it’s hard to see how anything will change if the Government uses both.”
The dominance of Microsoft and AWS does make it harder for emerging cloud providers to gain traction, adds Tim.
“These providers have traditionally offered seemingly ultra-affordable options for customers - undoubtedly one of the reasons they’re the ‘go to’ cloud of choice for the public sector particularly. But big doesn’t necessarily mean best,” he said.
Ofcom’s article expressed apparent concern surrounding interoperability restrictions and significant price increases at the point of renewal, for example, no doubt just some of the factors that will be further examined by the CMA, if it goes ahead.
We’re told a final decision on the proposed investigation will be made by 5 October 2023.
“I hope it’s not merely an industry rumbling,” concluded Tim. “If there are ways to improve how the market works for all, then surely an investigation makes sense.“In the meantime though, I think the theme of this conversation reminds us of the importance of cloud agnostic conversations. After all, multi-cloud providers exist, who are able to advise organisations on the cloud infrastructure that is truly right for them - it might be Microsoft or AWS, it might be Google, or it might be something else entirely. That’s when things get really exciting.”
Cloud technology specialist Vapour has announced a trio of powerful new industry collaborations as the company moves into its next era of growth. The news marks a £350k investment in its toolkit, and the creation of at least seven additional jobs, as Vapour eyes £7m turnover by the end of 2021.
The Yorkshire-headquartered firm has been appointed as a Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (Microsoft CSP), having signed a new deal with global distributor Tech Data. This means organisations can source any Microsoft product or service, through Vapour – including Teams licences, Azure, hybrid cloud, and backups – with one wrap-around support solution and analytics across the collaboration stack. Customer support will be provided by Vapour’s own specialist engineers, who will triage enquiries and call upon Tech Data’s own helpdesk if required, with direct escalation into Microsoft if needed.
Elsewhere, Vapour has enhanced its relationship with existing firewall partner Fortinet, to launch a security-first SD-WAN network proposition with zero touch provisioning. This move comes in response to market demand for cost-effective hybrid cloud solutions that deliver greater agility, network performance and real-time control.
With SD-WAN overlays available for MPLS networks, as well as ‘plug and play’ SD-WAN boxes to protect corporate traffic in remote working setups, it is anticipated that this new proposition will prove popular among businesses with a cloud-first roadmap – especially those with satellite operations and homeworkers.
The third collaboration sees Vapour further cement its long-standing relationship with Veeam, with the launch of a new suite of hybrid backup, data management, servers, storage and disaster recovery solutions, for customers large and small.
The partnerships – which have been almost 12 months in the making – coincide with a complete rebrand for the company, as it nears its eighth anniversary.
However, the changes signify far more than a new visual identity, explains CEO Tim Mercer.
“When we entered the voice market in 2013, we were very vocal about what cloud could do,” he said. “In truth, people weren’t really ready, yet with the support of our investors, a considered recruitment strategy, and a lot of hard graft, we built an ultra-resilient network – not to mention a straight-talking reputation – which transformed the space.
“Fast forward to 2020 and I knew we could do more. I knew our network could be a real enabler of digital transformation. So, as part of our work with Barclays and Cambridge Judge Business School, we challenged every part of our organisation. We enjoy innovating. We aren’t afraid to disrupt. And now I think we can shake up the norm in wider segments of the market too – especially with these tech giants by our side.”
Industry collaborations have always been key to Vapour’s route-to-market, and that’s not about to change.
“We’re saying to companies of all shapes and sizes, you bring the challenge – however complex – and we’ll bring the solution,” continued Tim. “We’ll continue to collaborate with resellers throughout the channel and hope we can further strengthen their proposition by enhancing our toolkit, while satisfying some of the opportunities that are coming in directly to our business too.”
Other new additions to Vapour’s toolkit include robotic process automation (RPA) capabilities, UC&C analytics, and a more defined consultancy service to bring the tech stack together.
“It would have been easy to rein things in when Covid-19 hit,” admitted Tim. “And the economic backdrop has naturally caused vast uncertainty for many. But we had three big projects on our ‘hit list’ for 2020, and we actually accelerated our growth plans as the year unfolded.
“We’ve more significant announcements to come throughout 2021, but the rebrand represents the start of something really exciting for our team – that’s why they played such a crucial part in shaping how we’ll look, sound and behave, moving forward.”
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