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Cloud Computing: Forget the hype, what are the roles the channel can play?

Aug 14, 2012 4:47:44 AM Tech Data Europe Cloud Services, Cloud Computing, saas, gartner, IT distributor services, IT partner for cloud, reseller advice on cloud, software as a service

Cloud computing specialist Stephen Ennis, Director of Services, EMEA

A real opportunity

Having worked with cloud services for some time now, I’ve seen plenty of confusion around what’s reality and what’s hype where the Cloud is concerned. With well respected analysts like Gartner predicting Cloud Computing services will become a £95.7 billion ($150 billion) market in the next two years though, resellers do need to act now to seize a slice of the opportunity.

In my experience, resellers across EMEA want to know how they can step up to take real and practical cloud service propositions to market but it can be pretty daunting to work out a strategy if they’re not sure how to deal with the Cloud in general. One thing’s for sure, they need to look at achieving high ROI in their local markets.

So… how do they do this? Here are a few tips:

  • Look at how to expand your product portfolio to include the most in-demand cloud solutions for your market to quickly develop technology expertise to drive business growth
  • Work with a well-known IT partner who has the necessary skills and who possesses local market knowledge to enable you to develop strong know-how in cloud services
  • Recognise that cloud is not dissimilar to other technologies in that customers need it to be positioned, evaluated, implemented and integrated into their IT environment. Also, feel assured that the channel can fulfil these key customer requirements very well

The roles of the channel:

To deduce what cloud strategy can work best for you and your customers’ needs, you can consider five roles. You should be aware you can fit into one or more of these roles and can take on different roles depending on your customer engagement.

  1. Cloud Advisors: If you help customers demystify and understand the Cloud and provide advice on key decisions, this is your role. If an IT manager is considering outsourcing some applications, you as the Advisor, are there to offer counsel on which functions to move to the Cloud, you outline the pros and cons and create the migration strategy as well as complete a risk versus reward analysis. Building customer trust and establishing early credibility is the key to being successful as a Cloud Advisor.
  2. Cloud Builders: If you build private Cloud infrastructures either on or off-premise for your customers, you fit into this category. You will deliver cloud solutions, often turn-key, designed and built for your individual customer’s requirements. If you’re a Cloud Builder reseller you don’t generally own or operate the resulting cloud solution.
  3. Cloud Providers: Your role is similar to that of a Cloud Builder – you create cloud infrastructures. Where you differ is that you’ll deploy this “as a Service” (XaaS) and will host it yourself, making it available to your customers. As a Provider, you need to take more of an advisory role. You help your customers understand business transformation and how to evaluate the financial and technical merits of an off-premise cloud solution.
  4. Cloud Resellers: Quite simply, you sell cloud services from another organisation or a supplier. You help your end user select the correct cloud service(s) and evaluate which solution out of your portfolio best suits an organisation’s needs. For this role, you require in-depth knowledge of your customers’ businesses, which can often be a challenge if you’re not working with the right partner to show customers how to implement the Cloud.
  5. Cloud Integrators: You construct ‘the glue’ between private and public clouds or between traditional IT and other cloud infrastructures. You help take away much of the complexity of cloud solutions by providing customers with fully integrated multi-dimensional solutions whilst incorporating the best of traditional IT and cloud.

The reality of Cloud Computing for the channel

Resellers can take on many roles. If we consider a traditional IT landscape today, you may have a private cloud being built on-premise (Cloud Builder role) which may also include some external cloud services from a 3rd party (Cloud Reseller role) and they’d be integrating those together (Cloud Integrator role). In that scenario the reseller would be fulfilling three of the aforementioned channel roles.

Start with defining your role

Using these categories to define your own role in the Cloud Computing phenomenon is a great place to begin. Working with an experienced partner can reassure you about what roles you can fulfil and more importantly, can ensure you’re getting the in-depth training you need to advise customers proficiently. This will enable you to help customers make more informed business decisions for today and tomorrow’s cloud requirements.

Tech Data Europe

Written by Tech Data Europe

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