Five channel roles in Cloud Computing
With Gartner predicting Cloud Computing services will become a £95.7bn ($150bn) market by 2014, it’s clear that resellers need to act now to seize a slice of this opportunity. However, it’s not as simple as it sounds as there’s been plenty of confusion surrounding what is reality and what is hype where the Cloud is concerned. To cut through this, resellers need to identify their strategy to enable them to achieve high ROI in their local markets. Consequently, resellers across EMEA now want to know how they can step up to take real and practical Cloud service propositions to market.
To do this, resellers need to look at expanding their product portfolio to include the most in-demand cloud solutions for their markets and to quickly develop technology expertise to drive business growth. Essential to building up know-how in a new area like the Cloud is working with a well-known IT partner who has the necessary skills and who possesses local market knowledge. It’s important to 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. Resellers should feel assured that they can fulfil these key customer requirements very well indeed.
To deduce what cloud strategy can work best for them and their customers’ needs, resellers can consider five roles whilst also being aware they can fit into one or more of these roles and indeed take on different roles depending on the customer engagement.
The first role is ‘Cloud Advisors’. These are the resellers that help customers demystify and understand the Cloud, providing advice on key decisions. For example, if an IT manager is considering outsourcing some applications, the Advisor’s role there is to offer counsel on which functions to move to the Cloud, outlining the pros and cons, migration strategy and risk versus reward analysis. Building customer trust and establishing early credibility is the key to being successful as a Cloud Advisor.
The second role is ‘Cloud Builders’. These resellers build private Cloud infrastructures either on or off-premise for their customers. They deliver cloud solutions, often turn-key, designed and built for their individual customer. The reseller generally does not own or operate the resulting Cloud solution.
Another category is ‘Cloud Providers.’ Much like the Builder role, Providers create Cloud infrastructures but their offering differs from Builders in that they will deploy this “as a Service” (XaaS) and will host it themselves making it available to their customers. Another difference between being a Builder and a Provider is that the latter group of partners need to help their customers understand business transformation and how to evaluate the financial and technical merits of an off-premise Cloud solution.
The fourth role - ‘Cloud Resellers’ - sell Cloud services from another organisation or a supplier. They help their end user select the correct Cloud service(s) as they can evaluate which solution out of their portfolio best suits an individual organisation’s IT needs. It’s paramount in this case therefore, that the reseller has an in-depth knowledge of their customers’ business, which can often be a challenge if they’re not working with the right partner to show them how to achieve this.
The final category is an important one - ‘Cloud Integrators.’ They construct ‘the glue’ between private and public Clouds or between traditional IT and other Cloud infrastructures. Integrators take away much of the complexity of Cloud solutions by providing their customers with fully integrated multi-dimensional solutions whilst incorporating the best of traditional IT and Cloud.
The reality of Cloud Computing for the channel is that 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) but 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.
Using these roles to define Cloud Computing for the channel is a great place to start. Working with an experienced partner can reassure resellers about what roles they can fulfil and more importantly, they can ensure they’re getting the in-depth training they need to advise their customers proficiently. This enables resellers to help their customers make more informed business decisions for today and tomorrow’s Cloud requirements.