Are you ready to drive value from the cloud?

Opinion Feb 07, 2013

Colt offers five factors for the channel to take into account to drive tangible value from the cloud

From new on-going revenue streams to deeper customer relationships, the benefits of cloud computing for the channel have been well documented.

Despite initial fears within the industry around the impact on traditional business models, some resellers have woken up to the opportunities it offers and are now capitalising on this fast-growing market. For businesses of all sizes, cloud computing spend is growing six times faster than traditional IT, predicted to represent 80 percent of the global IT market by 2020[1]. Indeed, if resellers are finding that their hardware and software sales are flat, it probably means their customers are already discovering cloud services and perhaps these resellers aren’t involved in this new spend.

The question now is how can resellers ensure they’re positioned to take advantage of the benefits that cloud-based services offer? And indeed, are they ready to do this? Those in the channel need to define their role, develop a clear strategy and build a solid value proposition around cloud if they are to see success in this area.

Colt suggests that there are several dominant factors which those in the channel need to take into account in order to drive real tangible value from the cloud.

The importance of being a trusted advisor

Firstly, resellers need to capitalise on their role as a trusted advisor to their customers. End-users will be looking to their IT provider to help guide them through their IT decisions and this will be no different for cloud-based solutions. Of course, they could go online and purchase services they require directly, but most will still need excellent advice from people they trust.  Cloud services, especially in mid-sized companies, don’t manage themselves. A typical purchase is most likely still to come via a reseller, putting the reseller on point for support, further advice and incremental purchase.

Experience is already showing that there are few ‘revolutions’ in customer estates. People want low-risk ways into the cloud paradigm, maximising the investment in their existing systems while gaining experience with the new business model. Resellers who have already built solid customer relationships through selling these existing systems will be perfectly placed to help in proposing solutions which help customers through this migration.

Adding value through your cloud portfolio

Secondly, resellers should ensure their portfolio of cloud-based services and vendors is matched to their own level of expertise.

While many resellers may not have the technical expertise to build their own cloud-based services, they can still capitalise on demand for cloud-based solutions by leveraging a portfolio of cloud-based service offerings provided by a trusted technology partner.

This can be compatible with the reseller’s role as trusted advisors to their customers. Because cloud-based services very often involve migration services from legacy systems, this is a key area where resellers are well-positioned to insert themselves in the value chain. In these instances, resellers can focus on providing the right infrastructure offers to their customers, which those customers then operate themselves with minimal support from the reseller. If the customer currently maintains his own servers and SAN, he may well choose to continue managing his own estate in a cloud environment.

On the other hand, resellers with more advanced capabilities can also decide to design, plan and deliver their own bespoke cloud-based propositions (manufacturing their own managed services). In order to do this, they will need access to the right building blocks including the right architecture, skills and services along with best-in-class technologies and solutions. These resellers will be able to add even more value by combining their technology expertise with vendors’ cloud-based platforms to build complex cloud-based solutions that meet the specific needs of their end-customers.

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