What does cloud mean for SMEs?

Director (EMEA) Go To Market Strategy

Kevin Collins, Director Cloud Practice (EMEA)

Traditionally many enterprise solutions have been out of the reach of SMEs due to their significant upfront capital investment. With the emergence of cloud computing this has brought these solutions within the reach of every business; whether it’s a small company using SaaS applications for mail, CRM and accounting, through to mid-size companies using IaaS to ease the cost of standing up new areas of business or even just evaluating something new while minimising the cost. Cloud is beginning to bring down the barriers to the entrepreneurial SME by mitigating the risk the business faces while adapting to changing markets.

What are the benefits for SMEs and how can the channel help to deliver on them?

SMEs need to consider how their business applications will run in the cloud. If they are using IaaS to transfer their traditional IT on to a cloud then how will the business interact cloud based IT infrastructure. For instance, is the SMEs Wide Area Network (WAN) capable of handling the traffic to the cloud and if not what is the best solution for their specific situation? On the other hand, if they’re migrating to a SaaS model then security becomes a bigger concern as the business is relinquishing some control to the SaaS supplier; data governance and jurisdiction remain the remit of the SME to choose a cloud provider who can deliver on Service Level Agreements (SLAs) required by the business.

The financial model is of equal importance to the technical considerations because the primary benefits of any cloud solution are the speed of acquisition, flexibility to adapt to changing requirements and the speed of execution (ramp up and ramp down). If the contract is too restrictive then the cloud proposition starts to lose its competitive edge over a capital investment. A good channel partner will not only deliver a technically sound solution but also one where the financial model meets the customer’s needs.

What do resellers need to know about cloud computing and SMEs if they are to provide the products and services best suited to customers?
Business partners operating in the cloud need to recognise the benefits of this new financial model and be able to articulate it to the customer with the same level of skill they currently do with technology. In addition, they need to decide how they’re going to start this journey from quietly driven solution providers to annuity focused service providers. A hybrid solution, for example, allows partners to deliver traditional solutions coupled with cloud services.

What can they do to ensure they’re well placed to provide these cloud services?
First they need to decide they role they want to play, which is outlined in our blog on: Cloud Computing: Forget the hype, what are the roles the channel can play?

Some partners may have originally viewed ‘the cloud’ as a threat given the direct nature of early engagements. That has now changed with both suppliers and customers looking to the channel for help to guide them through their IT decisions. Advising customers on the right solution to address their business needs has been a role the channel is long familiar with. Cloud has not changed the importance of being a ‘trusted advisor’: understanding the business requirements and being able to articulate the IT solution which can address that need. The trusted advisor has a focus on business outcomes yet understands the technical input.

As a recap: channel partners will typically adopt one, or more, of the following roles:

  • Cloud Advisor
The Cloud Business Advisor assists customers understand the business benefits of Cloud computing and helps customers make the correct IT choices for the business need
  • Cloud Builder
Understands the  customer’s business needs and builds complex solutions based on Cloud technology
  • Cloud Provider
Provides solutions and services based on Cloud technology and principles
  • Cloud Reseller
Offers a variety of Cloud services to their customers from best in class vendors
  • Cloud Integrator
Integrates cloud and non-cloud technology providing a bespoke business driven solution

Posted under Cloud Computing

This post was written by on February 28, 2013

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Waking up to the value in the IT estate: Are you sitting on a gold mine?

Big Data Expert

Simon Ellis, Director Estate Management Solutions and Services EMEA

Imagine a world where your sales force receives real-time customer opportunities derived from your own data. Where opportunities that not only improve your top and bottom line but also lead to new service and product business, improved renewal rates and deeper insight into customer estates. A world that allows you to grow your business whilst making you even more valuable to your customers. Interested? Thought so.

Managing and governing an IT estate using CMDBs (configuration management databases) and ITAM (asset management) tools and processes provides today’s organisations with a wealth of untapped potential in terms – opportunities for cost optimisation, cross-sell, up-sell and new services. Exploiting this potential gold mine allows the channel to deliver enhanced levels of service excellence and deeper value to internal and external customers, suppliers and partners. The challenge for the majority of players in the IT channel is how to enable and then unleash that potential and cash in on the data gold mine.

Recent years have seen the rise of data analytics and business intelligence (BI) where organisations move their IT spend – and focus – to sweating their investments and gaining business advantage through leveraging their business data. It could be argued that this is not the case with the channel with their various (and traditionally spreadsheet-based) new business, renewal management and customer asset management solutions.

Many of today’s asset management solutions remain siloed – contracts managed in one system, renewals in another, procurement in another, CMDBs, discovery databases.… the list goes on.

This can be understood given how the channel and indeed the end customer have traditionally operated – with separation of interests between procurement, IT and of course the business itself. Moreover, market dynamics within the channel very much drives a focus on transactional net new business.

Therefore it has never been as important to get a single view of yours and your customer’s estate – across contracts, renewals, installed base as they are sold, renewed or managed. I believe end-to-end Estate Management with intelligent mining of data is where the channel needs to evolve to in order to remain competitive and to prosper.

The proliferation of big data shows what is possible when you bring together different data sets to augment each other; add dimensionality and with deep insight, real value can be derived.

When transactional data is brought together with historical trends –new sales with renewals – sales out data with vendor cross-sell and up-sell rules — new insights and opportunities can be delivered.  Joining up the informational supply chain – vendor, distribution, reseller and end customer –allows ‘real-time’ opportunities to be uncovered.

Estate Management differs from pure ITAM through delivering insight into opportunities for all elements in the channel – the reseller, vendor, distributor and ultimately, the end customer.

Why does the channel need to wake up to this now?

  • Barriers to entry – some key players are doing this now – if you don’t then they will be able to eat your food from your table
  • Differentiation – the data you have allows you to differentiate your service offerings from others in the marketplace, allowing you to evolve from just being another commodity player
  • Deeper value – your customers will see greater value from you – through generating insight, opportunity and value for not just yourself but also for them
  • Smart partnering – channel players joining up to share data and intelligence in order to enter, disrupt new markets is going to become more commonplace. Who are your partners?

In short, new players are coming up behind you and will continue to enter this market – using data to derive new opportunity for themselves and their partners.  The market conditions continue to be tough and being able to identify new opportunities that create value automatically from data that you already have must surely be something we all need to wake up to?

For more information, please visit http://www.ts.avnet.com/uk/value_added_services/partner_services/estate_management/ or email estatemanagement@avnet.com.

Posted under Estate Management