Every cloud has a silver lining: Why now is the time for the channel to take advantage of cloud computing

Michael Fischermanns, vice president cloud solutions at Avnet Technology Solutions EMEA

Michael Fischermanns, vice president cloud solutions at Avnet Technology Solutions EMEA

Today we are seeing cloud computing spreading across the IT landscape, offering businesses the benefits of scalability, speed and accessibility. IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Cloud IT Infrastructure Tracker¹  showed that cloud IT infrastructure spending climbed to nearly 30% of overall IT infrastructure spending in 1Q15, up from 26.4% a year before.

The cloud helps businesses of any size create products and services faster and with far greater reach than before. The eradication of barriers associated with on-premise systems now enables change and growth as fast as a business demands.  Indeed, most business solutions are suited to the cloud, which in turn opens up opportunities for the channel.

Becoming a cloud enabler is the future

Although it has come a long way in a short time, cloud computing is still in its infancy relative to its potential. To stay relevant and take advantage of the opportunity, channel partners must become cloud enablers, developing solution expertise, and even moving to a managed service provider model.

End-user customers will be looking for an IT partner that understands their industry, their business model and their customers, along with their commercial competencies and plans for the future. Indeed, a partner that can help them migrate to the cloud and develop a long-term strategy taking into account their needs, for example, in terms of back-up, business continuity and security.

This presents an exciting opportunity that will require a different way of working from the traditional reseller model. Savvy channel businesses will evolve to become a cloud partner, building an eco-system of vendors, service providers and ISVs to help with their transition, as well as training and support requirements.

At Avnet we see our role to work with business partners to help them manage this transformation, providing a wide portfolio and vendor agnostic approach to help them become an enabler of a cloud business strategy.

Reaping the benefits of the cloud model

Every cloud opportunity brings the potential for new and recurring revenue streams. From data storage and back-up, to security and compliance, business analytics and services, forward-thinking channel businesses must keep ahead of the game to provide the most relevant software, networking and security products.

Business planning will become easier as customers switch to a cloud-based managed service and therefore are less likely to move to a new supplier. Recurring revenue will mean the quarterly rush for contracts and revenue, to meet targets, will become a thing of the past.

The flexibility and scalability of the cloud also means that customers can expand their IT applications and infrastructure to support the business with minimal financial risk. This also reduces the risk to the channel with lower investment in stock. In addition, while training and education programmes have a cost, they can quickly pay dividends with consultancy and service fees.

The cloud wave is rolling on

We have seen that cloud technology has already established itself as a global mainstream solution. Uber has used cloud capabilities to transform the taxi industry, Airbnb has shaken up the hotel industry and Netflix has had an impact on the home entertainment market. No industry is immune to this change and adoption of a cloud strategy is top of the agenda for all businesses and the channel is no different.

All the benefits of the cloud can be realised if channel partners hold their nerve and continue to work together.

Posted under Cloud Computing, IT infrastructure

This post was written by on November 9, 2016

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

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.

Posted under Cloud Computing