Cloud computing is proving to be more than just hype and is poised to become the next big thing, with an increasing number of vendors introducing cloud-based solutions every week. The new IT Gold Rush is on and the channel will have to adapt to new and evolving business models to remain relevant—and ultimately survive.
The Place for the Channel
Channel partners are often viewed by customers as trusted advisors, which can be a key element in defining their role in the new business models for the cloud. They are the “last mile” in the sales and delivery process, and experience has shown that IT vendors cannot effectively manage the customer relationship. With the cloud computing model, channel partners have ample opportunities to perfect this role.
Five Questions you need to Ask
Cloud computing involves a different business model than what IT channel partners are used to. To survive—and indeed prosper—in this new business environment, you should ask these five questions:
- Do vendors in my area of specialization have a cloud-based offering?
- Everyone is talking cloud, but not all vendors have a solid offering in the market. If you have the opportunity, sign up for beta testing and get into the game as early as possible.
- Do the vendors I work with have a partner offering for cloud solutions?
- A word of caution here: Do not expect a clearly defined business model and a solid partner value proposition yet. The business model for cloud vendors is constantly evolving. While this can create uncertainty about your relationship with vendors, it can also be an opportunity for you to provide feedback on how your business can add value to the sales process and delivery of their solutions.
- Are the solutions I work with shifting to the cloud?
- Keep an eye open on the industry. For some solutions, the trend is very clear: Collaboration, storage and security solutions are already in the cloud.
- Are my customers talking to new vendors?
- Make sure you are the FIRST one to assess and advise YOUR customers on the benefits of cloud-based solutions.
- Do I have what I need to get started?
- Chances are, if you’re not in the cloud, you will have to make some big changes. Start by understanding how your sales force will be compensated. If your salespeople are used to large invoices and receiving a bonus every quarter, some elements associated with cloud computing such as recurrent billing, PaaS and usage will affect compensation plans. Make sure your sales force is mentally prepared for the shift or if possible, hire new salespeople who work just with cloud-based solutions. In the end, make sure you have a compensation plan that’s consistent with the results you want to achieve; someone that is used to selling infrastructure might unintentionally boycott your efforts to move to the cloud.
A Final Word of Advice
Vendors have moved beyond the cloud hype and are aggressively pushing cloud-based offerings in this new IT Gold Rush. Channel partners who are serious about cloud computing need to mine the opportunities and then stake their claim.