Cloud Channel Summit: Business Models Emerge For Partners4:09 PM EST Tue. Nov. 06, 2012
Channel partners looking for a way to build a cloud practice found several possible paths Monday at the Cloud Channel Summit at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View.
Partners heard from a series of cloud deployment veterans who outlined a variety of ways to build cloud businesses, from aligning with a distributor or technology vendor to joining with other partners or accessing cloud services from marketplaces set up by large cloud providers.
Stacy Nethercoat, Tech Data's vice president of software product marketing, said the distributor offers partners a comprehensive package to help them to go to market in the cloud.
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"We've set out not just to resell cloud solutions, but to adjust our business model to build a scalable, optimized new model," Nethercoat said. "We see education as an essential part of our strategy to make accessible to partners all the information resellers have to share, as well as training. We also see the need for helping partners see the right solutions."
IBM is also offering partners help in getting to the cloud. Amy Anderson, manager of IBM's cloud computing partner program, said the company will help cloud partners through several programs tailored for different business models.
"What are your business objectives?" Anderson asked. "We help you figure out what would fit best for you."
IBM's programs include Cloud Builder Solutions, Cloud Application Provider Platform and Cloud Service Provider Platform.
Several cloud partners also outlined successful strategies for building their own businesses.
David Hoff, co-founder and CTO of Cloud Sherpas, a Google Apps and Salesforce.com solution provider, said partners have to build new business models to maximize effectiveness in a cloud environment. To take advantage of small business sales, Cloud Sherpas built a separate business unit.
"We have a high percentage of customers under 100 seats, and we struggled early on over how to make a business out of the SMB space," Hoff said. "You have to understand the cost of business and what drives it. So, we built an entirely segmented team that handles SMB business and that is very different from our large segment team."
All Covered, a 15-year-old managed services provider now owned by Konica Minolta Business Solutions USA, has expanded its cloud business by buying smaller MSPs, said Nick Pegley, the company's vice president of marketing.
"We are seeing a consolidation coming," Pegley said. "All Covered has been buying MSPs and attaching cloud services."
NEXT: Cloud Marketplaces Gain Traction
Another opportunity for partners looking to do business in the cloud is to leverage marketplaces to access diverse cloud services they could not otherwise offer.
Companies offering partners marketplaces include cloud storage provider Box, AppDirect, which offers cloud-based app stores, and cloud infrastructure provider Rackspace, which built a cloud tools marketplace for software and services for its customers.
"AppDirect makes it easy for businesses to find, buy and manage applications," said Daniel Saks, co-CEO of AppDirect. "We make it easy for businesses to manage these apps."
As these cloud business models begin to emerge, uncertainty remains about creating cloud practices, said Jeff Kaplan, managing director of ThinkStrategies and an organizer of the Cloud Channel Summit.
"The speakers admitted that the cloud still engenders a lot of confusion," Kaplan said. "So there's still a long way to go. It [the confusion] has less to do with technology, because the technology is there. It has more to do with confusion about how the cloud impacts business relationships and the search for the right formula for success."
But Mike Bruno, vice president of business development with solution provider ASAP Systems, of San Jose, Calif., said he came away with some ideas about his fledgling cloud practice.
"My company is an on-premise solution provider, and we are transitioning to the cloud," he said. "We are trying to figure out the right mix where you go to a market, and these cloud marketplaces can do that."
PUBLISHED NOV. 6, 2012