Place Your Bets: The Cloud Business Window Is Closing


It's a sudden death overtime for any and all solution providers that have not made a big cloud computing bet. All you need to do to see that time is running out is look at some of the major moves executed by solution providers and vendors anxious to up their cloud solutions game.

No matter how you cut it, customer adoption of the cloud is happening at a faster pace than anyone anticipated, and it has all comers scrambling to play catch-up in what is sure to be an era of heightened channel conflict.

On the vendor front, Cisco Systems just scored a triple whammy at its Partner Summit with its own public cloud offering, the elimination of the Silver designation, and the requirement that Gold status partners invest more heavily in Cisco Powered Cloud and managed services offerings.

[Related: 2013 Solution Provider 500]

On the solution provider front, two longtime industry executives have proven that they're not content to sit on the cloud sidelines. Computex CEO Sam Haffar, who co-founded the company 26 years ago and built it into a CRN Solution Provider 500 power alongside his brother Jason, recently acquired Houston-based Cisco Gold Master MSP ENETsolutions. The deal gives Computex, also based in Houston, an elite ENETsolutions technical team providing a wide range of 24/7 recurring-revenue-based services from a multimillion-dollar, state-of-the art network operations center and data center in Houston.

The ENETsolutions deal marks a major step up in Computex's ability to provide its own cloud services, said Haffar. "We are going to be adding a lot more services offerings," he said. "We are going to look at monitoring everything from servers and storage and networks to offering hybrid cloud federated services."

Computex's cloud services are sure to compete at some point with vendor offerings. Haffar, for his part, said he is aiming to control the end-to-end customer experience with top-notch technical talent and quality of service. "We like to own our own IT assets and control the quality and level of services that we provide," he said. "That's why we call ourselves a ‘solution provider.' Our engineers make a big difference in the quality of service. This is not an outsourced service. It is our own people and our own infrastructure. It is about delivering an unparalleled customer experience. That's what keeps customers coming back."

Romi Randhawa, who founded HPM Networks 20 years ago and built it into one of the top Hewlett-Packard enterprise partners, No. 87 on the Solution Provider 500, also is in the game, leading the charge on a U.S. midmarket cloud offensive by negotiating to be acquired by $800 million German technology integrator Cancom Group. Randhawa, widely respected among his solution provider peers, said he felt the time was right to merge with a larger company given just how radically cloud computing is transforming the business. "VARs in the infrastructure space have to get to the next level, adding the software layer to the private cloud," he said.

Getting to the next level is what it's all about. It's time for all solution providers to put up or shut up.

BackTalk: Are you putting up to win in the cloud computing market? Contact Steven Burke at sburke@thechannelcompany.com.