Shopping For Cloud Vendors

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While preparing for Everything Channel's upcoming Comdex Virtual event, I had the opportunity to speak with some of the IT industry's leading cloud computing solution providers. We discussed the current state of their business. We examined best practices for choosing business management tools. But perhaps most importantly, we explored vendor selection.

According to recent IPED research, more than 30 percent of solution providers have yet to invest in cloud computing solutions. When asked why, most responded that they are simply waiting for vendor partners to tell them what to do. They're waiting for training and education. They're waiting for vendors to lead the way instead of grading their ability to meet their needs.

Are you armed with the questions you need to ask when choosing vendor partners? Here are four things to consider:

No. 1: What is the vendor's place within the cloud?

The first things to determine are the vendor's segment and deployment model. Cloud computing is broken down into three segments: Software-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service and Infrastructure-as-a-Service. Once you establish the segment, you then need to determine which type of cloud service they are providing. Are they offering services through a public cloud? Are they a private cloud offering? Or are they a hybrid?

No. 2: What is the vendor's partner strategy?

If it hasn't already, the new cloud ecosystem eventually will alter the way your vendor runs its business. And with this change comes the need for you to fully understand various types of distribution models. Do you know if the products are easily packaged and channel-ready? Are they available through distribution for resale or sold directly with a referral fee? You also need to know if the vendor is introducing any new, nontraditional partners, such as telco, cable, wireless and retailers. IPED partner research indicates that up to 45 percent of traditional solution providers believe these new players will compete instead of partner.

No. 3: What is the vendor's remote monitoring and management strategy?

For those already transitioned to managed services, you have likely selected a remote monitoring and management platform (Kaseya, Level Platforms, etc). As software, servers and storage move to the cloud, customers are also retaining some of their applications within your hosted data centers. This results in a hybrid customer environment, which can be complicated. It will be important to monitor this space, as many remote monitoring and management players are already moving to an application programming interface scheme. This allows various cloud services and/or managed print services to "snap" into their monitoring platform, providing full view to manage the customer service level.

No. 4: What is the vendor's value proposition?

Has the vendor clearly packaged its cloud strategy and an overview of your ROI? In our experience, the larger the technology vendor, the more difficult this task can be. Look for a clear view of its investment in transformational training to help you make changes to your sales, marketing, service delivery capabilities and operations. The best and brightest are investing in education to ensure you are profitable in this new era.And it's up to you to make sure you're working with them.

BACKTALK: Contact IPED General Manager Rauline Ochs via e-mail at

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