Solution providers should be arming themselves with the latest virtualization technology today to prepare themselves for the adoption of private and public clouds tomorrow, according to Everything Channel CEO Robert Faletra.
"The cloud is going to be a significant part of this industry. It is going to present opportunities, but also challenges to business models," Faletra said during a keynote address Wednesday at COMDEXvirtual, the online conference hosted by CRN parent company Everything Channel. The show takes place November 16 - 17, and sessions are available on-demand until May 17, 2011.
Historically, the IT channel has experienced two kinds of trends: technological and business methodology changes, Faletra said. Examples of each are client/server computing and open-source technology. But cloud is different.
"Cloud is both a technology and a business methodology change. This opportunity can't be ignored. You really need to think hard about how cloud deployment is going to impact your business and you need to have a better business model," Faletra said.
End users expect cloud adoption to occur at a slower rate than solution providers, but the channel still needs to prepare their customers starting now, Faletra said. "The aggressive customers in virtualization today are preparing themselves to adopt public and private clouds tomorrow," he said.
While it's unlikely the cloud will entirely take over the market, its rapid rise is requiring traditional solution providers to transform their business models, Faletra said, even as those VARs can expect increased competition from traditional telco providers as well as new influencers and consultants, "who do not take title to products but will be partners or competitors, depending on where they are in the cycle," he said.
Everything Channel asked VARs why they don't participate in cloud-based solutions and respondents said they need to educate their staffs first and also that they're waiting for vendors to build their own strategies, Faletra said. But solution providers would be smart to develop their own cloud strategy now and not wait for others to catch up, he said.
"A lot of [vendors] talk cloud but not many have built a strategy yet. You need to build that data center and transition to the MSP [model] in some cases and hire the technical staff that can handle the skill base of the future," Faletra said. "Solution providers have to [ask], 'Has my supplier thought out what role they want to play? Are they going to be a cloud enabler or a cloud service provider?' That needs to be thought out. We're working with vendors now, helping them think about how their partner, program and strategy will change."
Next: Fewer VARs, More Competition