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Cloud computing is creating new opportunities for solution providers, but it's fair to say most could use a little guidance on the best way to expand into this new area.
IBM Tuesday at COMDEXvirtual said its getting in front of the problem by providing products, training and other resources to its channel partners to help them move into cloud computing.
Michael Heegaard, director of cloud computing for the IBM business partner organization, shared strategies partners can use in the cloud market and detailed how IBM supports and enables business partners to create, sell and deploy solutions based on public and private cloud platforms.
Heegaard spoke during a session 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.
Cloud computing is a new model for delivering and consuming computing capabilities, Heegaard said. "There is instant capacity on tap," he said, referring to cloud computing's on-demand, self-service approach with location-independent resource pooling, ubiquitous network access, rapid elasticity and flexible pricing.
All of this means more options for business partners. Solution providers can become cloud components suppliers, Heegaard said, delivering the hardware, software and maintenance services customers need for cloud computing. Or they can become cloud system builders that design, develop and deploy cloud systems and provide training for clients.
Other roles for solution providers include becoming a cloud services reseller, packaging public cloud offerings and managing them for customers; becoming a cloud operator managing a public cloud or a customer's private cloud system; becoming a cloud aggregator, offering a collection of cloud services targeted at a specific market; and becoming a cloud advisor where the partner focuses on the planning aspects of cloud computing.
"All of these partner roles are distinct and have their own business model," Heegaard said. Cloud component suppliers will largely rely on one-time reseller margins to generate profits, for example, while cloud service resellers will generate recurring subscription revenue. "The business models are different and the skills and the content you will need to be successful are different as well," he said.
Solution partners must be "very deliberate" in determining which business model applies to them and their market, based on their current business and how they want to grow, Heegaard said. But he also said there is no magic formula for success, and he cautioned partners to "be ready to make some mistakes" as they expand into cloud computing.
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