The cloud has blurred the lines between IT and business and it has also spawned a host of different definitions highlighting exactly what is the cloud and who sells into it.
In a keynote presentation Monday at the Cloud Channel Summit in Mountain View, Calif., Amy Anderson, IBM Cloud Computing Partner Program manager, took the cloud definition-bending one step further and noted that the cloud is also single-handedly creating new camps of solution providers with different disciplines and specializations.
"The cloud necessarily blurs the definitions of types of partners," Anderson said, noting that cloud providers now fall into five distinct camps: cloud infrastructure providers, cloud application providers, cloud services solution providers, cloud technology partners and cloud builders, all of which have different competencies in the cloud.
According to Anderson, cloud builders construct private clouds and are likely former hardware resellers building a practice around cloud computing. Cloud infrastructure providers build public clouds and in some cases create an environment where their clients behave like partners. Cloud application providers are ISVs that build SaaS apps delivered on a cloud and that want to drive usage off their cloud applications. Cloud Technology Providers are also ISVs who deliver tools and services to "make the cloud a better place." And cloud services solution providers are classic resellers that take on selling cloud services.
As cloud providers find themselves defined by the different partner types, Anderson said each one fulfills a certain need for clients, which she said IBM has found have four distinct reasons for getting into the cloud.
"Cloud computing is not just a way to lower costs for the client," she said.
Cloud clients fall into four distinct categories based on their needs. Some clients want to cut IT expenses and complexity through cloud-enabled data centers. Others are seeking to accelerate cloud time to market with cloud platform services. Some potential cloud clients are looking to gain immediate access with business solutions in the cloud. And lastly, some clients seek innovative business model to become a cloud service provider.
Anderson said that cloud computing has caused companies to rethink IT and reinvent business, and they will turn to partners to be brought into their specific cloud needs. For partners, it's up to them to determine what role they will play in the cloud and what path they'll take to execute on cloud opportunities.
"The channel can reinvent business and get into new markets," she said.