In order to support mobility, social media and big data, a utility-type way to store all of the data and applications is needed, and cloud is the logical response. "In reality, lets face it -- it's always going to be a hybrid world. IT executives need a strategy to take advantage of the external or public cloud domain as well, because if you don't, your competitors will," Alexander said. Solution providers trade on the trusted relationships they've developed with their customers over time, but make no mistake, all of your customers either are or will be moving to the external cloud in some way, according to Alexander. Allowing someone else to gain a foothold with your accounts because of an external cloud-based relationship will only disintermediate you over time.
Solution providers must not forget about data integration as a service and must find ways to become masters of the cloud to extend their value propositions in new and profitable ways. "Adding cloud offerings and customers is not a marathon; it's a sprint race to profitability," said Alexander.