VARs Play Critical Role In Cloud Computing Sales Explosion

When it comes to cloud computing, the IT channel is the go-to source, according to a recent CompTIA study examining the growth of the cloud computing market.

According to the research, more than half of the end users CompTIA surveyed said they plan to make their cloud computing purchases from a third-party services provider defined as a VAR, solution provider or other channel organization. CompTIA surveyed 542 U.S.-based end users, influencers and solution providers as part of its study "Cloud Computing: Pulling Back the Curtain."

Additionally, CompTIA found that among customers with the largest planned investment in the cloud over the next 12 months 60 percent of them will turn to the channel as their source for cloud solutions and services, versus 40 percent of end users who said they plan to buy cloud solutions and services direct from vendors.

"The good news for IT channel companies is that customers want to use them as a source for their cloud computing solutions, more so than vendors, consultants or self-service options," Carolyn April, director, industry analysis said in a statement. "The smart solution provider will become the de facto expert on the benefits the cloud can bring; not just cost-savings, but ways that moving IT to the cloud can advance their customers' business objectives."

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Along with finding that the channel will be the leader in cloud offerings, CompTIA's study also revealed that over the next year cloud solutions and services will continue their growth momentum. The study revealed that 72 percent of end-user organizations plan to increase the number and types of cloud services they use over the next 12 months. Meanwhile 64 percent of them plan to boost their investment in cloud solutions by more than 5 percent in the coming year.

Next: End User Cloud Plans

From the end-user perspective, the move to the cloud is accelerating due to a desire to reduce capital expenditures and drive down costs, which was cited by 85 percent and 84 percent of end-users, respectively, as a catalyst for the cloud. Eighty-one percent of end users surveyed also said new IT capabilities were driving their move to the cloud, and noted that those new capabilities will enable solution providers to sell cloud as a value-added solution.

Meanwhile, mid-sized businesses, with annual revenues of $10 million to $99.9 million are the most aggressive in the cloud. CompTIA found that 64 percent of mid-sized businesses are currently in the cloud, compared to 36 percent of small companies and 58 percent of larger firms.

But despite the growth, some potential cloud buyers are still wary when it comes to integrating cloud solutions with existing systems and painful transitions away from legacy gear. The channel, too, has faced obstacles such as shouldering the initial start-up costs associated with cloud computing and determining the right revenue model.

Challenges aside, end users place cloud-based business productivity applications and document and content management solutions atop their IT shopping lists for the coming year. CompTIA found that 40 percent of end users plan to look to the cloud for business productivity applications and 38 percent said document and content management services are a priority. Other cloud services end users expect to buy in the next 12 months include security, 35 percent; and storage, 35 percent.

"Clearly there is growing momentum behind cloud computing, evidenced by climbing adoption rates and greater awareness," April said. "But cloud computing adoption is still nascent. The year ahead will be one of evaluation, trial and error and, most importantly, opportunity as the market sorts through the role IT channel companies will play, best business models, sales and marketing strategies and most relevant technologies."