Cloud Partnerships An Option For Solutions Providers: Analyst

Solution providers considering the cloud as a new service model should get ready for a new way of doing business, one with new service models, pricing practices and new relationships.

Tiffani Bova, vice president of research at Gartner, told about 700 attendees Wednesday at Ingram Micro Cloud Summit 2012 that solution providers are beginning to tackle these issues as they evaluate cloud business models.

’The good news is I feel we are finally gaining momentum to bring these [cloud] services to market,’ said Bova. ’There is tremendous opportunity, plenty of ways for you to figure out how to bring value to your customers.’

[Related: SMBs Entering The Cloud: Five Things To Nail Down First ]

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But many solution providers have not found their way in the cloud and developed a workable plan to offer cloud services, she said.

Solution providers need to think differently as the cloud offers new ways of offering technology and services that may require collaborating with other providers, she said.

’It’s not about technology. It’s about the services users consume,’ Bova said. ’It’s ’Bring-Your-Own-IT.’ An end-user is not going to consume technology and services in the cloud from one place. So if you can’t manage it, you can consider working with others who can. You either become a cloud service provider or you leverage one. Types of cloud services include aggregation, integration brokerage and customization," she said.

Telecos dominate the aggregators’ market outside the U.S., but ’the good news is you have time to figure out how to get ahead of the telcos,’ she said. ’Integration brokerages are where application development is crucial.’

Companies such as Appirio and Cloud Sherpas are succeeding in the integrators’ market in part due to expertise in application development. ’Don’t think this is a big man’s game,’ Bova said.

For customization, providers focus on spinning up services according to their customers’ needs.

Bova said these services will bring new revenue streams as recurring revenue rather than in traditional sales. ’The trend is not consumption and transactions, and the margins you’re going to make,’ she said. ’What matters is how are you going to customize for the customer and make it unique for them.’

NEXT: Partner Up

Bova said solution providers should consider partnerships, including with distributors such as Ingram Micro, which bring to market complex cloud services.

’When is being a cloud service provider right for you?’ she asked. ’The platform Ingram Micro put together is a great way to figure out where you want to go. You can accomplish a whole lot by working with partners to deliver this complexity.’

Bova cited Gartner research showing 57 percent of solution providers surveyed said they believe they have the right skills to provide cloud services, but 52 percent reported they didn’t have the sufficient sales skills. ’Think about whether you have the right sales staff to take you where you want to go,’ she said.

Whichever model they choose to adopt, solution providers need to provide customers with an agile cloud service that can stay abreast with the rapidly changing market and bring their customers into the cloud.

’CIOs say the number one thing they want is growth. If they want growth, who’s making decisions in the organization about growth? IT? IT is still focused on running data centers,’ Bova said. ’You need to focus on growth, and you’ll have a healthy business.’