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Friends In High Places: The 2015 Cloud Partner Program Guide

CRN spotlights those companies devoting significant resources to their cloud partner programs and backing up partners with training, support and financial incentives.

The transition to cloud computing shows no sign of slowing down, continuing to remake all segments of the IT industry—including the channel.

The global market for Software-as-a-Service applications, $49 billion this year, will hit $67 billion in 2018, according to Technology Business Research Group. Global Infrastructure-as-a-Service spending will grow from $23 billion this year to $34 billion in 2018. Of particular interest to the channel: Sixty-four percent of small and midsize businesses are already using cloud-based applications with three applications the average adoption. Seventy-eight

percent are considering adopting new cloud apps in the next two or three years, potentially boosting the average number of applications used to seven, with 88 percent consuming at least one cloud service (according to computer consultant BCSG).

[Related: 2015 Cloud Partner Program Guide]

So what has your IT vendor done for you lately, cloudwise?

For the second year CRN offers the Cloud Partner Program Guide, putting a spotlight on the companies that are devoting significant resources to their cloud partner programs and backing up their channel partners with the training, support and financial incentives they need to be successful.

This year's list includes industry leaders like Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard and IBM, as well as young companies like Skykick, Qubole and Zerto. Some veteran companies have created cloud channel programs distinct from their established partner programs. For many younger companies, the cloud is their only business—and their cloud channel program is their only program.

One of the latter is Intacct, a supplier of SaaS accounting applications that has been growing at a rate of 40 percent to 50 percent a year. About 50 percent of revenue from new deals is through the channel, said Taylor Macdonald, vice president of channels at the San Jose, Calif.-based company.

Intacct has about 100 channel partners and plans on recruiting another 50 to 75 in North America over the next several years, Macdonald said in an interview. While some of those companies were "born in the cloud" and built their business models around cloud computing, some have been around for a while—manyselling Microsoft and Sage on-premise software—and are adapting to the new style of computing.

"There's a lot of folks getting used to a new business model, a new way to sell," Macdonald said. Intacct has expanded the training components of the Intacct Partner Program to help solution providers make the transition, offering education in how to help prospects understand the return on investment and total cost of ownership of cloud systems.

Newer to the channel is Xangati, a developer of service assurance analytics software used to monitor and maintain the performance of hybrid cloud and virtualized data centers. The San Jose vendor has largely sold direct since its 2006 founding, but launched a channel program in May. "You can attract only so many sales going direct," said Marketing Vice President Atchison Frazer, explaining in an interview the company's turn to the channel to achieve scale and critical mass. "There's no way we can attack a growth market, a greenfield market like cloud hosted applications, without the channel."

The company has already recruited more than 60 partners who generate about 15 percent of new deals for Xangati, a number Frazer expects to grow. And the company continues to recruit new partners, especially ones with expertise in VMware and Citrix virtualization. "We're going to continue to build that out in the next few quarters," Frazer said.

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