2016 Cloud Partner Programs Guide: The Cloud's Cutting Edge

The cloud is driving every major trend in enterprise IT—from big data and analytics, to mobility, machine learning, agile software development and the Internet of Things—and making those cutting-edge technologies accessible to businesses in ways never before imaginable.

The cloud is also the underlying platform that's enabling a massive paradigm shift in how employees work, how vendors interact with their customers, and how partners collaborate.

The benefits organizations of all stripes derive from those new technological capabilities and operational methods present an extraordinary opportunity for the channel to drive business.

[Related: 2016 Cloud Partner Programs Guide]

Sponsored post

"I hear from VARs almost daily who are looking for new services to create from the cloud," Steve Kazan, senior director of channel development at ScienceLogic, a cloud management software vendor, told CRN. "We are seeing many more VARs becoming cloud-focused solutions providers and they are looking for ways to monetize their services."

The market is growing faster than analysts had anticipated, and enterprises and SMBs alike are rapidly embracing cloud-first initiatives, said Rocco Seyboth, vice president of product and marketing at BitTitan, a vendor that helps MSPs on-board cloud customers and manage their environments.

"Adopting the cloud is no longer optional. If a business wants to survive, it needs the cloud and it needs to make money in the cloud," Seyboth told CRN.

As public cloud adoption skyrockets while on-premise infrastructure remains firmly entrenched, born-in-the-cloud solution providers, like Boston-based Cloud Technology Partners, are looking to differentiate their practices by enabling IT transformations to hybrid, multicloud environments.

"We're focusing more on governance and management as enterprises reach the tipping point of the number of workloads they have on cloud-based platforms," said David Linthicum, senior vice president at Cloud Technology Partners.

But for many legacy partners, grappling with deployment, migration, management, integration and governance of workloads astrewn across public providers and private clouds is one example of the multitude of new challenges.

Thorny issues around data security, mobile identity management, and integration of disparate data silos produced by competing platforms from rival vendors are enough to make any solution provider's head spin.To help enterprise customers reap the benefits of cloud while avoiding treacherous terrain, the channel needs vendor enablement, through quality partner programs, more than ever.

"The vendors and cloud providers need to keep on an innovative track. They need to focus on what's helpful, and address a pain point," said Linthicum.

"Those that understand that they need to build a better mousetrap, but know what mousetraps will be important in five years, are the ones that are going to be most disruptive, and thus most helpful to those implementing systems within clouds," he said.

The partner programs are as diverse as the technologies themselves. Not all incorporate the same monetization strategies, investment requirements and opportunities for profitability.

Sifting through the various programs—with their tiers and certifications and incentives and compensation models—can be more complicated than evaluating the technology itself. But those nuances are critical for solution providers to understand, informing decisions that can make or break their practices.

Kazan, of ScienceLogic, said partners ultimately are looking for a value proposition that makes them money, such as a service subscription model, technology that minimizes calls to tech support and maximizes customer satisfaction, as well as training and reference material that helps their teams master the technology.

Finally, partners want "a vision of where cloud technology is going and how we will get there together," he said.