Keys To Success In Cloud Computing

First and foremost, solution providers who've been successful in the space have shown true commitment to the model. "You are a revolutionary, and you know yesterday's technology is dying, as opposed to evolutionaries. They have two or four people committed to it. When you do something that you're not committed to, the results show it," said Bobby Napiltonia, senior vice president of worldwide sales and alliances at eMeter. "The hardest thing is to get off the crack of selling hardware and software and learn how to move over to selling success."

Emeter is in the smart-grid space. Instead of rolling trucks to customer sites, it performs remote disconnects and connects on the fly, services which are entirely new in the energy supplier market. The company is transforming how customer's buy energy, and how suppliers provide it. Second, while there is a lot of talk about cloud, solution providers can point to relatively few implementations of solutions. As Scott Lewis, Novell vice president of partner marketing and enablement, noted, "Ninety-five percent of the conversation is about cloud, but only about five percent is about implementation of cloud. Joining those worlds together is where were seeing some action."

For example, Len Couture, Managing Director at Bluewolf, described an implementation for a utility company that saved time and money by rolling trucks out to customer sites more efficiently. In addition, customer satisfaction increased. "It's about collaborating with the client, being able to understand what's going on inside the company, and around it."

Finally, while solution providers must be fully invested in the cloud -- having just partial interest as opposed to real interest is akin to throwing good money after bad, noted Mark Trang, Senior Director , Global Partner Marketing and AppExchange, -- they mustn't lose touch with their core competencies. Solution providers "tend to lose sight of that; they just want to jump in. The rules and economics of delivering value to customers doesn't change," said Trang. "They have a long-standing relationship with customers and are viewed as trusted advisor." Some expertise, such as a background in managed services, are more easily transferable than others. Build on those relationships while moving business to the cloud.

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A case in point is the American Data company. The solution provider, a long-time .net developer, got involved with and Google, and it now specializes in developing only cloud-based solutions. The change was not evolutionary but fundamental: The leader of the company saw how technology was moving toward the cloud and got on board, taking his customers, which include EBay and Farmers Insurance, with him.