5 Steps To Cloud Channel Success

A Cloud Channel Is Key

"A vibrant cloud channel is critical to how we're going to scale … We're sort of all in this together," said Ron Huddleston, Salesforce.com senior vice president of ISV alliances.

And acting now is critical, Huddleston said. "The channel is still not shifting as fast as the market is," he said. And by not striking now, partners stand to miss out on a market that is experiencing 26 percent year-over-year growth.

Talking to a room full of vendors, ISVs and solution providers at the Cloud Channel Summit in Mountain View, Calif., Huddleston laid out a five-step plan to get both solution providers and vendors on board in the cloud channel. Here are the five steps.

Build An Organization Born For The Cloud

Many solution providers and vendors drop the ball when it comes to truly attacking the cloud. Cloud success, Huddleston said, requires a major investment and a true push. "You need a separate organization as much as humanly possible. Period," he said.

According to Huddleston, solution providers and vendors find success with the launch of cloud-specific businesses, practices or divisions. New channel organizations designed for the cloud work, while enhancing existing organizations that were designed for traditional software, won't produce the same results.

Focus On Customer And Partner Success

Keeping the customer happy and successful is the main focus for solution providers and vendors. And that should translate into the cloud as well. "Your relationship has to be stronger and deeper," Huddleston said. Cloud relationships don't end when a project is complete. And customers, solution providers and vendors have to have tight relationships that include an understanding of value propositions, strategies and roadmaps. Huddleston warned, however, that "you can't spread too thin." The cloud creates stronger relationships that last longer, but there aren't as many relationships as with a legacy model.


Understand Cloud Economics

Economics are different in the cloud. Huddleston outlined some of the key dos and don'ts as they pertain to cloud channel economics. And understanding the economics of the cloud will help avoid some of the pitfalls.

For solution providers, it's important to not overestimate the ramps and return of the cloud. It's also important to not underestimate the initial investment. For vendors, it's imperative that they trust channel partners are committed to the cloud; that they provide flexibility in models; and that they assume responsibility for their partner business transformations.

"Level-setting expectations is important," he said.

Be The Market Maker

Partner success relies on a vendor's ability to create a marketplace, offer supported selling models and provide tight leadership. Vendors that take charge of their market and bring partners aboard will find success.

Develop A Team Of Evangelists

Cloud providers and vendors must educate and inspire their team. Generating excitement is key and a team of evangelists is necessary to get the word out. Huddleston said that cloud technology is about a vision and a transformation, and what's to come tomorrow. "Customers want to buy into a vision of where this will take them," he said. Teams are different in the cloud, and formulating a crew of evangelists will spread the word and the mission, he said.