5 Tips For Working With Cloud Service Providers

Making It Work

As a broker of cloud services, a solution provider evaluating a hosting partner has to consider what's best not only for his client but also for his business.

It's up to the solution provider to make sure the arrangement works. "If I'm not working in my customer's best interest, it's not going to work for me," advises Paul Clifford, founder and president of the Davenport Group, a Dell partner.

Therefore, finding a cloud services provider that works for all parties is essential. Read on and learn some tips from solution providers for finding the right cloud partner

For a closer look at how solution providers can take advantage of opportunities in the cloud, see a preview of CRN's special report on how to succeed in the cloud, available Monday exclusively on the CRN Tech News app.

Make Sure The Margins Work

Solution providers first need to calculate how much money they can make, and as cloud services are based on recurring revenue rather than periodic hardware sales, the process is more complicated than in the past.

"How much money can we make?" asked Chris Pyle, CEO and president of Champion Solutions, a Microsoft partner.

"If the customer is going to spend $100,000 a year for a cloud solution, and if I can still make a realistic number, it becomes a transaction," said Clifford. "It depends on whether I can make a margin that's appropriate."

Check Out The Cloud Provider's History

Solution providers should investigate the cloud provider's experience and make sure the service is well tested.

"How many times have they done this before?" asked David Hoff, founder and CTO of Cloud Sherpas, a Google Apps and Salesforce.com integrator. "Public cloud solutions like Google, Salesforce and Workday are tested solutions and have large installation bases. Since they are multitenant, the migration experience is largely the same for each customer that is on-boarded. The cloud service provider should have consistent methodology that includes both the technical and training/change management needs of the migration process."

Ensure The Level Of Support Is Sufficient

In negotiating contracts with cloud service providers, it's essential they can provide what they promise.

"What is the level of support?" asked Patrick Monahan, president and owner of Iron Cove Solutions, a Microsoft, Google Apps, and Zetta partner. "You have to do a proper assessment before you deploy. You have to assess your network. Is it [the cloud service] going to tie into your network?"

Make Sure The Provider Can Accommodate Your Needs

Do you think you can get along with the provider and will it let you do what you need to do for your business?

"The ability to private label the solution is important," said Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global, formerly Horizon Info Services, a Google Apps integrator. "They are just the cloud provider, but you put your name on it and it's your product.

"Also, they can't sell around you," Falcon added. "The cloud landlord can't start contacting your client without your approval all the time."

Think About Long-Term Viability

Solution providers should look a few years ahead and consider how the cloud provider will fit if the client's business grows.

"Understand what the requirements look like long-term," said Cumulus Global's Falcon. "There is a lot of focus on margin, but how will you feel two years from now?"