Is Cloud a threat or an Opportunity for the Channel? [Part 2 of 2]

By narayanam_jr|4th Jul 2012
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Cloud
In the Part 1 of this article, I discussed how the Cloud impacts the reseller ecosystem. Let’s see how the Cloud presents a clear opportunity to the channel. It is very clear that the channel has to evolve with the Cloud. Apart from selling the Cloud services, the following are the scenarios that the reseller will get involved –

Cloud Migration – Any SME looking at investing in the Cloud requires a plan to move the existing on-premise assets to the Cloud. One of the common scenarios is moving the on-premise email servers based on Exchange or Lotus Notes to Office 365 or Google Apps. Though it may not be a complex migration, it does require quite a bit of planning and execution. Same is the case when moving the CRM system to Salesforce.com or Dynamics CRM. External facing Line-of-Business applications like trading partner integration and supply chain management may be moved to a PaaS offering like Windows Azure or Force.com. This requires more effort than moving to SaaS. Finally, replacing the physical servers with VMs on Cloud is the most common use case and involves a lot of planning. Defining a solid migration strategy and executing on it is a huge opportunity for resellers who are already skilled enough in deploying an Active Directory or Messaging server. By identifying the key migration scenarios across shrink wrapped products to Line of business applications to moving the physical servers, the reseller can realize a huge upside in the business. In short, the channel becomes the new conduit to the Cloud.

Cloud Integration – Hybrid Cloud is the biggest enabler of the enterprise Cloud adoption. Most of the enterprises are looking at protecting the existing investments while moving to the Cloud. Moreover, there are workloads that continue to run on-premise with secure connectivity to the Cloud. Defining the hybrid strategy and bridging the gap between on-premise and Cloud is a big ticket revenue opportunity for the resellers. Apart from fork-lifting the workloads and running them on the Cloud, the reseller can now provide strategic Hybrid Cloud offering to securely extends the datacenter of the enterprises. This is a niche skillset but a worthy investment.

Cloud Aggregation – As the choice of Public Clouds increase, Cloud aggregation is bound to happen. For example, an organization might want to move different workloads to different Cloud providers and the reseller just becomes the single point of contact to deal with multiple providers. In a sense, the distributor and the reseller assume play the same role as they always played in the traditional software procurement lifecycle. They just become the face of multiple Clouds and make it seamless for the customer to negotiate and deal with the Cloud providers. Of course, the reseller technical team must be skilled enough to tackle multiple Cloud platforms.

Cloud Operations – This is an interesting opportunity in the era of Cloud. Assuming that the reseller plays the role of the internal IT for SMEs, they are responsible for keeping the lights on. Moving to the Cloud is just a part of the story but managing and maintaining the Cloud deployments is very complex. Given that Cloud is prone to failures and outages, it is extremely important to handle the disruptions gracefully. The VMs, applications and the customer deployments need to be constantly monitored for unusual patterns that need attention. Companies like NetEnrich play a crucial role in enabling and empowering the VARs to leverage this opportunity. NetEnrich offers a platform for VARs to effectively manage the customer infrastructure running anywhere between the closet and the Cloud.

It is time for the channel to embrace the Cloud and start exploiting the opportunity. They should identify the principal vendors / service providers to partner with and start investing in a Cloud readiness plan for the technical teams.

- Janakiram MSV, Chief Editor, CloudStory.in

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