Four Reasons Ignoring the Cloud Is No Longer An Option
Mark my words: June 2011 will go down as an historic month for cloud computing. Four reasons why: Apple’s iCloud (unveiled June 6), Hewlett-Packard CloudAgile/AgileCloud (potentially June 7), Google ChromeBooks for Business (coming June 15) and Microsoft Office 365 (coming June 28) each seem set to reach the spotlight this month, boosting the cloud computing noise to an entirely new level. Those mainstream cloud initiatives will further pressure VARs and MSPs to formulate cloud strategies as end-customer inquiries about cloud computing continue to grow.
Sure, there’s no guarantee that Apple iCloud, HP CloudAgile, Microsoft Office 365 and Google Chromebooks for Business will succeed. Some or all could fail. But that’s not the point. For VARs and MSPs, it’s time to develop informed viewpoints that you can share with customers.
Developing Opinions Based on Apple Moves: Which consumer-oriented cloud services, if any, are good enough for SMB customers? Apple iCloud won’t officially debut until Fall 2011. That means a summer of cloud hype from Apple and its followers.
Developing Opinions Based on Google Moves: Can all-in-one monthly services — including mobile hardware and software — really catch on with SMB customers? It’s already happened in the smart phone market. But can Google make it happen in the notebook and netbook markets with ChromeBooks for Business? If so, how can VARs and MSPs either cash in on such a service or develop alternatives?
Developing Opinions Based on HP CloudAgile Moves: Frankly, I don’t know enough — at least not yet — about the HP CloudAgile strategy. Multiple sources say it will emerge during this week’s HP Discover conference in Las Vegas. Some sources call it HP CloudAgile, others call it HP AgileCloud. Either way, the HP CloudAgile rumors started back at the Google I/O conference roughly three weeks ago in San Francisco. And they continued last week at the Ingram Micro Cloud Summit in Phoenix, Ariz. Already, Cisco has unveiled a Cisco Cloud Partner Program and IBM has unveiled a Cloud Computing Specialty for channel partners.
Now, HP is preparing to offer up its own cloud channel efforts. CEO Léo Apotheker briefly mentioned HP’s public cloud strategy during the HP Americas Partner Conference a few weeks ago. He hinted at plans to compete with Apple iTunes and Amazon Web Services. But Apotheker left a bunch of issues unanswered. Most specifically: Would HP’s public cloud strategy include channel partners? Keep an eye on the HP Discover conference this week for potential answers.
Developing Opinions Based on Microsoft Moves: Whether you embrace it or ignore it, the Microsoft Office 365 cloud suite should be a game changer for Microsoft channel partners. I suspect Office 365 will catch on with large enterprises and savvy small business customers that know how to procure cloud applications on their own. The big wild card: Will channel partners help Office 365 to catch on with additional SMB customers — especially those that need education and hand-holding along the way.
Got an Answer?
Over the past decade, VARs and MSPs spent considerable time telling customers about the value of managed services. But the rise of cloud computing is completely different. Increasingly, customers are the ones bringing up the topic of cloud computing.
For VARs and MSPs, it’s time to determine exactly where you will and won’t play in the cloud. Mainstream moves from Apple, Google, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft will dramatically crank up the cloud computing noise this month. It’s time for VARs and MSPs to have their own voices heard as well.