Tapping into a Tech Support Network in the Cloud
One of the more challenging aspects of being a solution provider in the age of the cloud is that the number of vendors that a solution provider can have on their line card could theoretically be infinite. The only really limiting factor is access to the level of support required to properly represent any given cloud application or service.
With that particular issue in mind, PlumChoice has created a network of independent IT support specialists that solution providers can tap into to provide support for cloud applications. Dave Hauser, director of channel development for PlumChoice, said the cloud is an area that PlumChoice has made one of its primary support focuses because many of the solution providers that operate in the cloud are using business models that depend heavily on contract labor to provide support for their customers. The challenge they face, however, is the amount of time and effort that goes into first finding people with the skills required and then making sure those resources are consistently available.
PlumChoice, said Hauser, takes the weight of both managing those people, while also making sure the available pool of talent actually has both the technology skills needed and a personality predisposition towards actually wanting to help customers.
At the moment, the only alliance with a vendor that PlumChoice is willing to reveal involves AppDirect, which inside the channel essentially operates as a distributor of both cloud application and infrastructure services.
PlumChoice claims to have established a network of over 700 independent technicians, with 200 of those folks apparently qualified to provide pre-sales tech support as well. The end result is a Tier One support network that is available to solution providers in the channel on a 24/7 basis, said Hauser.
The degree to which solution providers may feel comfortable with augmenting their existing IT staffs or even replacing them altogether will naturally vary. But because the technicians that participate in the PlumChoice network don’t show up on the balance sheet of the solution provider as a full-time employee, the PlumChoice approach to providing tech support has some natural appeal to it assuming, of course, those technicians are actually certified.
Obviously, it’s hard to verify what level of skills the technicians participating in the PlumChoice network actually have. But given the relative risk versus the potential rewards, there’s more than a few solution providers out there probably interested in experimenting with new ways to provide tech support at scale in the age of the cloud.