Five Questions VARs Must Consider for Cloud Success
It seems these days you can’t turn on the TV, read your email or browse the Web without seeing the word “Cloud” somewhere. Oh sure, sometimes it’s actually a reference to the weather, but for problem solvers in the IT channel like you and me, it’s all about opportunity. But for VARs, you need to explore at least five key questions as you formulate a cloud strategy. Here’s why.
Until recently, the thought of a cloud or another disturbance lurking on the technology horizon instilled a sense of fear, or at least healthy skepticism in many solution providers. Those were understandable reactions too, since the topic was already making its rounds via social media as the next “sink or swim” IT business challenge.
Fortunately, the apprehension that surrounded cloud in its infancy seems to be giving way to a more curious and welcoming stance. It could be that the dozens of “cloudy” metaphors we’ve all heard have made it seem less foreboding, but regardless of the cause, the cloud market is rapidly evolving—as is its adoption by technology suppliers, value-added distributors like Avnet Technology Solutions, resellers and end customers.
Aim for the (Whole) Cloud
At its core, the cloud presents a new set of options for providing many of the services that solution providers may already be offering to customers. At Avnet, we separate the cloud opportunity into three segments:
- Private – an extension of current solutions that partners are providing to end customers. Usually deployed on premise, these services are defined as integrated technology infrastructures coupled with management tools and professional services. Think of it as IT as a service.
- Hybrid – an extension of our managed services business which leverages the current capabilities, tools and hosting environments by extending the capability to support emerging cloud architectures. Usually deployed off premise, hybrid clouds leverage our (Avnet) hosting facilities and resources to administer and support the cloud infrastructure environment. This model can provide savings in physical and soft infrastructure costs.
- Public – the most dynamic segment, with adoption primarily in the SMB and consumer space. IT organizations in the mid-market and enterprise space looking more seriously for ease of use and economies of scale will begin to leverage more public clouds in the future. The opportunity for Avnet and our partners will be to provide the tools and services to integrate Public cloud capabilities.
At first glance, it might seem easier to target only one or two cloud segments, but the greater opportunity for partners is to play a holistic role in helping end customers create a comprehensive cloud strategy spanning the private, hybrid and public spaces.
Keep in mind there’s increasing pressure for IT organizations to have a solid cloud strategy these days. Many IT leaders are accustomed to working within the walls of their data center only, so your ability to help customers look beyond those walls to leverage the benefits of cloud architecture and cloud services helps to affirm your position as their trusted advisor.
Your Strategic Cloud Plan: 5 Questions to Ask
You’ve heard me talk recently about the tremendous growth opportunities of vertical markets such as healthcare, government, energy and utilities, retail and the financial IT market. For a growing number of end customers in those markets, private, hybrid and/or public cloud options are becoming a reality. Knowing which cloud offerings are appropriate for each vertical is an increasingly important skill that an end customer will ask of their solution provider.
If you’re not already ramping up to offer cloud solutions to your customers, I would strongly encourage you to do so. While the cloud market is still fairly new, there are plenty of resources available to help you get started. When choosing a partner to help you establish sales in cloud services, ask yourself these questions:
- How can I learn to develop a strategic plan for cloud sales?
- How do I position cloud to a customer?
- Where can I turn for sales and technical cloud education?
- Who can help me evolve my technical capabilities?
- How can I leverage the capabilities I have now, but fill in gaps as needed?
Avnet launched an initiative last summer called CloudReady to help our partners understand the nuances of the Cloud and the growth potential it presents. As with all of our SolutionsPath opportunities, education and enablement are key elements of our strategy.
Cloud computing is a USD $150 billion market. By aligning your business and its offerings to leverage the potential of the Cloud, you could capture a sizeable share for yourself.
Michael Houghton is VP of vertical market solutions for Avnet Technology Solutions, Americas. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of The VAR Guy’s annual sponsorship. Read all of Houghton’s guest blogs here.