In the past year, we’ve heard a lot about the tremendous opportunities available to channel partners who are willing to jump into cloud computing. And in my previous columns, I’ve described how the cloud offers channel partners a unique chance to provide customers with top notch service, adding more value at lower prices while still making steady profits doing it. But how do you get started? Here are some clues.
After hundreds of conversations with channel partners throughout North America, I’m convinced that those partners who wait for the cloud to envelop our entire industry before making a move will miss out. Much like we saw with managed services, the early movers who embrace the cloud will gain the advantage. Those channel partners who are taking it to the next level and specializing their practice will continue to lead the industry and set new records for growth and profitability.
Everything Old Is New AgainYet, specializing isn’t a new path for channel partners. We’ve been down this road many times before in the IT channel. A new technology category or delivery model hits the channel, creates a lot of interest and the industry runs with it. The technology or delivery model matures and adoption increases. Then what starts out as niche service becomes widely accepted and broadly applied, forcing resellers to become jacks-of-all-trades and, in turn, waters down their expertise. A few years later, these channel partners are forced to retrench and find a way to differentiate their business.
That same dynamic is likely to occur with the cloud in that it will go mainstream and many channel partners will try to own all aspects of it. These partners will struggle and many will go down swinging.
My key point: The fact is the cloud is just too broad for any VAR or MSP to really handle every part of it.
Get GoingChannel partners can cut to the chase faster when it comes to cloud solutions by avoiding the generalist path and specializing their practice on a few target technologies that will offer real added value to their customers. Pick a cloud platform (Azure, Force.com, Google, etc.), a technology area in the cloud (cloud security, Infrastructure-as-a-Service, etc.), or a service or application (on-premise to cloud database migration, private cloud building, etc.) and get to work.
The model is proven with successful cloud solution providers and MSPs such Appirio Inc., which specializes in cloud application development and SaaS implementation services, and Model Metrics, a CRM specialist working with Force.com, Salesforce.com, Google and Amazon, being recognized among the fastest growing partners with a lot of momentum behind them because they’ve specialized.
Real Success, Right NowThose MSPs aren’t spinning their wheels trying to command a seemingly endless list of cloud services such as IaaS, Saas, PaaS, hybrid, public and private clouds. Instead, they are focusing in on narrower components of the cloud and mastering the sale.
Specializing in a portion of cloud computing doesn’t mean you should abandon your focus on certain end user markets – whether it’s SMB, midmarket, large enterprises or certain industries. It does mean, however, that by honing in on a few areas of the cloud instead of trying to corral them all, you’ll be ahead of the game when it comes to marketing, branding, selling and supporting your services. You’ll also find yourself better positioned to take advantage of growth on specific platforms or categories in the cloud.
So what are you waiting for? Save yourself two years of headache. Specialize your practice and embrace what the cloud has to offer.
Jason Beal is the director of services sales for Ingram Micro North America. Monthly guest blog entries such as this one are part of MSPmentor’s annual platinum sponsorship. Read all of Jason's guest blog entries here.