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Cloud Computing: How VARs and MSPs Can Get Started

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Many of us within Cisco are increasingly being asked, “How will Cloud computing impact our partner models?”  Our answer is, it will vary by the practice capabilities and the role each partner wishes to play in helping their end customers begin to transition from premises-based IT investments to virtualized “IT as a Service” spend.

If you’ve read recent analyst and major SaaS vendor views on Cloud, most seem to concur that this early shift away from premises-based to usage-based cloud computing will be more disruptive to partners who are slow to enroll in cloud vendor programs and are reluctant to engage their customers on the Cloud computing conversation.

For partners wishing to get underway, I recommend starting by first acknowledging your own core “practice” competencies in the delivery of IT. Whether you manage and own complex WANs, build private data centers and LANs or provide complex desktop integration, your value proposition doesn’t need to markedly change. It simply gets expanded to address new options and offers that customers want to explore.

Where You Fit In

What does change, however, is the way cloud computing is bought and sold. Some partners will serve solely as private cloud builders, while others will serve as cloud service providers.  These cloud service providers will increasingly work with cloud resellers or aggregators in the delivery of software and IT as a service to clients.  Think of cloud resellers or aggregators as acting as a cloud solution broker – helping guide the customer to the best solution for their IT needs. In this capacity, instead of acting as a value added reseller, these broker partners will be paid for the clients’ usage of software on a unit-based consumption model.

Finally, partners should fully consider the role they wish to play in promoting their own competencies and brand. For some partners, simple agent agreements may suffice. For other partners, their professional services capabilities, network management investments and business brand are central to their value proposition.  Finding the right cloud partner program and leveraging the broader community of partners within the program is imperative.

Keep in mind that everyone has a network and their IT staffs are naturally concerned of the risks with moving some services and applications into the cloud.  Your role as a trusted cloud advisor can help guide the options available to your customers.  It’s time to get your feet wet.

Todd Roth is director, managed services, Worldwide Partner Organization at Cisco Systems Inc. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of The VAR Guy's annual sponsorship.

Discuss this Blog Entry 3

Ed Brooks (not verified)
on Feb 14, 2011
Todd - Would be interesting to understand what % of overall IT spend is already in the cloud/hosted model and how much more will be moving there. How significant of a shift does Cisco and other market players anticipate this being?
on Mar 16, 2011
Ed: To further Todd's points just read the mainstream media (BusinessWeek, Wall Street Journal). The mainstream media is typically 2 years or so behind major IT trends. In recent weeks, BusinessWeek and the Journal have each started using "cloud computing" as an everyday term. So, The VAR Guy suspects we're two years into the cloud boom and mainstream media has finally caught on. Side note: The vast majority of MSPs within this year's MSPmentor 100 survey results (http://www.mspmentor.net/top-100-msps) offer various cloud services. To Cisco's credit, the company launched a Cloud Channel Partner Program at the recent Cisco Partner Summit. Roughly 100 Cisco MSPs instantly qualify for the program. Bottom line: Cloud is real. The VAR Guy doesn't believe all the forecasts and predictions, but the market is growing. Fast. -TVG
on Mar 15, 2011
Ed- If I distill both internal and analyst views on IT spend for private and public cloud today- its in the single digits. Going forward however,the common analyst views through 2014 is 40% compunded annual growth(CAGR)for PaaS and somewhere around 24% CAGR for SaaS. Regardless of the growth targets you may subscribe to, transitioning to cloud is a significant shift and a conversation that many CTO's are ready to have with their trusted partners.
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