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Four Cloud Computing Questions VARs Must Ask Their Customers

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“The cloud” seems to be everywhere these days. News outlets are heralding it as the end-all, be-all of technologies. Your customers hear the hype and suddenly they’re asking you for it … often without even knowing what they’re asking for or why they really want it. As a VAR, it’s easy to pick a cloud solution from any number of providers, but if you’re looking for a product that best meets your customers’ needs and lines up with your business model, you’ve got a much more difficult decision. Here’s how to get started.

All cloud solutions are different. Because many customers – and tech companies for that matter – are in the early phases of cloud definition and adoption, customer requirements are likely all over the map. As you evaluate available products and services, ask your target customers a few important questions (and answer them yourself):

  1. What problem do you want the cloud solution to solve?
  2. What most attracts you to the cloud?
  3. What are the key characteristics of your application or workload?
  4. What business or security constraints do you have that must be considered?

After asking our own customers these questions, we (The Planet) started analyzing the responses and making sense of the data. Depending on your business, you might find your users localized in one of these general use cases:

Understanding the use-case priorities is one of the best ways to frame the problem you’re trying to solve. If you know you want a product that appeals to customers who require an extension to their existing infrastructure, remind yourself not to get caught up in features most appealing to users in a demo or development environment. One solution won’t meet the needs of everyone. The sheer number of options can paralyze any decision-making process.

In the process of working with our partners and resellers to design and create a cloud platform that best meets their business needs, we built a six-step decision framework. It calls out the most common misconceptions about the cloud and offers recommendations when evaluating a cloud platform. In future posts, we’ll touch on some of the questions you should ask when it comes to a given solution’s availability, performance characteristics, demand volatility, management needs, integration requirements and security profile.

Don’t let the ubiquity of the cloud intimidate you. We’ll help you boil it down to easy questions with definite answers.

Drew Jenkins is manager of channel sales for The Planet. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of The VAR Guys’ annual sponsorship.

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