The VAR Guy Blog

VAR Guide to Selecting a Cloud Computing Platform

Once you have answers to the four cloud computing questions all VARs must ask their customers, you’re faced with the intimidating task of choosing a cloud solution to meet your customers’ needs. All too often, VARs take a shotgun approach to selecting cloud technologies and platforms. Here's a guide to getting it right.

The misguided thought is that if you incorporate and make available every possible option, at least one of them will meet the needs of each of your customers. While that approach creates a broader service offering and gives the impression of flexibility, it also passes the burden of demystifying and testing the various cloud platforms along to your customers – who are probably as intimidated as you are by the sheer number of options and ambiguous buzzwords flying around.

Warren Buffett makes it a point to invest only in businesses he can understand, and that prudent approach is just as valuable to you and your business as it is to Berkshire Hathaway. You should understand the value propositions, limitations and differentiators of all of the products in your catalog. Unfortunately, that’s no small task when it comes to cloud computing solutions. It seems like every provider promises the moon, so we established a six-step decision framework that can be used to qualify potential cloud solutions.

Each step has an accompanying misconception; so, without further ado, here are the key areas we encourage customers to evaluate:
  1. Availability: “All cloud platforms are highly available and globally distributed.”
  2. Performance: “You can swap your dedicated server infrastructure for a cloud infrastructure, one for one.”
  3. Demand Volatility: “All clouds scale automatically, infinitely and seamlessly.”
  4. Management Needs: “Cloud services are a solution to all of our sysadmin problems.”
  5. Integration Requirements: “Cloud is going to replace all in-house data centers in the next few years.”
  6. Security Profile: “The cloud is inherently insecure.”
Have you heard any of those statements in conversation? If you haven’t, it’s just a matter of time. People love to paint the cloud with broad strokes, and it’s not until you start looking more closely that you can make sense of what it means for your business. Over the course of the next few posts, we’ll dive into each step of the decision-making framework and its accompanying misconception. Rather than rattle off bullets and facts, we’ll employ the Socratic method by asking more questions you can answer for your business.

At the end of the road, you’ll have created your own custom, comprehensive approach to the terrifying prospect of making sense of the next “latest and greatest” hosting technology.

Our collective goal is to create a strategy that will be used to evaluate all hosting-related products in the future. Our mantra for this series of posts will be the idiom, “Measure twice, cut once.” Take it from a guy who’s gone back to the hardware store more than a few times for replacement boards: You should establish this kind of foundation early.

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.

Discuss this Blog Entry 2

Shahab (not verified)
on Oct 29, 2010
Drew, What do you think about VARs testing the waters through ISV which don't require you to build or bet on a cloud platform on which you build specific offerings. i.e. becoming a reseller of Intronis for Backup, or HyperOffice or Office 365 for messaging amp; collaboration, SalesForce for CRM etc?
chrisRobert (not verified)
on Oct 29, 2010
Rackspace has a special service called `Stack as you go' - I guess a nomenclature such as this would inspire new growth at a steady pace. Clouds need to be implemented and then next they need to be fully secured right of way. This has to be done in order to keep intruders out. Also, the structure of the cloud is very important, since it is the framework that connects your services to the public and so on. Citrix C3 Cloud Enterprise Suite also proves as a good candidate. It has a realm of around-the-clock and up-to-date add-ons that make these others look like mere storage companies. They've got the user friendly and fully functional juice that others do not yet have.
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