The outlook for some technology distributors is starting to get cloudy — in a good way. Distributor D&H is teaching resellers in the SMB space how to transition their end users toward cloud-based technologies, including hosted network management, storage and security solutions from industry giants such as Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) and Iomega (NYSE: IOM).

D&H is supporting Microsoft's cloud initiative by way of its "SMB Smart Cloud Solutions," a collection of products designed to increase productivity through hosted IT services and applications. These technologies include the Microsoft Office 365 suite; collaborative versions of Office's standard business tools; Windows Intune, which lets end users secure and manage and their PCs from virtually anywhere; and Microsoft Dynamics CRM, which delivers cloud-based access to the end user's customer data. To educate resellers about Microsoft's cloud platforms, D&H and Microsoft are presenting the Cloud Smart Solutions Webcast Series. The next webcast is slated for May 3, 2012, and is titled, "Top 10 Cloud Partner Resources."

D&H VARs also can gain incremental revenues through managed services via Cisco's cloud-based OnPlus service. OnPlus is an Internet-based platform that lets resellers conduct remote managed network assessment and repair through a data portal. The OnPlus 100 Network Agent appliance, which resides at the end user's premises, gives granular insight into the customer's network, so VARs can quickly troubleshoot, optimize performance and perform routine maintenance from a Web interface.

Other products available from D&H include the Iomega 2T StorCenter cloud-based server, with 2TB of online storage; EVGA's PColP PD02 Zero Client for cloud computing, which facilitates centralized computing for users ranging from local LANs to remote WANs; and the NComputing U170 thin client-connected desktop kit, a USB-based, virtualized desktop device that connects to a host PC for shared computing.

Dan Schwab, co-president at D&H, said the cloud represents a break-through shift in how SMBs can store, deliver and access their data and applications, but those businesses need guidance as to what kind of cloud capabilities will best serve their business models. “That's where we come in for the VAR, educating them on a range of SMB-scaled options in the cloud," he said.