Cloud computing represents both a threat to your reseller business and an opportunity.
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As the hardware margins of the past have faded, many resellers have embraced services and held onto only higher-margin server and storage hardware sales. A similar transformation will be required to profit from cloud services. Here are a few cloud partner opportunities to start thinking about:
Cloud partner and advisor services. New cloud services are springing up every week, and customers need advice on which ones are right for them. Local resellers or specialist vertical market resellers are well placed to be the trusted adviser who surveys the cloud offerings with an eye to specialist requirements. This service is hard to sell, so how about giving it away for free? Show customers and prospects what a nice organization you are by publishing this information and presenting it at local business shows. Use the expertise gained to start a dialogue with existing and new customers. Walk the fine balance between sales and giving away expert knowledge and time.
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As a cloud partner and advisor, it is useful to identify additional costs for implementing the services. Customers are often lured into cloud services with a low sticker price, only to find that there are additional costs they didn't realize before commitment. This is also an opportunity to initiate a conversation with customers about new cloud services they were unaware of that may suit their business.
Mobile technology implementation and services. Cloud services often implies access from multiple locations, so there are likely services that a cloud partner can implement around managed mobile devices. Cloud services also mean that Internet connectivity is critical to running applications. Implementing redundancy on the last mile link can improve reliability and speed.
Cloud audit. Customer uncertainty about what cloud services are in use by their staff is another opportunity. How many customers know whether staff are using Dropbox or Gmail to hold company data? A little traffic monitoring at the Internet gateway or review of installed software inventory information could yield some interesting information. In addition any time you get to do audit work for a customer you will uncover additional opportunities for remediation services.
Cloud usage policies. Next would be the usage policy, after all, staff use these services to get the job done. Customers should be embracing these options if compliance allows and communicating when use of the cloud creates a compliance problem. Formulating and communicating policies around the use of cloud services will help customers to adopt and benefit from cloud services. The research you did for the Cloud Adviser role will pay off here as you already know the cloud services.
Cloud service provider. For resellers that have developed a specialization in a particular vertical, particularly those that have developed applications for that vertical, the cloud service delivery brings a lot of new potential customers. It should be a given that if you’re developing an application then you will look at moving it to a Web service. The simpler code maintenance and an annuity income model are huge benefits, especially with access to a global market .
Local cloud infrastructure. Another opportunity is where local regulations and information sovereignty issues mean that there is an appetite for a local cloud service even when an existing service answers the technical needs. In this case the reseller may well work with a local ISP business or foundation client to implement a specialized cloud service.
Migration to the cloud. Cloud services offer a wonderful world where all your information is available all the time. What about data that existed before the cloud service? Helping customers get their historical data into new cloud applications is a service that each customer needs only once but many customers will need. This is another opportunity for resellers in a vertical market with specific cloud services. Of course once the data is in the cloud how about backup and disaster recovery? Again the Cloud Adviser research will have revealed what services have backup and DR and which ones require additional services.
As with all changes in IT the move to cloud services is both a threat and an opportunity. The resellers that thrive will be the ones that recognize the opportunity and act on it. If you aren't already looking at the opportunities and helping customers get the benefits of cloud services you can be sure your competitors will be very happy to help your customers.
About the author
Alastair Cooke is a freelance trainer, consultant and blogger specializing in server and desktop virtualization. Known in Australia and New Zealand for the APAC virtualization podcast and regional community events, Cooke was awarded VMware’s vExpert status for his 2010 efforts. Follow him on Twitter @DemitasseNZ.