Distributors are getting in on the buzz surrounding cloud computing to ensure they are not left out in the cold next year when the market is forecast to take-off.
The future involvement of distributors in the cloud-based IT economy is already under debate, with some talking of becoming aggregators, looking at hosting options or in the case of CMS Peripherals just adapting its business model.
The London-based distributor has just two cloud vendors - email security vendor MXSweep and online back-up player KeepITSafe - but is looking to develop the portfolio in preparation for a planned seminar in Q1.
"Our role is to help resellers work with the vendors, whether it be training, accreditations, deal registration, lead generation or marketing, the cloud does not remove that need" said Joe Fagan, group product marketing manager at CMS.
He said it was talking to two infrastructure-as-a-service providers and hoped to have six vendors in the cloud portfolio by March 2011, when CMS plans to hold a seminar addressing key issues in the market.
Avnet Technology Solutions is currently piloting a SaaS initiative in Germany with a third party which provides the back-end infrastructure but is sold by resellers.
"We will handle a lot of the messy billing but we also see ourselves as an aggregator of solutions," said Avnet EMEA boss Graeme Watt.
"We expect the reseller to finalise the business, take some commission and offer consultancy to the end-user organisation," he added.
Distributors are trying to develop a portfolio of services to head off continued product price declines and the new way in which IT is provisioned, said Tim Wallis, CEO at Microsoft BPOS poster boy Content and Code.
"I think distributors will be forced into moving into services, it will not happen tomorrow but in five years time the market could look very different," he said.
The market for cloud services will erupt next year, Wallis added, because Microsoft is marketing the hell out of the technology and educating users with aging IT estates that are getting nearer to refresh to mandatory refresh stage.
"It will reach a point when it will suddenly go boom, I think by the end of Q1, and everyone [in the channel] will be trying to sign up contracts," he claimed.