The traditional role of IT distributors will be just as relevant in the new cloud-computing era as it has been for the past three decades, according to established players in the market - though some admit challenges lie ahead.
Battle plans are being drawn out across the distribution channel in reaction to the as-a-service model, which is forecast to hit product sales across the classic two tier channel.
Westcon executive vice-president of global operations, Simon Minett told MicroScope that resellers would find building a portfolio of cloud services no mean feat.
"Activation and billing are challenging tasks for resellers and that is where distribution comes in, we'll also provide connectivity in aggregating solutions," he said.
"The role of distribution in bringing products to market, reducing complexity, driving reseller recruitment and training will be the same as it has been traditionally," added Minett.
Weston has sold hosted VoIP and security services for reseller customers to some years and had "cut our teeth on the various success and failure in that market" and momentum in the cloud movement was gaining pace.
"I will not say 2011 is the year of the cloud but in terms of the hype cycle, we are getting to a point where we'll start to see adoption growing and solutions becoming more credible," said Minett.
The role of distributors will remain unchanged in the cloud economy, agreed John Toal, UK country manager at Avnet Technology Solutions.
"We'll continue to be a sales and marketing organisations for vendors that we'll work with around cloud services," he claimed.
However, Steve Pearce, UK managing director at Arrow ECS, said that helping resellers and their customers transform datacentres was arguably the biggest revenue churner for distributors over the next few years.
"The commercial challenges are under estimated, distributor sales people buy discrete products, sell them and make a commission. But if you are selling a service there are SLA issues that need to be addressed in the sales process," he said.
"There is a risk that some distributors may become disenfranchised but the clever ones will commit resources and align to the cloud to overcome the commercial contractual issues. There is no doubt this is a fast developing market," said Pearce.