Analysis: Private clouds are the channel opportunities

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Analysis: Private clouds are the channel opportunities

Simon Quicke

When resellers are told that they must embrace the cloud and make their money by providing a services wrap, exactly what it is that constitutes the opportunity often remains vague.

For most, particularly in distribution, the cloud presents a potential revenue threat, where the vendor hosts and at best the channel can add its own white label package.

Vendors from all sections of the channel have piled in to promote hosted business intelligence, security and storage.

And with the recession gripping the wallets of corporates, the cloud has appealed because of the potential to move spending from cap-ex to op-ex by paying a monthly subscription which provides predictability and a degree of flexibility that is missing in the traditional annual license model.

But the confusion around where the opportunity lies for the channel in the cloud is perhaps a consequence of generalising what the technology stands for.

As the debate in the channel around the software as a service (SaaS) model emerges, it is becoming clear there are at least two broad definitions of the cloud.

The public cloud

On the one hand, there is the public cloud. A place where the likes of Amazon and Google have already steamed in, upsetting the traditional IT apple cart. These are large retail and web names, but not particularly established in the channel.

They have talked about massive server farms and apps that can be accessed anywhere via the web. Micro payment models have emerged that have forced some traditional technology vendors into a situation of playing catch-up.

In the respect of the public cloud there is going to be a challenge adding value on something that is relatively nebulous and the lines between personal and business uses are blurred.

The private cloud

But when it comes to the private cloud, something akin to an intranet, then the opportunity for the channel is clear.

"We are selling lots of servers to support that infrastructure," says one distributor.

That positivity is reflected by some resellers. "Ultimately, the private cloud is still an infrastructure play, and there is a need to service and support that," says one dealer.

These private clouds have been overlooked in the hype around the public activities, partly because of the large names and buzz, but also because the private clouds are potentially slightly less "sexy".

But for the channel, the private cloud is likely to be the first port of call for those looking to get involved in the market and generate revenue through additional services.

Some vendors, IBM included, are already bundling services that can be sold into that private cloud, so the complexity for a large number of partners seems to be dissipating.

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