It seems as if the whole of theIT world has become thunderstruck by the cloud. This isn't surprising: having accessto a massive variety of IT services and infrastructure without having to worryabout the accompanying physical technology and in-depth expertise, is a hugeboon both for businesses and the resellers that serve them. For example,Business Intelligence (BI), previously restricted to organisations with thetime, resources and expertise to undertake a massive project, can now beoffered over the cloud, making it far more accessible to many moreorganisations and opening up new markets. As a result, by partnering with cloudservice providers, resellers and systems integrators can offer a whole range ofnew services to their customers.
However, these new markets willonly prove fruitful if resellers can differentiate themselves. For example,take cloud-based storage. Resellers can offer more storage, or longer-termstorage, for less money. They can also aim to guarantee security and dataprotection levels. Beyond these essentially limited parameters, there is littleopportunity for a reseller to make their mark. As a result, other methods areneeded to help make a service more attractive.
One way to do this is to provideservices that do much more than just the basics. For example, in order todifferentiate its cloud storage offering, a reseller could provide in-builtanalysis tools. Customers would have the benefits of secure, scalable storagecoupled with the ability to instantly analyse and gain full value from any datastored. This makes the service far more valuable, especially as businesses tryand wring value out of every last drop of data.
Resellers should also considerhow their services are offered. One benefit of the cloud is that services don'tneed to be an all-or-nothing choice. Unlike the majority of cloud serviceproviders, resellers and service integrators have the flexibility to tailortheir offerings more exactly for their customers. They can therefore offerservices on, for example, an on-demand basis. Again, using BI as an example,services could be offered per-project, per-department or per-data set, makingBI an attractive option for businesses without the budget for a full-scaleimplementation, or who want to test the water before committing themselves.
Hardware revenues are currentlyin decline. As a result, services over the cloud are an excellent new revenuestream for resellers. By forming partnerships and successfully differentiatingthemselves in this market, resellers can take a primary role in educatingcustomers about the potential the cloud provides. Whether by providing entirelynew services, or offering existing services in ways that were previouslyimpossible, the channel can ensure that the cloud has a silver, if not golden,lining.
This was first published in January 2011