Opinion

Salesforce can't live with the channel and can't live without it

Analyst Tiffani Bova, Gartner's VP of world wide sales and channel strategies, says that the channel will play a huge part in the delivery of cloud services, despite what Salesforce.com's CEO Marc Benioff may say.

Last week, Benioff held a revivalist-style rally for Cloud converts at a packed Royal Festival Hall. Even some analysts went native and an IT big wig from a big German bank got so carried away he nearly threw his hands in the air and testified to the Lord of the Cloud. 

After the event, gangs of IT directors and CIOs roamed the South Bank, looking for IT resellers they could fight. A torch bearing mob threatened to storm the offices of nearby IBM, but nobody could access Google maps as the local wi-fi was slow.

But, a week later, a more sober analysis of the effect of the cloud is now possible.

"Considering that Salesforce is looking for developers, I wouldn't say he's too anti channel now," says Bova, "What's he doing keeping app exchange? Why have your own app incubator if you don't like working with partners."

There will always be a need for someone who can take the customer through the last mile, according to Bova. The integrators will be the only people with the skills to quickly gel and fine tune cloud services with the customers infrastructure.

The cloud will change the dynamics of the channel though. The buying patters will change because the reseller will no longer own the customer. Big companies will have their own IT staff, who will know enough about the cloud to order their own services, so the reseller will just get the end part of the job, integration.

The only time resellers may make money on making recommendations will be with the smaller clients, where the margins will be pretty slim.

The good news is that 60 to 70 per cent of IT purchases will go through he channel. The bad news is that the role of the reseller will be more focused.

But even that could be a good thing.

This was first published in September 2011

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