As more and more businesses turn to cloud computing for their business process solutions, ill-prepared channel partners are getting worried that they are going to be left out in this new computing model. As far as channel management solutions goes, nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, cloud computing presents a great opportunity that relies on rent model rather than the conventional sales model.
What exactly is all this hoopla about cloud computing? This new model in computing was brought about by the advent of broadband Internet among other innovations is these past few years. Instead of buying and installing software in your computer, you can actually “rent” it instead. How is this possible? Well, the software application itself resides on a hosts’ server where responsibility for maintenance is up to the vendors instead of the user. The user merely pays a subscription fee to use or access the software. In many cases, the user’s information or database also resides on the server. One of the main advantages of this is that in case the user’s computer crash or is infected by viruses, the data is safe.
According to statistics compiled by Information Week, by 2014, cloud infrastructure would have risen to 116.5 billion; by 2012, at least 20% of businesses would be free from owning IT assets; in the same year, the cloud market will grow to $126 billion due to a yearly increase of 28%.
There are many factors driving this computing model. For the most part, it’s still always about the money. Savings from having to invest in computing infrastructure would drastically be reduced, major investment on software updates and internal IT department for maintenance will be avoided. Another plus is the flexibility and mobility of data. For majority of the industry, IT has always been a means to an end and if the cost of the means can be brought down, without sacrificing the results, then who would not jump on the opportunity to do so?
While there is an expected decrease in revenue streams for channel partners from cloud subscriptions, the future points to a blended computing technology. This means that clouds could be additional opportunities and not an entire replacement for conventional software. Channel management solutions should be geared to reflect these changes.
Cloud vendors have focused their efforts on direct sales through the web, thinking that channel partners are no longer required but this simply not true. Customers need channel partners’ expertise in picking out the right solutions. In this instance, resellers have a chance to become consultants for customers. There is also the matter of integration, usually with a customer’s own website. This is not far from their roles as system integrators of conventional software. Training is another issue that channel partners can address. Some customers need the support of resellers to help them use the application.
It is becoming more and more apparent that cloud computing is here to stay and a fad it is not. The shift towards a more business goal mindset from the technology solution mindset lies mostly on the shoulders of channel partners.
At present and in the near future, the trend is still a combination of both conventional and cloud based application but channel partners have to be prepared to take on this challenge and develop new skills that will make them an invaluable member of the IT ecosystem.
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