Cloud Options Proliferate Across the Channel
Beyond the technology, smaller cloud providers said the customer experience is better than anything a solution provider is going to get from a major vendor. "We have a 100 percent channel model," said Joe Barnas, director of channels for dinCloud, a provider of desktop virtualization services in the cloud. "Not only are our payouts higher over the long term, but we've also given the solution provider a lot more flexibility, control and consistency." Similarly, Stephen Pace, vice president of channels and worldwide sales for SingleHop—another cloud service provider that allows solutions providers to white label the SingleHop services under their own brand names—said that in the age of the cloud, customer touch still matters. "The relationship still matters, especially in the SMB [small and midsize business] market," said Pace. "Solution providers need to be able to reach out to someone when there's a problem—no matter how automated the technology might be."The challenge, said Jeff Uphues, vice president of business development for Cbeyond, another cloud service provider with a focus on the channel, is to find the provider that best helps the solution provider make the switch to a recurring revenue model based on delivering cloud services."We own all our own fiber," said Uphues."That means we can deliver a true end-to-end cloud environment, where the commission streams are two times anything Amazon offers." In a world where cloud computing is rapidly becoming a commodity, it may be that whoever owns the relationship with the customer will matter most of all. "It's definitely a fight, but it's too early to know who is going to win that fight," said Diane Krakora, CEO of PartnerPath, a channel consulting firm. "Right now, vendors are having a tough time differentiating services." As a result, many channel partners will probably have to develop a full range of cloud services—some of which they will build themselves while others will be provided by partnering with cloud service providers to deliver specific applications or provide additional cloud-bursting capabilities on demand. "A lot will come down to [which cloud providers] solution providers currently have an affinity to do business with today," said Raymond Boggs, vice president of SMB research for IDC. "Partners will lean one way or another, depending on what they need to accomplish. So, for right now at least, they should be placing bets on all the types of cloud services."