PHONE+ Asks: Is Cloud Computing a Viable Opportunity for the Channel?

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“The opportunity can be huge for the channel. Whenever more of a customer’s total technology spend can be wrapped up into a monthly operating expense, then savvy agents can grab an even larger wallet-share of their clients. That’s exactly the opportunity that cloud computing presents in the channel. For years, the agent community has participated only in voice and data services from the demarc out — T1, PRI, POTS, local, LD, toll-free, WAN, wireless. Hosted VoIP in the past few years has been an example of a traditional capital expense being ‘operationalized’ as the PBX moved from a capex item to an operating expense in the cloud. Cloud computing now accomplishes that for a customer’s entire computing environment, including workstations, laptops, servers, storage, operating systems and even software licensing.  The computing environment essentially becomes a monthly on-demand utility at a predictable per-user price. Agents that serve their customers in that valuable trusted adviser role are going to be in a perfect position to share in the recurring revenue streams surrounding cloud services. For the forward-thinking agent, cloud computing is absolutely a viable and even game-changing opportunity."

—Andrew Pryfogle, President and CEO, Terrapin Solutions LLC , master agent

“Cloud computing is not a passing fad that will soon be gone. It is here to stay and many of the nation’s major colocation companies are now offering cloud computing. These companies are joined by Amazon, Google and Microsoft, which are also selling cloud computing worldwide. I was speaking to Hunter Blankenbaker, vice president of investor relations for Terremark Worldwide, and he told me that June 2009 was the first quarter that they started reporting revenues from the cloud and they reported $2.5 million in annualized revenues. In June 2010, Terremark reported $26 million in annualized revenues for the same quarter a year later. These figures should show that customers are buying cloud computing, they like the convenience of increasing their processing needs or capacity requirements via a portal versus a build, and that they no longer have to purchase or manage their own equipment as it is all included in the cost of the MRC. I still favor selling colocation all around the world, but when speaking to a company and evaluating their project, its requirements and the staff, it is comforting to know that we can make a consultative suggestion of colocation or cloud computing."

—S. Chris Palermo, President, Global Communication Networks , agent

“I see customers beginning to adopt two models of cloud computing. The first is software as a service (SaaS), but primarily as a private cloud. Manufacturers such as Avaya have updated architectures that support this approach. Things like Avaya Aura Session Manager, Communication Manager and Sequenced Applications are letting businesses deploy communication solutions to their own business units, with all the traditional benefits that we see from a cloud-based deployment. The second cloud model being adopted, primarily by the small to medium businesses, is infrastructure as a service (IaaS). This is a great way to maintain control of a disaster recovery location, using your enterprise-standardized solutions, but letting the IaaS service provider make the expensive investments to build out and maintain a hardened, SAS70-compliant data center. Cross Telecom has been able utilize the cloud-friendly products and technologies to more creatively deploy advanced communication solutions to our customers."

—David Lover, CTO, Cross Telecom , VAR

Up Next: What was best-selling service for your company in 2010? Send your answer to Khali Henderson at khenderson@vpico.com  by Oct. 25, for possible inclusion in the December edition of PHONE+ Asks. Any answer submitted is eligible for publication and may be edited for clarity or brevity.

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