By David Crilley
The move to cloud computing is the biggest technological shift in a generation – and consumers, local businesses and the world’s largest enterprises and government organizations alike all are realizing its cost of ownership, flexibility and scalability benefits. However, despite the multitude of advantages for migrating to a cloud environment, organizations still have two major concerns: security and control. For channel partners looking to provide cloud-based services and build them into their business models, there are some important elements to consider beforehand.
First, offering cloud-based services doesn’t mean you have to build your own data center. If you’re just starting out, you may want to look for a vendor that offers services hosted in their data centers. You can resell those services, saving your customers (and you) the costs of constructing a facility, or paying for rack space in a co-located data center and managing systems yourself. Depending on the vendor’s pricing and policies, this may not be so different from reselling products deployed on your customers’ premises. The big difference is that there's no need to deliver and install on-site equipment.
Even if you are not selling on-premise products to customers now, you may want to consider a vendor that offers its services as both cloud-based services and on-premises deployment models. That way, you can offer hybrid options or help clients make a smooth transition to the cloud when they’re ready.
Second, it is critical to understand what your customers’ chief concerns are in moving to a cloud environment. For most, the issues revolve around security and control. Understanding how vendors design their cloud-based services will help you decide which ones can help you overcome potential objections and win customers. For security, data centers must document their physical security as well as uptime assurance with a SAS 70 (and new standard SSAE 16) audit. Also, look for services that encrypt customers’ data in motion and at rest.
To alleviate customer concerns around control, a one-size-fits-all technical approach may be acceptable for small businesses whose main reason for migrating to the cloud is to save money. Enterprises, however, typically will insist on a highly customizable experience and granular reporting that supports established policies. Not all clouds are created equal.
Third, an important question to ask is, what kind of cloud-based services do you want to sell? One of the fastest-growing segments in enterprise cloud services is data security – specifically, protecting the most sensitive information when it is in motion and when it's archived.