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While VARs may be slow to "get" cloud, carriers may be slow to "get" VARs, according to solutions providers that spoke during a panel discussion Thursday at Channel Connect 2012, master agency Intelisys' partner meeting in San Francisco this week.
"We have been very resistant to cloud because we see it threatening our revenue stream with respect to margins we are making, especially on computer/IT side of the house," said Greg Persky, a communications practice solutions consultant for inhouseIT, an IT managed services provider that also sells cloud and carrier services. "We also were protecting our base of ShoreTel until the end of last year [when we] realized we lost a good chunk of clients because we didn't offer a cloud solution."
Having long-held customers "leaving in the night" caught the attention of inhouseIT's CEO, who determined the company needed to change its stance on cloud. "The bottom line is if you don't adapt, you won't be in business in five years," Persky said.
Persky was joined in the panel discussion by two other VARs -- Jessica Mayo-Pike, business development leader for IPLogic, and Jason Kraft, telecom sales team leader for FusionStorm -- and telecom agent Patrick Wefers, president of Infinium Communications. The conversation was moderated by CRN Editor-at-Large Chad Berndtson.
FusionStorm's Kraft commiserated with Persky on the loss of customers to competitors offering cloud. "It's happened to all of us," he said. "We start missing stuff and we try to find out why."
The "why" is that customers increasingly are demanding more flexible solutions. "The customers are forcing some of the traditional VARs to have more cloud options," Kraft said.
But that's easier said than done.
"One of the biggest challenges that we have in the VAR space is that we have a sales force accustomed to selling boxes, switches and routers," said Mayo-Pike. "How do we change that sales methodology to selling services, which is so significantly different than the hardware sale. It's a different conversation."