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In Search of 'Born in the Cloud' Partners

By Khali Henderson
July 16, 2013 - Article

Khali HendersonNo doubt you've heard about "born in the cloud" partners. You can't help it; everyone — especially the supplier community — is talking about them. And that talk is quickly elevating them in the partner value hierarchy. It's as if they actually were spawned in the clouds and thrive in rarified air not suitable to traditional VARs, agents and dealers. As the legend of these cloud masters grows, one wonders if they are real at all. And, so began my quest to find actual "born in the cloud" partners, figure out what they have in common and determine why they are in high demand.

My first stop was Google. I searched for research on "born in the cloud" partners and quickly found that one of my go-to sources on channel, Tiffani Bova, vice president and distinguished analyst covering channel innovation for Gartner Inc., is emerging as a leading authority on this topic. When I contacted her, I learned she was just about to publish a client brief that, in part, addressed some of my questions — validating my suspicion that others in the channel were as confused as I. "This category is by far the most misunderstood by traditional technology providers, and it is the most disruptive to the current resale-oriented channel," she wrote in the May 24 brief, "Tech Go-To-Market: Providers Must Adjust Their Channel Programs as Partners Take to the Cloud."

We'll share more about what suppliers must do to attract "born in the cloud" partners later in this article; for now, let's work on defining the partner category itself. To do that, it helps to know what the other partner categories are. Using an oversimplified version of Bova's partner transformation model, imagine a "pool" that contains all partners, and within that the following three "swim lanes": 1. traditional partners with no cloud offerings 2. hybrid partners with traditional and cloud offerings 3. "born in the cloud" partners with only cloud offerings.

So, does that mean being "born in the cloud" is just a matter of not having a traditional offering like premises hardware and software for VARs or telecom circuits for agents?

Bova writes: "Born-in-the-cloud companies aren't driven by making money the 'traditional' way (by reselling someone else's products at a profit and offering value-added services on top for additional revenue). Instead they offer 'outcome-based' business solutions built on the backs of [cloud service providers], focused on software and application development and business process consulting, and offer unique solutions to the market."

So let's break this down — "born in the cloud" partners are:

  • focusing on business outcomes and business process consulting
  • using software and applications development
  • delivering unique cloud-based services
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