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Want to Accelerate Your Cloud Business? Ask Your Distributor

May 17, 2017 - Article
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Matt Karst

**Editor's Note: Distributor Report is a recurring column featuring thought leadership from IT and cloud distributors. We're looking for insights into evolving business models in this new era of distribution, product and technical service offerings, education and training, marketing/branding, credit and a myriad of other services.**

By Matt Karst

Cloud has been a dominating theme for the channel for the last several years — and for good reason. IDC estimates that 70 percent of CIOs embraced a cloud-first strategy in 2016. Even more striking, 95 percent of channel partners surveyed in a new, exclusive Westcon-Comstor 2017 Voice of the Customer survey indicated that at least some of their customers are already exploring cloud.

Clearly there’s opportunity, but what customers want and how they want it continues to change. Increasingly, end users desire full cloud solutions that can reduce costs and make them more agile — and not point products.  The rub, however, is that most solution providers say they don’t have the confidence to deliver full cloud solutions to customers, according to our survey.

The survey elicited 522 respondents, including MSPs, solution providers, systems integrators, telco agents and other channel partners. Only 9 percent believe they are cloud-ready and don’t need help selling cloud. The overwhelming majority, however, recognized gaps in their skillset and that they need help to stay competitive.

Increasingly, distributors are the go-to partners for cloud enablement and delivery support, according to the study. Almost 80 percent of channel partners said they already buy cloud services through one or more distributors. Why? Because leveraging the right distributor’s services can accelerate your cloud business around backup and recovery, IaaS, SaaS and managed services — as well as provide access to a proven portfolio of cloud solutions from vendors focused on growing their cloud business through partners.

Building a Cloud Business

Many leading distributors have invested millions of dollars in developing innovative cloud tools, marketplaces, programs and complete bundled cloud solutions for channel partners to take to market.

The Voice of the Customer study identified three key solution bundles being sold through the channel, and typically available through distribution: disaster recovery/backup (which includes IaaS and security), office productivity (including email, calendar and security), and unified communications (UCaaS, devices and configuration services). Each bundle appeals to both IT buyers and lines of business (LOB), and across a wide spectrum of vertical markets.

Nearly 60 percent of channel partners are now selling cloud bundles, according to the survey. However, true success is perhaps best measured by ...

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