As vendors move their wares into the cloud and deliver their capabilities as a service directly to end users, IT VARs have been wondering if their days are numbered. Disintermediation is not only unlikely, but partners have a big role to play in the successful transition to and delivery of cloud-based services – at least according to IT leaders and analysts speaking at the CompTIA Breakaway 2010 event this week in San Antonio.
Kevin Gough, head of partner marketing for Google Enterprise, told IT solutions providers Wednesday during the “Channel Chief Power Panel" that its channel – more than 1,000 resellers strong – had success selling and installing Google Apps over the last two years. He admitted that some of the initial interest from businesses was spurred by the recession and an interest in cutting IT capex. However, that initial experience of moving to an opex model has prompted conversations about companies’ cloud strategies. That’s where partners have an opportunity, he said.
Ross Brown, vice president of worldwide partner sales for Microsoft Corp., agreed, noting the cloud, like the premises, is an opportunity for integration. That means there is a “huge" professional services play for solutions providers, he said.
Even among small businesses, there is a need for solutions providers to assist customers with their cloud deployments, according to Andrew Sage, vice president of worldwide small business sales for Cisco Systems Inc. “We will always have ‘geek’ users … but the vast majority need help," he said.
Ryan Morris, principal consultant for Morris Management Partners, told CompTIA attendees Monday during the “Industry Analyst Panel" that there has never been more disintegration of service delivery than now, citing the hybrid environment crossing data center, hosted, managed services and cloud. It’s more confusing than ever for the customer, he said, arguing that solutions providers are going to remain in demand as trusted advisers.
Beth Vanni, director of marketing intelligence for Amazon Consulting, agreed, adding that vendors also need partners more than ever before, particularly in the areas of customer influence, pre-sales support and business process change management.
Morris agreed, adding that the role of the solution provider will change. “There will be more emphasis on demand gen and less on technical expertise, more on ongoing account management and less on tech troubleshooting and help desk. There will be an evolution in roles and an inevitable evolution in business models as a result. You’ll be paid differently and you’ll have to have a different set of skills," he said.