Channel partners' No. 1 need from cloud service providers is an SLA guaranteeing availability, according to data from a recent Techaisle survey of partners serving small and medium businesses.
SLAs were cited as most important by 61 percent of service providers and 59 percent of VARs/SIs surveyed. SLAs topped the lists of 53 percent of all partners surveyed.
"This is consistent with what we have heard directly from SMBs, who are using the SLAs as a proxy for the brand of underlying infrastructure and system software of the applications," Techaisle wrote in a research note. "The effect of this is strongest on hardware vendors, whose equipment is becoming increasingly commoditized by plug-and-play infrastructure and exacerbated by a digital channel that uses self-service interfaces and management dashboards instead of on-site visits."
Channel partners' No. 2 requirement is 24/7 support services for SMB customers. As SMBs outsource more of their infrastructure and applications, a 24-hour support desk reduces the perceived risk of having everything offsite, Techaisle stated.
These first two needs line up with SMBs' top purchasing criteria, Techaisle wrote. The other two top purchasing factors -- price and data security -- were not listed as channel needs, however. Techaisle said this "suggests that these are largely under control," noting that users also expressed high levels of satisfaction in these areas.
Most of the remaining channel requirements for cloud vendors fall into one of two categories -- product or program.
Channel partners' product needs include better methods of integration, a broader catalog of applications and single sign-on across applications.
Channel Partners' partner program needs include better notification of upgrades, changes and downtime; access to on-site training; policies for data migration to competitive products; and the ability to offer discounts for paying annual fees upfront.
Techaisle's channel survey reports are available for U.S., U.K., Germany, Australia, India, China with an average of 664 channel partner surveys completed per country.