SMB Channel Partners Offering Cloud Services On the Rise

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Techaisle’s 2013 SMB Channel Partner Trends study shows that there has been a big leap in the percentage of channel partners offering cloud-computing services to SMBs in the last year.

The percentage of SMB channel partners (VARs, SIs, MSPs, SPs) offering cloud services jumped 68 percent, from 38 percent in 2012 to 64 percent in 2013. Another 22 percent are planning to offer cloud services in the next year. The biggest change was seen among the VARs, where the percentage offering cloud solutions to SMB customers increased by 118 percent over the past year, from 34 percent to 74 percent. This change was brought about by several factors:

  • VARs have realized that the industry has inevitably moved into the direction of cloud.
  • VARs have increasingly become comfortable with the cloud business model, and 36 percent of those that offer cloud are making money and 63 percent have just started to turn a profit.
  • IT vendors have begun to help VARs offer cloud solutions, both applications and infrastructure.
  • SMB customers are asking their channel partners for cloud-based solutions.

Similar to cloud computing solution offerings, although not as pronounced, there was a jump from 2012 to 2013 in the percentage of SMB channel partners offering mobility solutions. Sixty-one percent of channel partners are now offering one or more mobility solutions to SMBs and another 31 percent are planning to offer mobility solutions to SMBs in the near future as and when they get clarity on their target solutions and market segments. The biggest leap is seen with service providers. From less than one-third of service providers offering mobility solutions in 2012, now nearly three-fourths are offering such solutions.

Channel partners are also engaged in SMB BYOD implementations using a variety of technology including Citrix, Symantec, AirWatch, MobileIron, Cisco, IBM, AmTel, etc.

There was only a 3 percent point change from 2012 to 2013 among channel partners offering managed services to SMBs which, according to Techaisle, indicates that managed services as a solution offering is fully penetrated. The company also made note that there has been a drop in the percentage of VARs and SIs offering remote managed services, explaining that it is due primarily to channel partners migrating themselves to other more lucrative solution offerings for SMBs or using virtualization to manage IT. At the same time, many SMBs are looking for MSPs to provide both onsite and remote managed services at the pricing of only remote managed services.

The Techaisle report shows that systems integrators (SIs) have been the most active, as nearly 90 percent of are offering virtualization to SMBs whereas very select service providers are offering such solutions.

The fact that 70 percent of managed service providers are offering virtualization indicates a new trend of managing an SMB’s IT and application infrastructure through virtualization solutions, according to Techaisle, noting that many channel partners are using it as an opportunity to help in Windows XP migration as well. In fact 39 percent are currently offering such migrations. Among the different types of planned virtualization offerings, channel partners are showing a higher affinity for hosted virtual desktop as compared to VDI.

The survey shows that VARs are the most invested in offering SMB data center solutions, followed by systems integrators. It is a growing market with higher margins for servers and storage which is motivating channel partners to offer data center solutions and pulling them away from managed services offerings. Additionally, data center solutions are becoming an important priority for SMBs as they continue to upgrade and refresh their IT infrastructure. However, data center solutions mean a lot of things to different channel partners — offering server solutions, storage solutions, networking solutions and even virtualization and converged infrastructure solutions.

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