Cisco's Ellen Berlan: Partner Transformation to Cloud Won't Happen Overnight

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CLOUD PARTNERS — Partners are under pressure to change their business models to sell IT, and how you do that will determine your success.

That was a critical takeaway from Cisco's Ellen Berlan, Americas cloud director, during the Sept. 12 keynote address at the Fall 2013 Cloud Partners Conference & Expo in Chicago.

Before such a transformation can take place, though, partners must understand where to invest. Think about how you want to help drive cloud collaboration and the players within end users' organizations who are best suited to help you achieve that.

Some areas driving cloud adoption include data security and reliability, as well as customer support, Berlan said. A number of Cisco partners that have started this move toward cloud are seeing success – and, as a result, Cisco is, too.

"We're seeing the opportunity, we're seeing the growth," Berlan said.

And partners are realizing the payoffs.

“We’re seeing gross margins in the cloud as high as 45 percent," said Berlan.

But none of that just happens overnight, she added. Within Cisco, the transformation to cloud has taken time and struggle. The results have been worthwhile, Berlan said.

“We recognize the value in cloud, we’re paying the way we should be paying for cloud."

Partners, meanwhile, need to keep making fundamental changes to take advantage of cloud. Some changes include transforming messaging and the sale organization. The shift for most partners is gradual and can take 12-24 months.

Above all, if you can nail cloud simplicity for the user, you stand a good chance of succeeding.

“A company doesn’t want to hear that you’re going to offer them a cloud – they want to hear a solution that’s going to solve the problem," said Berlan.

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