Cloud Partners Keynote Panel Highlights Challenges Ahead for Cloud Adoption

CLOUD PARTNERS — Accelerating cloud adoption presents numerous challenges for the channel, including how best to assist IT and shift their own business models.

What’s next for cloud adoption was the subject of a keynote panel discussion titled, “The Cloud Means Business – And Here’s How” during Cloud Partners, a Channel Partners event, in Boston. Tina Gravel, Cryptzone’s senior vice president of strategic alliances, served as moderator.

Cryptzone’s Tina Gravel (standing) moderates a keynote panel at Cloud Partners dubbed "Cloud Means Business" - also the theme of the event.“The cloud is now so much more than software-as-a-service or ‘born in the cloud’ applications we have all heard of; the fact is, use of the cloud in business is evolving fast,” she said. “Every day there are new uses for network-enabled or distributed computing that the cloud offers, along with new ways to track, manage, measure and monitor what you are doing. There are also many new ways to implement and to secure cloud computing with tools specifically designed for the challenges that sort of work introduces.”

Zeus Kerravala, founder and principal analyst at ZK Research, served as a panelist, along with Diana Mirakaj, chief operating officer of the 2112 Group, and Jim Rapoza, senior research analyst with the Aberdeen Group. 

Kerravala said now that cloud has started to mature and become more mainstream, “IT people need some help in trying to figure out how to integrate it into their business.”

“For the channel partner, it means shifting their own business model,” he said. “They need to specialize more. They need more vertical expertise and I think they need to be willing to partner with other channel partners, which a lot of them don’t like to do. But if you do need some security expertise, go to a security specialist. If you need help in health care, go to a health-care specialist.”

A big challenge remains getting SMBs to move to cloud when vendors still allow for on-premises, Mirakaj said.

“Even though cloud remains one of the biggest trends, most vendors allow their partners to merely dabble in it, without truly making a commitment to invest in the skills and resources needed to say they have cloud,” she said. “For example, selling Office 365 – which doesn’t require a whole lot of training or resource changes – qualifies a partner as a cloud company; referring business to cloud companies also qualifies a partner as ‘cloud enabled.’ But true capitalization of a cloud opportunity takes effort and investment.”

Businesses recognizing when is the right time to move to the cloud is always a challenge, Rapoza said.

“Part of it is that they’re always one bad experience away from losing everything, which is not a problem in the cloud,” he said. “That’s the kind of identifying one, whether it’s ‘I’m in an upgrade cycle anyway, now’s the time to move to cloud. I need better disaster recovery options, now’s the time to move to cloud.’”

In addition, the idea of cloud and what it has to offer has changed from when businesses considered it in earlier years, Rapoza said.

“Cloud today is different than how you did it a few years ago because of SDN, because of mobile,” he said. “One of the main drivers for those is over 50 percent of people are now mainly using mobile devices to access apps and services. So when you’re doing that, a cloud-based system is almost always going to be a better option than an on-premises.”

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