By Rhonda Trainor, Director of Merchandising at ScanSource and Channel Partners Editorial Adviser
Thinking of transitioning your current agent or managed-service-provider business to a cloud service provider, or CSP, model? While this change can be exceedingly beneficial if done correctly, it can also be somewhat risky, giving rise to common anxieties that can paralyze partners. Here are five worries that I find particularly common among our partners, along with moves to make now to ensure success.
Consideration: Who will buy my services?
Step: Educate and evaluate your current audience. Before you begin looking at what it will cost you to transition to a CSP, first look at your existing customer base. Are they a target market for cloud services? If so, don’t wait for them to ask you about what to purchase. Be proactive about educating them on the breadth of services you can provide. And start that conversation early, before they’ve had a chance to consider buying SaaS directly or working with a competitor. That way, when they start thinking about who can advice them on their cloud strategy, your name is at front of mind.
Consideration: Can we bootstrap the move?
Step: Start small and smart. You don’t have to conquer the world today; for example, you might seriously consider a “cloud-in-a-box” bundle, or prebuilt stack, which can get you to market quickly. You’ll appreciate the access to professional services and the software and hardware integration that come with these ready-made solutions.
If startup costs seems high because you’re missing the hardware, software or skilled-employee resources to launch your cloud offering, here’s another idea: Try partnering. Look around for a peer or business partner with a data center. You promote their cloud services, they help you get staff up to speed. If you can find the right partner with complementary business tenets, it’s a great way to get your foot in the door.
If partnering, what should you look for? A cloud service provider whose line card includes a fairly complete set of cloud products. Someone willing to hold your hand (figuratively) and make sure key details aren’t missed as you shift customers’ IT from on-premises to the cloud. for example, there are specialists who are skilled in Office 365 migrations.
However, if you do decide to partner with a cloud provider, remember: Your reputations will be synonymous, so make sure you’re synching up with someone you trust and that you believe will protect your good name.
Consideration: What if we build it and customers don’t come?
Step: Anticipate objections. This is basic marketing: Consider what risks your customers perceive with cloud – or that they really face, like lack of bandwidth – and develop a plan to ease their minds. Some might be concerned with security and need to understand where their data is, since it’s not physically on-site. Other risks include come-ons from competing service providers and the possibility of a single point of failure. If you draft a detailed set of operational procedures to outline processes, such as pulling workloads back from the cloud should that need arise, your customers will rest more easily during the transition knowing that …