By Jeff Salanco
In the 1940s the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) established the “4Cs” of cut, clarity, color and carat weight as a system of diamond quality evaluation and guidelines that have saved the sanity of more than just a few young men attempting to purchase an engagement ring. The development of this simple set of criteria creates a sense of comfort during a complex decision process with significant financial implications. It has served the diamond market well.
So what if we were to apply a similar structure of grading to the various offerings that make up the cloud computing marketplace? Cloud computing can be as complex as the diamond market with a wide range of technology manufacturers, providers and distributors all representing very unique capabilities. Perhaps the development of a set of criteria that an IT reseller could leverage during the cloud sourcing and partnership decision process would create a bit of clarity. Based on what I see in the market, the 4Cs of a cloud marketplace would look something like the following:
Community. It’s hard to have a marketplace if you don’t have sellers. So the aggregation of IT vendors is critical. This means offering the full stack of infrastructure, platform and software services to offer IT resellers the flexibility to either build out full solutions or to augment their solutions in areas that don’t fit their core competencies. But community is much more than just a line card listing of vendors. Community also includes integration with supporting technologies which enable scale and richer margins, including remote monitoring, service automation and migration tools.
Content: The saying “Content Is King” is overused for a reason … because it is true. Cloud-focused market trends, enablement road maps, technology-specific training guides and solution sales kits are extremely important tools for the IT organization to consume as they build a cloud selling practice. But equally important is a library of content and copy that can be repurposed by the IT reseller when engaging their end users.
Configuration: Assembling multivendor cloud solutions can be challenging. So a set of tools and resources to help with the process can minimize risk and improve alignment with customer need. A configuration solution beyond repackaging of disparate vendor-specific tools can represent significant value. Tools that pull together various offerings into a single pane of glass providing the development, modeling, and validation of multivendor cloud solutions can make a significant difference. However the tools are only half of the equation. A technically equipped selling and technical support organization provides the sounding board for IT resellers of all sizes, delivering guidance and validation as they work through solution opportunities of varied size and scope.
Consolidation: Monthly and consumption billing of third-party vendors can often fall outside of the normal processes of many IT resellers, even those that are well-versed in reselling cloud solutions. Disparate billing sources and cadences can cause tremendous confusion, making it difficult and laborious to communicate charges to users. So a platform that combines the efficient execution of procurement and provisioning of solutions, along with the aggregation and normalization of billing, tasks can relieve significant burden and uncertainty for IT resellers at all levels of practice maturity.
Given the changes taking place in the cloud technology segment, the IT reseller’s ability to take time to regularly evaluate the cloud marketplace relationships is an important task to ensure that the necessary support elements are in place to allow for the delivery of the right technology solutions. Building a simple but comprehensive list of traits for a cloud marketplace can start to bring understanding to a world that is increasingly complex. Partners throughout the IT channel can certainly find value in that.
Jeff Salanco is a leader in the product marketing organization at Tech Data Corp. where he works with teams focused on designing and executing marketing programs across a variety of IT segments. These programs enable companies of all sizes to grow by leveraging the IT channel to amplify their ability to deliver technology solutions to the market.