Wednesday, April 11, 2012
The IT industry has certainly been through its share of transformative business model changes. But what’s new about the current shift from on-premise to cloud is that it’s originating with end-users, speakers on a CompTIA Annual Member Meeting
panel said on Wednesday.
Speakers discussed what solution providers need to do to make the transition to a cloud services model. It doesn’t necessarily mean abandoning on-premise solutions completely, but more likely results in a hybrid model.
For solution providers, learning the technology is the easy part, said Ryan Morris of Morris Management Partners Inc. “What’s really hard is the financial model and the go-to-market strategy,” he said.
Economic factors like a desire to streamline expenditures and gain efficiencies are playing a big part in driving cloud adoption, said Mont Phelps, president and CEO of NWN Corp. That creates a whole new procurement process for a company.
“It’s not going to be the IT people who are doing that,” he said. “It’s going to be the financial people who are holding the purse strings.”
John Rice, Intermedia senior director of partner community, cited research that far more potential cloud adopters were learning about cloud services from their accountant than from a service provider’s sales executive. “This whole cloud thing is a lot more about business and not as much about technology as we’re used to,” he said.
That makes it more essential for a solution provider to understand their customers’ business needs and be a customer advocate, Phelps said. “Think about hockey: You don’t skate to where the puck is, but where it’s going to be,” he said. “Talk to your customer, and talk to your customer’s customer. Understand what their issues are.”
Another challenge for existing solution providers is the low cost of entry into the cloud market, which has produced a new “born in the cloud” type provider without legacy infrastructure.
“Expect non-traditional competition,” Phelps advised. “If you aren’t tight with your customer, you’re going to get blindsided.”
Toni Clayton-Hine, vice president of global channel marketing for CA Technologies, said she had seen several partners be successful in creating a new separate brand specifically for cloud services. You don’t have to go through an entire company rebrand, and you keep the value and reputation of your original on-premise brand, she noted.
Although transforming your business model – or even creating a new hybrid model of on-premise and cloud solutions – presents challenges, adapting to a new business environment is essential for solution providers, panelists said.
The most successful solution providers going forward will be those that can provide customers with a fully integrated solution, Phelps said.
“It’s the delivery to the customer that really matters,” he said.