BOSTON — No matter where you go any more, somebody is touting the benefits and business opportunities surrounding the cloud. At Synnex’s Varnex conference this week, Synnex and vendor partner executives were no different. The message was pretty clear (and if it wasn’t, you weren’t paying attention): Business is moving towards the cloud, and if you don’t get on board, you’re going to fall behind.
Cloud is right up there with mobility in terms of hot topics, but what might be surprising is it isn’t the cost savings that are driving businesses to adopt cloud computing solutions, said Tiffani Bova, vice president of sales and channel strategies worldwide for technology and service provider research at Gartner, during a presentation Tuesday morning. In fact, the most important benefits businesses are looking for in cloud is flexibility. Cost savings come in a distant second.
The good news? Despite concerns on the part of some VARs, the channel is going to continue to play a critical role in IT even as cloud computing becomes the norm instead of the new and shiny.
“There is no conversation that I have about disintermediation about people like you in the supply chain. It’s not possible. And it’s beyond just the relationship with the customer. There’s more to it than that,” Bova said, assuring the 100 or so partners attending her general session talk that the channel would have plenty of opportunities to play in the cloud.
Nobody can argue that cloud isn’t a hot topic, but ChannelBuzz.ca did hear some skepticism in the audience over the course of the two-day conference. So what is Synnex doing to enable its channel partners? Naturally, it continues to stock the infrastructure elements in its linecard, but the distributor is also looking to enable its reseller customers with new programs.
Programs like the new CloudSolv, which will be a series of cloud services partners can resell to customers. The first is CloudSolv UC, a cloud-based unified communications cloud service that includes VoIP and desktop services built on the Microsoft/Broadsoft platform.
“Synnex’s CloudSolv UC offering is the first commercially available unified communications solution that is hosted and delivered from the cloud on a national scale, which will give our reseller partners a greater opportunity to capture their share of a projected $3 billion market by 2014,” said Peter Larocque, president of U.S. distribution for Synnex. “Resellers will now be able to facilitate and broker deals for both voice-centric resellers and system integrators, traditional IT consultancies that are looking for unified communications and collaboration solutions for their customers.”
Synnex plans to follow up CloudSolv UC with other cloud services intended on helping its partners get into and/or build up a cloud computing practice.
Distribution is going to play a key role in helping resellers transition their businesses to the cloud, and that means big opportunities for partners. However, the opportunities may not always come from the development of their own cloud services — at least not in the SMB market, said Kevin Murai, president and CEO of Synnex. It’s not easy to, say, move from QuickBooks to NetSuite. Partners will have access to data conversation and integration opportunities, even if it means they’re essentially reselling the cloud services of a distributor like Synnex, which partnered with Level Platforms for its cloud service offerings.
“From a cloud perspective, it’s really a couple of things. Number one is from a public cloud perspective, we believe that adoption will be rapid and broad-based, in particular in small business,” Murai said. “There’s a lot of inherent benefits in small business adopting more technology-as-a-service platforms. You don’t have the same capital expenditure you would have through traditional means.”
However, for partners to truly embrace the cloud, they need a platform that includes provisioning and billing capabilties (which the Synnex platform does have), he said.
“In a way, it almost creates a black box. There were questions today about how does a VAR continue to capture profit when they’re not deploying hardware,” Murai said.
Since customers can price-shop, putting the squeeze on VARs, the cloud-based VAR will differentiate themselves in providing an integrated suite of business solutions that includes everything a small business needs to operate … and all in the cloud.