Cloud computing has become a standard part of IT architecture and service delivery for a simple reason: It provides tangible business benefits. Cloud computing represents a tremendous opportunity for channel partners because it provides their customers economic, operational and resource flexibility, while dramatically improving organizational agility. Cloud is not a destination or singular path, but a transformation that places IT and its partners squarely at the center of the enterprise as both a leader and enabler of value creation. Below are some recommendations for resellers to ensure their customers’ cloud deployments are successful in the long run.
- Look at cloud from a lifecycle perspective – Embracing a strategic approach to cloud adoption means working with customers to take the long view without sacrificing the ability to make smart and assertive moves in the present. As a partner, it’s not just about standing up the infrastructure, but to analyze the utilization and results of these assets and all the costs along the entire lifecycle. What does it take to create, manage, maintain, provision, patch, and keep the cloud controlled? How easily does the cloud create and how seamlessly does it deploy the workload the customer is utilizing to deliver that business outcome?
- Make decisions grounded in business objectives – Cloud computing is a strategic business initiative, not a technology tactic or Capex reduction plan. To be successful, cloud-based strategies and investments must be rooted in the challenges the customer’s business is trying to address. In some enterprises, cloud technology initiatives can take on a life of their own, but as a partner it’s your job to avoid this fate and ensure that your customers’ business leaders are engaged and supportive of cloud investments if these endeavors are ultimately to produce solid results.
- Be committed to flexibility – Your customers need to understand the adoption models they can choose at any given time and when different cloud approaches are appropriate. The decision should not be which singular type of cloud to deploy – private or public. In reality, most organizations will use a combination of private and public clouds in a hybrid cloud approach. Partners’ focus should be on delivering the right cloud, or mix of clouds, for their customers at the right cost with the right characteristics (i.e. agility, compliance, security) to achieve their desired business results. As partners, it’s your job to help your customers navigate this environment with a mix that optimizes efficiency and business value.
- Focus on IT guidance and governance – In the rush to gain access to the benefits of cloud, many organizations have a tendency to overlook the continued involvement and oversight of IT. This is another great opportunity for channel partners to provide value. Problems are inevitable as issues such as performance, integration, security and compliance emerge as unaddressed or mishandled. When partners and IT leaders actively advise and align with business leaders, these types of matters are handled more effectively in a forward-looking fashion.
- How to make cloud easier for customers – There are a few ways to make cloud easier for your customers, particularly for those that are already becoming more cloud comfortable. For example, resellers can offer line-of-business owners a simple catalogue of all their most used offerings (e.g., the creation of a certain number of mail and messaging inboxes). If a test-and-development team wants to rapidly create and test a cloud-based application, a pre-catalogued compute and storage resource pool could be offered. Test-and-dev engineers don’t have to go to a public cloud and do this in a shadow IT form. A catalogue of offerings shows how much a solution will cost and the assets available for usage. Add the appropriate security requirements, and IT leaders or DevOps managers are on their way – either deploying a cloud infrastructure on their own or with the help of deployment services.
With cloud adoption on the rise, organizations are trying to determine the best ways to get the most from their cloud investments. Increasingly, achieving that goal centers on finding the right partners to turn promise into profit. The most successful cloud relationships are built around core concepts such as risk mitigation, improved user experience, intense collaboration and measurable gains in business outcomes. In the end, the most successful channel partners will be those that consistently demonstrate how cloud services unlock tangible business value for their customers.
Cheryl Cook is Vice President of Global Channels and Alliances for Dell.