Where does distribution play a role in a cloud world is a question that has interested many in the channel over the last couple of years as the channel landscape starts to change to a include a growing amount of revenue generated from a hosted model.
Many questions were asked about the future including whether or not distributors set up datacentres and become cloud providers in their own right in the way that Google has or at the other end of the spectrum there was a fear that they could be bypassed all together by the cloud. But the answers are staring to emerge to those questions and distribution is finding a role for itself.
Already, even though it's early days of the cloud, a few solutions to the cloud challenge are emerging. For the sake of making it easy to see the different approaches examples from ComputerLinks and Ingram Micro come to mind.
The ComputerLinks approach is to sign up with a cloud infrastructure partner and provide resellers with the chance to sell a cloud platform with the distributor also providing the support.
ComputerLinks signed up with OpSource earlier this summer to make that approach work and at the time Dave Ellis, director of new technologies and services at the distributor, said that there was a place in the market for wrapping a good amount of value around a cloud proposition.
The other option is fairly similar and comes, or at least will be coming to Europe next year, is from Ingram which aims to be an aggregator and educator for resellers. It will pull together the cloud services offered by the vendors it handles and then explain to resellers how it all works and what their options are.
Vincenzo Baggio, Ingram Micro senior VP of vendor management and business development, said that one of the challenges for the channel was cutting through the confusion that is swamping the cloud and helping them work out where to add value and earn revenue.
But even with the Ingram efforts there is a recognition that these are the first stages of responding to changing times and as a result the reaction to the cloud is being spoken about in terms of short-term and long-term time frames.
"We consider this work in progress, a lot of activities are moving into the cloud," he said, adding that "a lot of aggregation work needs to be done because I can't see an end user using 15 different services. Adding value is fundamental in this play."
Things might change in the future of course but for now it is fair to say that distribution is starting to show how it is reacting to the cloud and for the two tier channel that has to be a positive. Plenty of others are still yet to make their move but the ball is rolling.
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