Selling the cloud is something that the channel knows it needs to start thinking about but getting from a situation where it is just an idea to a solid business plan requires a fair bit of work.
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There appear to be plenty of people queuing up to provide assistance, ranging from vendors, reseller associations and distributors. But there is plenty of confusion and even the approach from one distie to another can be fairly different.
The man charged with leading the cloud drive for Ingram Micro and its partners across Europe is all too aware of the difficulties that resellers face just getting to grips with the nuts and bolts of the hosted model and is making the delivery of practical business advice one of his key objectives before getting into a product debate with partners.
Jason Beal, senior director, services and cloud computing at Ingram Micro EMEA (pictured), acknowledges that the distributor has pitched itself as an aggregator of cloud products and services but is also aware that it has to aggregate more than products if it wants to get resellers into the cloud.
A lot of the hurdles resellers have to jump over concentrate around the shift towards a flexible monthly payment model and in adapting a sales culture that is sometimes built around the idea of making those large annual sell-it and forget-it licensing packages.
"We are here to help them on the pathway to the cloud with advice on where the rubber meets the road around compensation plan changes," he says pointing out that it is not doing that alone and has a number of vendor partners to call on as part of its recently launched Cloud Transformation Alliance.
That Alliance includes Ingram and HP, Microsoft, CA Technologies, Symantec, APC, Kingston, SNIA Europe and Solution Provider Community International which will provide support on both cloud and managed services strategies.
Beal talks about seeing it as a duty to provide the signposts as resellers make the cloud journey with education, roadmaps and sharing best practices all part of the list of things that needs to be done before partners get into a debate about individual products.
He says that "the debate is over" about whether or not the channel has a role in a cloud future, with it quite clearly maintaining its position as the best local route to market, but accepts that a hybrid model is going to exist for years and as a result resellers still have the luxury of time to establish what their responses are towards the cloud.
"Internal change doesn't happen overnight you start by assigning a channel practice manager, one person who has cloud ownership. Write a business plan and address the compensation piece. Do start now," says Beal.