It was interesting to note Cisco has decided there is “no difference” between managed services and cloud services by opting to merge its Managed Services Channel Programme and its Cloud Provider and Cloud Services Reseller roles.
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Richard Roberts, Cisco UK and Ireland partner organisation lead, told MicroScope the vendor was more or less acknowledging the widespread industry acceptance that managed services and cloud services were pretty much the same.
Having spoken to a number of resellers who have pretty much told me that cloud services is a big preoccupation for customers and that the role for channel partners is to begin offering them as part of a managed service, I can certainly understand where Cisco is coming from.
The view from partnerland seems to be that the best way to deliver cloud computing to customer could be as a managed service and that partners have a serious amount of expertise that could be used to provide it.
So I don’t have an issue with Cisco’s reasoning. It also, I think, should reassure customers about how cloud computing fits into their future plans if they can start to view it as a service in much the same way as any other managed service and to comprehend that it can be delivered in the same way.
It’s not as if people haven’t been making the comparison between managed services and cloud computing already so if it helps customers to define it as something they already know and are comfortable with the channel providing, it’s a good thing. In other words, it’s not revolutionary but evolutionary. That’s a good thing by the way.
Are there any downsides? Well, only in terms of just how far advanced along the cloud path vendors, channel partners, cloud providers and customers are. To provide something as a managed service, you need to have a proven delivery platform and strong customer acceptance. That may not be quite where we’re at right now with the cloud which, in turn, may lead some to charge that bringing cloud and managed services together is putting the cart before the horse.
I don’t think that is the case but it might be worth making sure customers view Cisco’s move in the same way as the industry does.