There is no doubt that Cloud will continue to be top of the IT agenda in 2018. And, channel companies – from managed service providers to resellers to agents – are increasingly recognising the huge opportunities that exist in the cloud services sector across cloud hosting, cloud-based Disaster Recovery (DR) and cloud backup. So, no matter what role you play in the channel, matching your capabilities with a cloud service provider that can help you take advantage of these opportunities will be key to success and business growth from cloud services in 2018. Here, Dante Orsini, SVP Channel & Business Development at iland, offers some practical advice here for Channel Partners.
Channel organisations have very diverse requirements and desired levels of investment when embarking on a cloud services strategy. For some, it is about earning recurring commissions with minimal involvement in the end-to-end sales and support process. Conversely, resellers often want to retain billing relationships but have assistance with the sales and support process from the cloud provider. Managed Service Providers (MSPs) often want to be responsible for the end customer relationship, which includes billing, account management and support, and profit from adding their own managed services offerings around the cloud service.
Regardless of your cloud services go-to-market strategy, there are some key attributes and offerings that channel organisations should be looking for from cloud service providers (CSPs).
Breadth of offerings
What can the cloud service provider offer that will truly enhance your product portfolio? The demand for cloud-based backup and DR solutions is huge and growing quickly and many channel organisations can benefit from partnering with CSPs who are leaders in this space. For Managed Service Providers, an important consideration is whether the CSP enables you to monitor and manage all of your customers’ cloud services including Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and cloud backup? Ideally, the offering should include powerful visibility management features across billing, performance, security, compliance, testing and reporting to enable you to drive additional revenue from value-added services.
Depending on your customer base and growth ambitions, you may need to team up with a cloud provider that has a national – even a global – footprint. More and more companies – both large and small – are prioritising data sovereignty across borders when making cloud buying decisions and it’s important to partner with a cloud provider that can support this with a global data centre footprint.
Performance and scalability
Essential for any channel organisation to achieve and maintain success are the service levels you’re able to deliver to your customers. Your cloud service provider must have in place clear service level agreements that will support you to acquire customers and keep them happy. It is also advisable to examine past performance and uptime.
Security and compliance
No matter who your target market is, cloud security and compliance considerations will be at the top of their priorities list. It is essential to have a partner who can help you meet your compliance requirements as well as your customers. Is security included or is it an add-on? To help channel partners respond to an environment of increased risk from cyber-attacks, ransomware and other threats, the cloud provider should natively integrate advanced security features into its cloud platform.
Determine what levels of support your customer base requires and ensure that your CSP can help you deliver that. Furthermore, determine where the support team is located and whether they can outline a support plan for you. Ultimately, you should have confidence that your CSP will be a true partner to you across the customer lifecycle – from sales to implementation to ongoing operations – and provide the support to back that up.
Pricing and term flexibility
Is the pricing model straightforward, and can the pricing be customised? With an increased focus on cloud cost-effectiveness, you need to ensure you’re set up to offer customer’s cost-effective options that won’t lock them in to paying for cloud resources they won’t necessarily use. Determine if your cloud service provider is agile enough to meet your needs, and to efficiently have your customers up and running with the cloud services with pricing structures that suit diverse needs.
Different cloud providers place different value and investment levels in their channel. Does the cloud provider have experience with channel partners, and, if so, do they have good relationships with their channel partners? And, importantly, the provider should not compete with their channel partners in professional or managed services. This will protect your revenue opportunities.
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