Every market indicator suggests that cloud computing is gaining broad-based interest and acceptance among organizations of all sizes across nearly every industry. You can’t turn on the TV or radio, or travel through an airport without being bombarded with references to products and services being offered via the ‘cloud’.
Yet, all the hype regarding cloud alternatives has left many IT and corporate decision-makers uncertain about the real attributes and potential benefits of today’s cloud solutions. Given the proliferation of players and varying definitions for cloud-based services, it isn’t surprising that there is plenty of confusion about what is real, and where, when and how to take advantage of cloud solutions.
The rapid growth of the cloud market is being driven by widespread frustration among corporate executives and end-users with the complexities and costs associated with deploying, utilizing and administering traditional, on-premise hardware and software. These frustrations are leading some end-users to unilaterally adopt cloud solutions to meet their day-to-day needs without seeking the approval of their inhouse IT group or corporate executives. This ‘consumerization of IT” or “shadow IT” phenomenon is putting more pressure on the IT department to become more educated and engaged in evaluating cloud solutions which can meet the needs of the entire enterprise.
However, there is an overwhelming assortment of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) providers and solutions. THINKstrategies administers the largest online directory, called the Cloud Computing Showplace, with more than 2,000 cloud companies. But, our Showplace may only represent a fraction of the rapidly growing population of cloud companies.
This proliferation of players, or “Cloud Rush”, not only makes it increasingly difficult for IT and business decision-makers to evaluate and select the right cloud companies to meet their needs, it also complicates the procurement process and creates serious integration issues for organizations trying to get multiple cloud solutions to work together.
Rather than sorting through the rising number of SaaS, PaaS and IaaS offerings one-by-one, a growing number of corporate decision-makers are recognizing that it makes more sense to turn to their trusted suppliers for the solutions they need. These trusted suppliers tend to be their local value-added resellers (VARs) or integrators who are becoming known as cloud ‘aggregators’ and ‘brokers’ in today’s marketplace.
These firms have greater buying power than small- and mid-size businesses. They have stronger skills. And they are putting systems in place to make the procurement and integration processes easier. And, the leading channel companies are also offering managed services which will monitor the cloud solutions on an ongoing basis to optimize their performance and help organizations measure their effectiveness. Channel companies can also enhance basic cloud solutions and customize them to address the particular requirements of specific geographic and vertical market segments.
The leading channel companies are also getting a lot of attention from cloud vendors which are trying extend their reach into new segments of the market. These vendors understand that they need trusted channel partners to convince IT and business decision-makers that it is safe to move to the cloud and increase the likelihood of success moving down this path.
These trends clearly show that it doesn’t make sense for IT and business decision-makers to try evaluate, select, acquire and deploy various cloud solutions on their own. Instead, they should take advantage of trusted channel partners who can simplify, accelerate and optimize the success of this process.
Jeff Kaplan is the Managing Director of THINKstrategies (www.thinkstrategies.com), founder of the Cloud Computing Showplace (www.cloudshowplace.com) and host of the Cloud Channel Summit (www.cloudchannelsummit.com).