Spending time face to face with customers is one of the most insightful parts of my job. Speaking to them over the last few years, I’ve learned a great deal about how their businesses have evolved and transitioning to a “cloud first” methodology. It is well understood that there is an enormous market opportunity in Cloud, but the ever-growing list of SaaS and PaaS providers means that the number of products and services to be supported is higher than ever. In addition to that, while one of the promises of cloud is simplicity, these services can paradoxically become more complex in nature as end users seek to exploit their benefits to work smarter, faster, and – inevitably – cheaper.
Heads in the cloud
This comes with a challenge for our resellers-cum-service-providers who are at the same time having to tackle a significant skills shortage. As partners transition from servicing on-premise to cloud solutions, the alignment of skills change; for example, instead of having skills aligned to managing the networking, compute or storage in vendor silos, cloud environments typically require a broader knowledge base – people who understand all of these areas. The convenience of having large & complex cloud solutions that can be managed through one interface means our IT staff now need to have all the skills necessary to do so. This can be a painful transition for those previously deeply entrenched in a specific technology, and our partners are looking to the rest of the channel for help.
Distributors can play a role in facilitating this transformation by offering technical support. One such way to do this is to build a crack team of hardcore techies who support internal teams and partners across the region, on a range of topics from leading IaaS platforms to application specific workloads. Through training, certification, and providing on-hand advice and support, distributors can add value to partners as both the reseller channel and distribution transform.
The changing role of distribution
That said, the term “distributor” is an outdated one. Yes, there is still a role to play in moving tremendous amounts of inventory across the globe, and the need for this is not going to disappear. However, in the Cloud & Software markets we have moved from hardware & software integration, to Aggregation, and are marching quickly towards Orchestration. The upspring of cloud solutions practices amongst the distributor community is testament to this. Here, distributors are enabling their channel partners to build out their businesses through the creation of pre-configured & packaged cloud solutions comprising multiple vendors and technologies. For partners, one of the biggest advantages here is the removal of in-house development costs and greatly increasing the time to market, helping partners focus on the opportunities that matter to them.
Adapting to new realities
Business practices and planning were already being changed by disruptive forces and current circumstances have forced many businesses to confront a new reality in respect to how they operate, how they invest, and how they interact with staff and colleagues. Findings from a recent EY survey found that 41 percent of employers globally were increasing investment in automation in preparation for a post-crisis world. Cloud platforms connected to a broader ecosystem of solutions and support services can help partners achieve flexibility and bridge the gap between their expertise and their customer’s requirements. For everyone in the channel, change is now accelerating even faster than it was at the turn of the year, but by supporting one another and innovating together we can build a more robust future for the channel and its end customers.