How does the channel fit into the cloud computing picture? For Dimension Data’s Ronnie Altit, integrators have a definite role providing cloud-based services to customers.
“We are doing so today – our investment in BlueFire was about doing that. So definitely there’s an opportunity,” he said. “But right now, we’re talking about cloud and thinking in terms of cloud, and not every customer is going to go cloud, or go entirely cloud. There will be customers who say ‘forget it’, customers who say ‘hybrid’ and some who say ‘all in’. From an integrator’s perspective, there are opportunities in every area.”
The biggest issue for integrators was that cloud computing superseded the traditional distinction between building and integrating IT, and running it, Altit claimed.
“If you look at the way some of the traditional providers are structured internally, like HP who does service provisioning, they have the people who go out and build, and an entirely separate business that runs it. To that end, that’s where part of the preventative is for the end-user base looking to move to cloud – it’s that comfort that someone can operate and run it, not just build it,” he said.
IDC’s Linus Lai agreed that if customers went to the build guys, they’d say build, but a managed services provider would push the managed route. It was therefore important for integrators to do both efficiently and effectively and to identify which makes sense for each customer.
“Nothing will be 100 per cent right for everyone. Technology is actually really simple – we tend to make it complicated – but the hard part is the process, people and making it deliver what you want it to deliver,” Altit said.
“Some of the opportunity, as well, is representing to the customer those choices and helping them manage the choices,” Cisco’s Dylan Morison added. “Instead of buying hardware from Cisco, you are buying a service or utility from a service provider, and the channel partner is the one that integrates it all together to give you the outcome.”