With adoption of IT as a service on the rise, it’s time to plan for the cloud computing inevitabilityMonday, February 1st, 2010
CompTIA, the well-known IT channel industry association, released some research a few weeks ago that points to a strong upswing in adoption of managed services and software as a service during 2010.
Their survey of more than 400 U.S.-based SMBs finds that close to 30 percent plan to start using software as a service (SaaS) in an attempt to reduce costs; that’s up from 22 percent one year ago. Moreover, about the same number expect to flip the switch on managed services in 2010. Here’s some insight from Tim Herbert, who is CompTIA’s vice president of research:
“Technology providers may be well advised to approach SMBs with either new IT solutions that represent low perceived risk or replacement solutions that positively impact productivity and efficiency. There’s also an opportunity to provide ongoing maintenance services to help SMBs better manage their IT systems under current business conditions.”
So what does this have to do with the cloud? In a word, everything.
In the rush to come up with a sexy term for every new IT movement, those that evangelize cloud computing are, quite simply, advocating the push to more efficient IT infrastructure. SaaS and managed services are, if you will, part of the cloud evolution and they are laying the groundwork for broader adoption of IT as a service.
According to research firm IDC, worldwide IT spending on cloud services will triple over the next two years to reach $42 billion worldwide by 2012. More than 50 percent of the organizations that plan to embrace cloud infrastructure or application options are looking to cut costs, according to the IDC data.
Businesses are interested in “the cloud” for three big reasons:
- They can get new applications up and running more quickly (at least in theory).
- They can let their IT staff worry about more strategic concerns, such as customer service applications instead of e-mail administration.
- They can switch some IT expenses from capital expenditures into ongoing operational expenses, charged on a recurring basis.
Most of the time, when someone uses the term “cloud computing,” they are referring to the idea of using infrastructure hosted externally by a large service provider, such as Amazon.com or Savvis or Salesforce.com. But it’s important the cloud computing concept—and all virtualization skills and management services it requires—will also apply to internal data centers, where it will allow businesses more flexibility about applications and services they can deploy inside their firewall.
So, what does the push to the cloud mean for the high-tech channel?
- The chances a midsize or larger enterprise will host ALL applications or infrastructure in the cloud are slim. E-mail and databases are the first things likely to shift in that direction. That means oodles of opportunity for VARs and IT solution providers with application integration skills. Knowledge of security, compliance and identity management will also be critical.
- Larger service providers cannot touch every customer prospect, so they will seek technology experts who can represent and recommend the advantages of their particular infrastructures.
- IT solution providers will need to adjust their operational models to accommodate a very different payment and revenue stream than in the past.
- At a minimum, IT solution providers must be familiar with which cloud computing options are at their disposal, so they can discuss both pros and cons with their prospects.
We suggest all elements of the high-tech channel spend time putting some substance about what the cloud will mean for their business a year from now – and three years from now.
- Perform a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis to unearth investment requirements and sales potential for a cloud practice
- Understand whether you should build your own cloud infrastructure or recommend someone else’s
- Define acceptable service levels and procedures for evaluating the technical and business merits of emerging cloud infrastructure options
- Develop a unique service and solution proposition that builds upon your existing sales efforts and that recognizes potential areas of conflict
- Engage all members of your channel in the cloud dialogue for feedback