Why Everyone Wins When Cloud Computing Meets the Channel

Selling cloud computing –- especially of the externally hosted variety -– to established businesses is no easy feat. They understand the potential benefits, but they’ve just spent years and possibly large sums of money on virtualization efforts, and they have their own specific problems that aren’t easily addressed by one-size-fits-all cloud offerings. As I discuss in my weekly column at GigaOM Pro, in order to remedy such sales obstacles, many cloud companies are turning to channel partners — systems integrators, resources, telcos and the like. As trusted faces for many businesses, they can offer personalized service that many cloud providers cannot.

One provider making no secret of its channel strategy is OpSource. The company said this week that it’s appointed telco veteran Keao Caindec as senior VP and CMO, with the hopes that he’ll use his experience to make that channel a major distributor of OpSource’s cloud services. Indeed, the combination of telcos’ experience serving enterprise IT with OpSource’s enterprise-grade cloud-computing and SaaS-hosting platforms is a near-perfect match. And Caindec said OpSource expects that going forward, more than half its business will be driven by channel partners.

Even cloud vendors are getting into the channel game. During a recent conversation with Elastra’s Stu Charlton, he informed me that the company is seeing a large degree of interest from systems integrators. The rationale is quite simple: They want a solution that lets them test customers’ applications on the cheap, or that lets them port legacy applications to the cloud, and Elastra provides just such a solution with Cloud Server.

Recently, IT distribution giant Ingram Micro launched its Cloud Conduit program, which gives its channel customers the ability to sell cloud services to their customers. Proving that the biggest names in cloud computing also see the value of channel partnerships, the three initial partners in Ingram Micro’s program are Amazon Web Services, Rackspace Hosting and Salesforce.com.

All in all, cloud computing channel partnerships appear to be a win-win-win arrangement for all parties involved. Resellers get in on a hot market without making huge investments (OpSource’s Caindec mentioned one telco partner that believed it lost several million in the last quarter because it lacked a cloud offering), cloud providers increase the visibility and attractiveness of their offerings, and end users get cheaper IT without having to learn the intricacies of developing or managing applications to run in the cloud.

For more on this burgeoning cloud ecosystem, including who might end up losing as a result of it, read the full post here. And join me next week at our annual cloud computing-focused conference, Structure.