THE CLOUD SERVICES ENABLEMENT PLATFORM                                                         White Paper:             Th...
ThinkGrid: WhitepaperCopyright. 2008-2011. All information subject to copyright of ThinkGrid
The boom in cloud computing over the past few yearshas led to a situation that is common to manyinnovations and new techno...
What is Cloud Computing?Many people are confused as to exactly what cloud computing is, especially as the term can be used...
Figure 1.0Can partners roll out their own Cloud offerings?Despite the tug of war between tech vendors and channel partners...
The cloud offers a fantastic opportunity for partners to do what they do best, understand the specific needs ofthe end use...
The ThinkGrid Channel ProgrammeThe ThinkGrid model is designed to offer a complete range of IT as a Service offerings – ev...
Components of the Private Label platformWhite labelling lets you fully re-brand ThinkGrid’s IT platform in order to provid...
About ThinkGridThinkGrid is the platform of choice for IT solution providers to migrate their SMB customers’ from on-premi...
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Channel In The Cloud White Paper V1 1

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Channel In The Cloud White Paper V1 1

  1. 1. THE CLOUD SERVICES ENABLEMENT PLATFORM White Paper: The disruption of cloud computing to the channelThinkGrid: WhitepaperCopyright. 2008-2011. All information subject to copyright of ThinkGrid
  2. 2. ThinkGrid: WhitepaperCopyright. 2008-2011. All information subject to copyright of ThinkGrid
  3. 3. The boom in cloud computing over the past few yearshas led to a situation that is common to manyinnovations and new technologies: many have heard ofit, but far fewer actually understand what it is and,more importantly, how it can benefit them. Thiswhitepaper will attempt to go through how the impactof Cloud computing is affecting the IT channel and howThinkGrid provide enablement to engage with this newand exciting technology.IntroductionForrester estimates that more than 60% of tech industry revenues are generated through channel partnersincluding IT consultants, Value Added Resellers (VARs) & Managed Service Providers (MSPs), often by servingcustomers deemed otherwise unreachable by tech vendors directly due to complexity and mix of service.However, cloud technology options, including software-as-a-service (SaaS), are poised to significantly alterchannel structures by facilitating direct - and profitable - service links between technology vendors andtechnology customers. Vendors, channel partners, and customers will each make choices that collectively willpermanently alter tech industry channels as the emergence of cloud options accelerates. Customers can beexpected to do what’s best for them from a service, relationship, and pricing standpoint. The real questionsare:  What will be the real impacts on channel partners? The diffusion of cloud options across tech markets will not be smooth. Adoption will differ by solution domain, vertical segment, geographic location, and customer company size. Consequently, different classes of channel partners will feel the impacts differently.  What will channel partners do in response to cloud technology impacts? The ability of channel partners to respond to cloud impacts differs as well. Financial resources, business models, local competitive realities, facilities for learning new skills, etc., are not universal across channel partners. As a result, an extensive array of responses — many of which will seem utterly irrational and potentially destructive — should be expected.  Will tech vendors help partners transition? Or take steps to make things worse? Not all technology companies truly treat their channels as an asset. For some, their channel is their lifeblood; for others, their channel is an exercise in sales cost optimization. Consequently, tech vendors will pursue very different approaches to current channel relationships, which will give plenty of fodder for the Chicken Little types who presume that the sky is about to fall on the heads of channel partners.ThinkGrid: WhitepaperCopyright. 2008-2011. All information subject to copyright of ThinkGrid
  4. 4. What is Cloud Computing?Many people are confused as to exactly what cloud computing is, especially as the term can be used to meanalmost anything. Roughly, it describes highly scalable computing resources provided as an external service viathe internet on a pay-as-you-go basis. The cloud is simply a metaphor for the internet, based on the symbolthat’s used to represent the worldwide network in computer network diagrams.Economically, the main appeal of cloud computing is that customers only use what they need, and only pay forwhat they actually use. Resources are available to be accessed from the cloud at any time, and from anylocation via the internet. There’s no need to worry about how things are being maintained behind the scenes –you simply purchase the IT service you require as you would any other utility. Because of this, cloud computinghas also been called utility computing, or ‘IT on demand’.This new, web-based generation of computing utilises remote servers housed in highly secure data centres fordata storage and management, so organisations no longer need to purchase and look after their IT solutionsin-house.Distributors and VAR’s are going to be “Hardest Hit”With the growth in cloud technology adoption, channel processes built around moving, configuring, orservicing things in the tech value chain are most negatively impacted. With software no longer being physicallydelivered and implemented at the customer’s site:  Implementation services are waning. One quarter of VARs’ revenues come today from professional services, including software implementation and configuration services. While configuration will remain a viable revenue stream for more complex enterprise software, partners’ traditional physical implementation and upgrade services revenue will be severely impacted.  The physical logistics business is hitting a ceiling. As their traditional title implies, distributors were originally created to provide inventory and financial services for vendors and resellers. As product margins have shrunk, successful distributors have added many other services to their portfolios. They are likely to increase their investment and delivery of the various marketing and sales services, including partner recruitment and partner enablement.  Distributors are also evaluating their potential role assisting resellers to become MSPs. Some will invest in their own physical data centres to serve as cloud centres that the partners can leverage; others will retail infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) to partners but deliver it through wholesaling cloud providers like the telcos.  Partners Are Planning For Business Model Adaptation: Product Sales Down, Services Up Channel partners see the writing on the cloud wall and are tweaking their business models. Notably, partners are putting fewer of their eggs in the product reseller basket, as they anticipate an increasingly larger share of technology to be delivered as some form of cloud service. But the partners’ plans for expanding their services portfolio will more than make up for their anticipated decline in product sales revenue (see Figure 1).ThinkGrid: WhitepaperCopyright. 2008-2011. All information subject to copyright of ThinkGrid
  5. 5. Figure 1.0Can partners roll out their own Cloud offerings?Despite the tug of war between tech vendors and channel partners over cloud offerings, partners are lookingto position themselves as cloud services providers, utilising their existing customer base and offering highermargin services which also yield continued professional services.However partners delivering their own cloud infrastructure to support such services face barriers. A survey ofour own channel partners cite a number of barriers they face in effecting a cloud-based business model: thehigh cost associated with building out and maintaining a cloud infrastructure, skill set staffing, and anoverarching lack of knowledge with respect to business model adaption (see Figure 5). For those tech vendorsthat want to enable their channel partners, these represent competitive opportunities:Figure 2.0Why are partners essential to cloud uptake?Any new service or way of doing things requires an effort to be understood and implemented which end-usersrarely have the time or expertise to do. The cloud services model does offer end-users exciting newcapabilities but there is a big gap between what is understood at a high level and the actual work that needs tobe done to move tactical IT to the cloud. Many of the services out there are just like traditional IT i.e. aconsultative sell, which requires planning, design and migration not something that is bought through ashopping cart.ThinkGrid: WhitepaperCopyright. 2008-2011. All information subject to copyright of ThinkGrid
  6. 6. The cloud offers a fantastic opportunity for partners to do what they do best, understand the specific needs ofthe end user quantify their requirements into services that can be applied from the cloud, and thenundertaking the work needed to help the end-user get on boarded. A BT, Google or Microsoft does not havethose capabilities given such a wide spectrum of applications and uses in the market, and cannot provide thekey support and local touch.Channel is perfectly placed for servicing SMBs and helping them into the Cloud because SMB’s need:  Aggregated services from many different vendors and ISV’s  Migration, guidance and support  Integration with their existing IT services  Specific vertical market applications which require an Open platform  Want a true/local relationship with their providerHow ThinkGrid Enable PartnersFor too long, tech vendors have relied on product margins as the incentive to drive channel partnerproductivity and behaviour. With more and more product being displaced by technology “as-a-service,”channel marketers must reinvent the value-add in the cloud demand chain and incentivise channel partners.ThinkGrid offer exactly this model and provide partners with:  Overcoming business model roadblocks. It is not just about services, it’s about changing the business from the traditional sales, marketing and delivery to a new one of on-demand sales, recurring revenue and up-sell and cross-sell opportunities. ThinkGrid’s partner team help with the transition of personnel within partners’ to help then with different selling strategies, how these new technologies are of benefit for business, and spotting opportunities. It’s also about phasing the cloud services into the existing business to prevent revenue?  Make them better marketers. In the coming washout of channel partners, as a result of so many parties vying for the cloud services business, one of the telling differences between the winners and losers will be marketing. ThinkGrid’s investment in educating end users and providing a clear message helps partners pass on the information and get traction quickly with their customers.  Transitioning business process Moving from traditional invoicing and billing systems for perpetual or simple products and service to a model where thousands of transactions are taking place for different services at different times is a challenge to adjust. ThinkGrid provides the entire back office for billing and customer management that can be integrated and adapted to handle these new pressures and make them seamless with partners’ existing business.  Connect them to each other in a collaborative ecosystem. Some partners want to be infrastructure kings, some sell very well, and others are development and integration wizards. Hooking these partners to each other, benefits all parties. ThinkGrid introduces partners to other partners who can fill gaps in each other’s knowledge to deliver a full end to end solution to the customer.ThinkGrid: WhitepaperCopyright. 2008-2011. All information subject to copyright of ThinkGrid
  7. 7. The ThinkGrid Channel ProgrammeThe ThinkGrid model is designed to offer a complete range of IT as a Service offerings – everything fromdesktops to servers, individual applications to email and VoIP. This enables businesses of all sizes to moveaway from the cumbersome, CapEx intensive process of buying, managing and maintaining their IT in favour ofa flexible, on-demand and fully supported hosted infrastructure.Our model of hosted cloud services offers partners a unique opportunity to deliver services to a large, poorly-served sector – small and mid-sized businesses - and work with us to deliver end-to-end solutions. Werecognise that our partners play a vital role in customers’ satisfaction and in our success. You understand yourcustomers’ vertical IT needs, budgets and challenges and working with ThinkGrid you can match your expertisewith our highly available cloud services to solve real business problems.The ThinkGrid Channel Programme is intended to enable partners and reward those who can deliver the bestIT solutions to their customers. Our platform is designed to provide our channel partners with the automatedbusiness processes (billing, provisioning and customer management) and aggregation of IT services throughone pane of glass.We also provide you with collateral, proactive go-to-market campaigns and compelling productdemonstrations to enable you to easily sell face-to-face, on the phone or even over a customised webinar.Benefits of Selling Cloud ComputingRecurring Revenue Stream Expandable Service PortfolioEarn healthy predictable revenue monthly, rather Sell additional services into existing customersthan on a one-time, per project basis. without additional overhead. Add value in migration, deployment and integration of solutions.Reduced OverheadUtilize ThinkGrid’s centralised, fully managed Differentiationplatform to rapidly build and deliver standardised Offer "pay-as-you-go" solutions in addition tosolutions for efficient management and support. traditional capital investment solutions to become the ‘go-to’ partner.Customer LoyaltyOur platform enables ongoing contact, excellent Competesupport and broad service offerings to ensure Arm yourself with an enterprise level platform andlong term customer relationships, deep traction build customised cloud solutions for your customersand protection from competitors. as well as protect them from direct sales vendors such as Microsoft, Amazon and Google.ThinkGrid: WhitepaperCopyright. 2008-2011. All information subject to copyright of ThinkGrid
  8. 8. Components of the Private Label platformWhite labelling lets you fully re-brand ThinkGrid’s IT platform in order to provide an on-demand service to yourcustomers through a platform they will believe you are responsible for. This provides you with a tried andtested solution without any requirement for CapEx investments and the ability to launch within weeks ratherthan yearsPrivate Clouds Customer management and communicationPrivate clouds are perfect for customers or Control all of your customer information, invoicing,partners who wish to have their own dedicated products and services. Drive up-sell and cross-sell.cloud hardware either on or off-premise. This You can also use the system to send newsletterscan be for legal reasons, business policy or and information to your customer base.security. Customer InterfacesPlan and service creation A fully branded aggregated web-based interfaceBuild your own cloud computing service lets your team and your customers access theirofferings, resources and bundles. Price them services. Easy and intuitive, allowing them to self-however you wish - billing period, discounts and help and thus reduce support needs. Instant accesspromotions, etc. Tailor them to specific vertical to services, and ability to change them on demand.markets or your target customer base. Language Packs available allowing for easy tailoring for overseas territories.Full APIThinkGrid includes powerful user interfaces to Ecommerce storemanage and provision services into the cloud For partners looking for transactional services,platform, but for those partners or customers ThinkGrid provides a brandable ecommerce storelooking to integrate an existing infrastructure or and self-service interfaces which link in to theexisting control panel, ThinkGrid provides an provisioning and processing automatically.API via XML RPC. Billing EngineBack office provisioning ThinkGrid provides a full utility billing system thatControl provisioning of your products and can handle pro-rata utility services and multipleservices and define rules for either automatic or payment types. As well as different currencies andmanual provisioning. Add in work flow for aging, the system can be used to manage and billpayment, and have real time management of your customers if you wish.services.ThinkGrid: WhitepaperCopyright. 2008-2011. All information subject to copyright of ThinkGrid
  9. 9. About ThinkGridThinkGrid is the platform of choice for IT solution providers to migrate their SMB customers’ from on-premiseto the cloud. We are a channel focused vendor providing turnkey worldwide infrastructure and a control panelplatform that allows IT solution providers to become cloud service providers; able to create, bill and manage ITservices from the cloud in real-time.Founded in 2008, ThinkGrid is a private corporation headquartered in the UK, with offices located in London,Seattle, Sydney, Belgrade and Lviv by an experienced management team. We operate tier 3 & 4 data centresacross the world to house our platform, which delivers real IT services such as Hosted Virtual Desktop, VirtualServer, and Voice over IP to our partners. Partners then can use our state-of-the-art software platform toprovision, bill, manage and service their customers in real-time.Getting in touch, please contact our team @ partners@thinkgrid.comThinkGrid: WhitepaperCopyright. 2008-2011. All information subject to copyright of ThinkGrid

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