Ahead of the clouds at third CRN forum

Channel players thriving in the new cloud computing environment will meet Thursday 14 June to develop strategies for the future. Fleur Doidge reports

By Fleur Doidge

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08 Jun 2012

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Road sign indicating rewards just ahead on sunny day with clouds

They say that good things come in threes, and with that in mind, in just a few days CRN is holding its third Cloud Computing Forum in London. Three years on, the industry remains in flux, although cloud itself has moved more or less overhead from the spot much nearer the horizon it occupied back in 2010.

So what have we learned and what still needs to be done? The transformation of the IT industry signified by the increasing migration to cloud-based services has if anything sped up - yet many channel players are still struggling with the business model, as well as ways of providing incentives to sales forces born and bred in a world of chunky, one-off commissions rather than recurring revenue.

All resellers and distributors are invited and limited spots remain available via online registration to discuss the latest issues, opportunities and challenges of cloud with CRN and a team of experts at the Cloud Computing Forum on Thursday 14 June 2012.

The half-day seminar takes place from 8:30am to 2pm, including a delicious lunch, at Le Meridién Piccadilly, just two minutes’ walk west from Piccadilly Circus underground station. This year’s theme is collaboration, innovation and engagement, with the aim of addressing the main pain points for the channel, moving beyond the hype to provide practical advice and direction for profitability.

Vendors have to be more creative with their partner programmes and strategies, while resellers may yet need to redefine their entire business model. And what about distributors? Many believe the role of distribution may be even more critical, and distributors should be more innovative in defining their roles.

The event will delve into recent experiences among leading channel players operating in the cloud space to spotlight the major challenges of selling and implementing cloud offerings, and outline the best ways to innovate and collaborate on an offering. Delegates who attend will leave even better prepared for their next steps in profiting from cloud transformation.

Logicalis' Chris GabrielAttendance is free, thanks to headline sponsors Rackspace and Westcoastcloud, which have both blazed a trail in cloud computing. Speakers include Nigel Beighton, Rackspace’s vice president of technology, who enjoys breaking down problems into their component parts to come up with a solution.

Westcoastcloud is the white-label cloud services division of UK-based managed hosting provider iomart. Bill Strain, the director, has a sound understanding of the possibilities for sustained growth in cloud computing, and reckons high margins and profitability are indeed achievable in the reseller community. A forecast of cloud is great news, he says.

“Increasing numbers of organisations are moving their IT solutions from traditional models to embrace the cloud and take advantage of the many benefits such a move provides,” says Strain. “What are the current and future challenges facing IT in a changing environment? How can cloud computing address these challenges?”

A man who needs little introduction to CRN readers, Logicalis’ vice president of solutions management Chris Gabriel (pictured, above right), is also offering delegates his opinions at the event. Gabriel will help resellers understand their new role pre- and post-cloud migration, going beyond redefinition of the business model to delineate their new position and responsibilities to both vendors and customers.

He will also go over the ways resellers can get involved with cloud, and suggest the best places to start in a role that suits. Gabriel promises to outline the ways to achieve both a compelling service and a favourable yet fair pricing structure.

Andy Burton, chairman of the Cloud Industry Forum, chief executive of Fasthosts Internet, and overseer of the new self-certification code of practice for cloud services providers created in 2011, is giving a presentation on effective partnering on cloud provision.

“As basic as this might sound, it really is an ongoing issue within the industry,” he notes. Burton promises five top tips that will help VARs and other providers avoid the pitfalls, and questions that every provider should ask of themselves and of their partners.

Ancoris' David MclemanDavid McLeman (pictured, left), managing director of cloud player Ancoris, will round off the programme with a discussion of the best ways to support the sales team to do their best within a cloud sales environment. McLeman has been involved with cloud since 1999, when he worked at application services provider Netstore, delivering hosted messaging based on Microsoft Exchange.

Sara Yirrell, editor of CRN, says she hopes readers and other channel companies will take advantage of the opportunity at Cloud Computing Forum 2012.

“Cloud issues are not going to go away, and it is time to take stock and assess the channel’s progress after another year has passed. I look forward to networking with you all,” she adds.

• For more information and registration, go to http://events.channelweb.co.uk/cloudforum

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