The user benefits of moving to a pay-as-you-go cloud-based offering such as Office 365 or Google Docs applications are pretty compelling, not just because you can move costs from capex to opex, but also because you can offload the support and hardware overhead to a third party.
Resellers are figuring out how they should adapt their businesses and use their current product experience and expertise to exploit the new opportunities the cloud may offer.
Clearly, many smaller businesses will still require day-to-day IT support from a partner. Users will still need some type of end-point device and a point of connection configured with the right amount of bandwidth. But this may not plug the hole in channel revenues.
Many early adopters are finding out, I believe, that the cloud experience can be less than perfect, particularly at peak times. So specialist WAN optimisation products and services will definitely come more to the fore.
Alongside Quality of Service (QoS), security is frequently cited as an inhibitor to full-scale cloud adoption. Businesses quite rightly are concerned about surrendering control of critical data to a third party, particularly when the physical location could be anywhere.
Companies with the resources of Microsoft, Google, or Amazon can afford to triple-lock down their datacentres. Yet hackers can and do find ways into even the most secure networks.
As Sony and RSA found out last year, even the most heavily fortified network is only as strong as its weakest link. Most SaaS users share a common interface and password authentication as the default access route. Furthermore, many companies do not realise they do not have to accept one-size-fits-all security policies in a standard package offered by cloud providers.
Since these security issues do not seem to be slowing down the rate of cloud adoption to any significant degree, this means, I think, that agile resellers should introduce innovative services that boost cloud security.
In practice, this means working with organisations to cover the whole of the corporate IT infrastructure - LAN, WAN, and cloud.
Yes, it will take some effort and re-skilling in some cases, but the alternative is an inevitable decline as the rest of the market moves on into the clouds.
Sarah McNicol is UK channel director at Swivel Secure
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