Hundreds of providers are offering an array of cloud models and services. For years analysts have told us the way forward will be enterprise hybrid cloud, that businesses will have on-premise private cloud environments that will eventually burst into service provider clouds.
Private cloud is gradually becoming reality for many large enterprises. Hybrid cloud is where private cloud was three years ago - actual deployments are low, but aspirations remain high.
With private clouds actually being delivered by service providers, how should the channel evolve into managed services providers, differentiating their cloud offerings to deliver agility and choice to enterprises while still making money? And how might the aspirations of the likes of Amazon be challenged in the enterprise market?
Should you provide a private on-premise cloud offering? A virtual private offering? A hybrid offering? Or perhaps a public shared offering? Obviously you need the right SLAs, and locations for your target customer base. There are three options.
Those wanting to offer on-premise cloud to a target audience of medium-sized to large enterprises and hardware resellers can profit from a repeatable cloud build service, offering both software and hardware.
Existing skills can be used via on-premise cloud with the ability to use Amazon's commodity infrastructure services through the same interface, security and process controls. You can also offer application repositories, helping maintain and increase revenue for software licences, and even enhanced services such as remote monitoring and capacity planning.
The second option is to become a cloud distributor - build a cloud environment, use Amazon (or do both) and sell private partitions on that cloud environment. MSPs with a target market of VARs, integrators, ISVs and enterprises can build infrastructure to order and sell it with value-added services, using existing skills in hardware, virtualisation and VM template creation.
Customers can avoid virtualisation vendor-lock in and have a number of choices for storage and compute. VARs and ISVs can also use template repositories to offer customised sets of VM and software images to their own end customers.
The third option is to become the cloud provider of choice for your target market. Sell capacity on an IAAS platform based on hosted hardware and Amazon, which can be resold with value-added services such as application and OS support, software-defined networking, flexible billing options and preconfigured application templates.
This provides customers with flexibility and choice; the right platform for the right workload. MSPs can embrace the commodity infrastructure service providers in the industry, rather than competing head to head.
Deliver more than infrastructure, using managed hosting and services, OS knowledge, and an ability to integrate seamlessly.
Combine value-added services that provide enterprises with agility, choice and efficiency in a tightly focused hosting environment built from both dedicated components and hyperscale IaaS providers. This will be gold dust for MSP profits in today's dynamic market.
Ian Finlay is vice president of product at Abiquo
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