Guest Column | June 3, 2014

Why Solution Providers Must Adapt For Cloud Services Management

LNS Research: How Legacy Systems Are Holding Manufacturers Back

By Justin Crotty, Senior Vice President and General Manager, NetEnrich, Inc.

The “work anytime, anywhere” trend is changing the face of how business gets done, in more ways than one. For example, businesses of all sizes, in response to growing demand for 24/7 access to critical business applications and documents via remote desktops, tablets, and even smart phones, are layering on an increasing number of cloud-based services designed to support this ubiquitous computing culture.

Yet, as their usage of cloud services grows, these same businesses are finding themselves face-to-face with a host of new challenges that come from managing cloud services, alongside their existing on-premise IT infrastructure.

VARs and MSPs are well positioned to reap the benefits that come from helping these businesses manage their end-to-end IT infrastructures. Some of these benefits include recurring revenue streams that over the long run will drive the sustainability of their services businesses. However, before they head down the cloud services management path, they must first identify the ways in which their business must adapt to be successful in this endeavor.

When I meet with channel partners to talk about the challenges they face, one of the things often overlooked in conversation is the difference between managing cloud services and providing a good user experience. Simply checking the box doesn’t cut it. To differentiate themselves, resellers and solutions providers must be able to deliver a cohesive and high-quality portfolio of management services that meet the stringent SLAs.

So, how can these organizations successfully adapt their business model for cloud services management?

  1. Buy, Don’t Build. Many VARs and MSPs make the mistakes that come from a “Do-it-Yourself” mentality. They figure it must be easier to build their own cloud services management capabilities, rather than buy them. For some, this may be the case, but most couldn’t be further from the truth. The better answer is to partner with providers whose sole focus is to manage complex IT environments. When you partner on the back-end services, it allows you to focus on the front-end, customer facing activities that will lead to the growth of tour business.
  2. Choose the Right Partner. Some of the most successful resellers and solution providers I know are leveraging partners to elevate their game and deliver exceptional cloud management services. But you must choose the right partner to be successful. First, identify partners that can be trusted, and have the capacity to deliver and manage a variety of services offerings with lower operating costs. Next, ensure that your partners will provide you with access to the technology and know-how that will translate into the faster time-to-market for your managed services offerings.
  3. Update Your Sales Structure. Selling cloud management services is not the same as reselling hardware and software. The sales cycle is much longer, with a different payout scenario. You must have a dedicated salesperson in place whose job it is every day to drive the recurring sales model for your business. Don’t rely on fractional resources to do this.

One of the most important pieces of advice that I have for VARs and MSPs who are interested in expanding their businesses into cloud service is to adapt accordingly. The cloud services business is the next frontier and there is a new sheriff in town. When you do your homework, partner and take the time to learn the ropes, you’ll be saddled up and on the road to cloud services management success in virtually no time at all.

Justin Crotty serves as senior vice president and general manager for NetEnrich Inc. He’s responsible for driving growth and scale for NetEnrich and its partners and customers. Prior to joining NetEnrich, Crotty conceived and launched the services division at Ingram Micro, where his team built and grew the first and most innovative managed and cloud services business in IT distribution. Widely recognized as an IT channel champion, Crotty has held management positions in IT sales and marketing, and began his career as an IT network engineer with IBM.