Who wants to be a cloud provider?

A few weeks ago IBM (NYSE: IBM) announced they opened a huge cloud computing centre in Toronto. The story there was that IBM wanted to be a broadbased cloud provider.

The following week Edison Peres, the worldwide channel chief for Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) at that company’s Partner Summit in New Orleans, told me that Cisco would not be a broadbased cloud provider.Then at the HP (NYSE: HPQ) Americas Partner Conference in Las Vegas I had several executives from the U.S. and in Canada clearly telling me that HP wants to be a broadbased cloud provider.

So who has the right strategy? And, which strategy will work best for the channel at large?

These are still early days in the whole cloud evolution and so none of them are right or wrong.

The interesting aspect to these three announcements is that Cisco was adamant that vendors and channel partners know and accept their roles in the market place. And, for Cisco it doesn’t want to be a cloud provider. It would rather have its channel partners become that for customers. Sure they have WebEx and that’s a cloud-based meeting services tool. Just WebEx doesn’t make Cisco a broadbased cloud provider.

With IBM and to a certain extent HP, its Cloud Centre in Toronto will service customers and the channel.

According to IBM Canada, they wish to be open with the centre and enable its top channel partners to develop cloud services for customers. This strategy will lead to conflict in the market place, but IBM doesn ‘t see it that way. They believe that if they stick to just large enterprise customers and leave the mid-market and small business to the channel they can all work cohesively.

Solution provider Buchanan & Associates president Stephen Sweett concurred with that logic. He admits there’s potential for conflict, but the opportunity for his company to be that trusted advisor in the cloud for mid-market customers was just too great to pass up.

Leyland Brown, HP Canada’s acting chief of PSG, also believes HP can be a broadbased cloud provider and help the channel with its cloud services offerings.

HP’s strategy, similar to IBM, will be an open cloud platform that creates re-occurring revenue steams for channel partners. That, she says, is the goal. HP plans on opening 38 cloud centres of excellence to further this strategy. She added that at HP Canada, a large percentage of its business goes through the channel and so it will be up to the Canadian subsidiary to make it work.

And, I think that’s going to hold true as the cloud market develops. Channel partners will have to take some risks or some leaps of faith this year and see if they pay off down the road.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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