What do I mean by this? Well people are not going out looking for cloud-based solutions (“I want some cloud”), instead they are looking for a solution to a real problem. Some users are unknowingly using a cloud-based solution (either in their business or personal lives) and are quickly seeing the benefits. Take for example Dropbox, a free tool for sharing (large) files across devices seamlessly, easily and from anywhere, where users adopt it from a need that it solves and not because of the technology factor behind it or because of any cloud hype.
Cloud computing is expected to enjoy an adoption rate and growth of between 30 to 40 percent per year, every year for the next five years and its promise of substantial benefits will drive this adoption. A 2012 customer study from Rise indicates that 94% of IT departments expect to expand their use of cloud in the next 12 months.
The whole cloud evolution has stirred up a large discussion in all spheres of the channel, unfortunately usually focused on the concerns rather than the opportunity – these ranging from ‘where does distribution fit?’, through to ‘how do I transfer an up-front revenue model to an annuity based model whilst keeping cash flow alive and kicking?’
Questions I have heard from the reseller channel across events, meetings and roundtables over the past 12 months are wide and varied, however a key group of questions and concerns come up again and again;
• “Vendors will sell it direct”
• “Where’s the services revenue for me as a reseller?”
• “There’s no differentiator for us as a reseller”
• “The margins are too low”
• “Customers can buy it online, why should we resell it?”
• “Why should I sell monthly billing cloud when with products I get paid up front?”
• “How do I fund the transition period to get from lump-sum to over time billing?”
• “I don’t want my existing customers switching to cheaper cloud solutions!”
• “I want to bill my customer, not have the vendor do it!”
We still hear the downers on cloud even from an end user adoption scenario – the news stories of gloom, fear and disdain. It was not so long ago that Internet shopping was placed in the same bucket, and yet this has become the norm and is continuing to enjoy compound growth and affect the traditional bricks-and-mortar retail arena.
There is plenty of hype on the ‘cloud’ and certainly plenty of discussion and content, and yet reports and audiences still show a need for education on the terms, benefits and realities of this growing form factor. Top concerns of businesses in survey after survey on the cloud, continue to be security, data sovereignty and reliability. In a recent end user study from the Cloud Industry Forum 62% of companies using or planning to use cloud indicated Data Security was their prime concern. When it comes to individuals the top concern in the IT arena is job loss and reduction of individual value.
In my experience with the channel there is a lack of knowledge of cloud solutions, terminology and how to relate them to solving customer problems. In a webinar I ran in March I held a survey of the audience asking who could confidently explain the following to a prospective client : PaaS, IaaS, SaaS, Private, Public, Hybrid Cloud. And not one attendee voted yes confidently they could! In fact the weight was behind the lower end of I couldn’t explain it well at all!
If this is the case in the channel and surveys and reports from end users show they are lacking the knowledge then there is a strong opportunity for the channel to up their game, educate, understand and bring value to clients in a consultative manner. To be the ‘trusted advisors’ who can understand the customer’s business pain and objectives and help match cloud based propositions to those, guiding, handholding, configuring and securing the customers cloud steps along the way. With this comes margin, differentiation and customer value.
So with this growth and opportunity of cloud comes a change in skill requirements and job opportunities. One of CRN’s top 10 cloud predictions for 2012 is a growth in demand for cloud jobs as validated by an article in CIO magazine in early 2012. Cloud computing is and will have a major impact on skills across business, with IT being the most logically affected it will also impose itself onto roles in marketing, support and business roles in general. The demand for cloud-based skills already is showing signs of exploding. A recent report from Wanted Analytics, reported that hiring for cloud computing expertise showed a growth of 61 percent year over year. The cloud market is growing at such a pace that the number of job postings is accelerating and yet the talent qualifying for these roles is marginal.
Cloud offers opportunities for those that embrace the new form factor and self-educate and certify themselves for the needs of employers today and tomorrow. More education is needed in cloud across all sectors to enable businesses to understand and utilize this important new technology to its advantage. For the channel attaining certifications and education will be key across both technical, sales, marketing and management disciplines to enable effective decisions and activities to take place that bring value to customer engagements.
CompTIA’s Cloud Essentials certification is an example option that enables employees of varying roles to validate their cloud knowledge, take online training and exam condition testing, and differentiate themselves in the competitive job market. John McGlinchey,Vice President, Europe & Middle East, CompTIA commented “We have had a demand from the user market for a training curriculum with testing to support this rapidly growing new form factor. The demand and adoption is outstripping the skill base and it is key that individuals and businesses recognise and address this shortfall, before it becomes a serious issue for all concerned.”
More education is needed in cloud across all sectors to enable businesses to understand and utilize this important new technology option to its advantage and this need for understanding stretches past simply the border of the IT department. Expect to see more cloud courses and exams providing the market with the required validations in this new cloudy world. Ignoring cloud is no longer an option, utilizing it to your advantage is!