By Gennifer Biggs, security, storage, and managed services editor
Lead analyst for Gartner, Tiffani Bova, took the stage on the first day of Ingram Micro's Cloud Summit, following the event's intro session with Renee Bergeron, VP of managed services and cloud. Bova covered her usual amount of territory — a lot — and left the audience with some words of wisdom: "We are at an inflection point. The sky isn't falling; cloud just another delivery model. But it is an inflection point nonetheless."
Bova reviewed the trends she has identified for 2011, including vertically focused solutions providers; increasing cloud management needs; the value of ISVs, thanks to the "there's an app for that" mindset; distributors shifting to an aggregator role; more vendor offerings in the cloud; and changes in the role of sales in solutions providers' businesses.
She called out a handful of trends in particular. "As providers move to offer end-to-end solution sets, my advice is to partner, partner, partner," Bova advises. "Services providers will find mergers/acquisitions one of the best ways to move into new tech offerings as convergence hits channel." She also talked about the value of application development, namely to ability to deliver custom apps to the marketplace. Lastly, Bova discussed the need to use services to pull customers closer, especially as some of those customers consider direct relationships with cloud providers. As part of the shift to cloud platforms, Bova also suggested the need to explore new pricing models, new vendors, and new compensation plans for sales teams.
In terms of growth opportunities, Bova stressed that the priorities across the enterprise, midmarket, and SMB spaces are nearly identical, with cloud ranking as the top priority for businesses, followed by virtualization and mobile technologies. "The reason is because cloud is a sea-change," says Bova. "Cloud computing disrupts business models, operating principles, and competitive strategies, and that is why the cloud is your future."
Among the drivers for cloud adoption: cost reduction, deployment flexibility, speed to implementation, easier migration from old apps, and agility. Still inhibiting the adoption of cloud are security, unclear potential for customization, integration issues, uncertain reliability, and unproven ROI.
The bottom line, says Bova, is that solutions providers should future-proof and plan for cloud deployments just as with traditional solutions. The best place for you in this new eco-system? Serve a cloud broker and transact cloud offerings, a position Bova identifies as the "single largest revenue growth op in cloud through 2015."