From The Editor | June 8, 2010

Insight on the Future of Cloud Computing

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By Gennifer Biggs, security, storage, and managed services editor

I had a great chance to learn more about Rackspace Hosted when I sat next to Lew Moorman, president and CSO of Rackspace, during dinner before the Ingram Micro Cloud Summit kicked off. I also heard Moorman's enthusiasm about the channel and the opportunity swirling around cloud offerings for IT providers. Moorman shared his insights with those gathered for the Cloud Summit on June 7 in Dallas.

Rackspace kicked off the event by announcing its new partnership with Ingram Micro, explained to me by Christopher Rajiah, director of North American Channels and Rackspace's newest addition to its channel leadership, which is directed by Robert Fuller, former AMD channel marketing chief. After relaunched its global partner program late last year, Rackspace wanted to find new ways to reach channel innovator looking to capitalize on cloud offerings. That led to conversations with Ingram Micro's Seismic division, and the announcement this week that Rackspace would now be part of the Seismic community, allowing MSPs to white label solutions hosted by Rackspace. "We were particularly interested in Ingram Micro because we now have a partner as interested in helping the channel work in the cloud as we are," says Rajiah. "We want to make it easy for them to adopt this new model." Learn more here.

Moorman stresses the same message in his presentation, that vendor partners such as Rackspace want to help the channel adopt the cloud, delivering to customers the effectiveness of solutions that are cheaper, more accessible, and allow a pay-as-you-need approach to IT. He used an analogy to highlight the pros and cons of cloud, comparing full cloud offerings as similar to hotels while on-premise IT is similar to owning a home. "When you own a home, you have to do it all, and you have control over it all, and that is what it is like if we all own our data centers," explained Moorman. "But in a hotel, you get everything you need, but the choices are predetermined and you just pay for what you need, when you need it, and that is what the cloud provides. You may have a little less control over what servers go in our cloud solution or how the load is balanced, but you don't have to worry about any other details either."

Moorman's advice to MSPs: Remember that cloud is for everyone, but not necessarily for everything. He suggests solutions providers understand when cloud is the right tool for the job. For example, perhaps a customer is better off leaving legacy apps on-premise but pushing standard applications to the cloud for more efficiencies. Your job as MSPs, he stresses, is understanding the technology and more importantly, the places in your customer's business where the cloud can have an impact, and then lead your customer there. "Customers need a trusted advisor to handle evaluation, implementation, and support," says Moorman. "So don't be afraid to continue to consult and advise on how to best use these services."

How do you do that? Embrace the cloud so you are aligning your business to how customers will consume IT in the future; don't waste time building these solutions but rather find a partner; and then continue to delivery traditional solutions as a service. In addition, he recommends developing additional services to enhance your new cloud-based offerings, and making sure you have adjusted your business model around the idea of recurring revenue that comes from cloud solutions.

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