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Looking for a new cloud partner?

Tue 17 Nov 2015 | Ralph Varcoe

Find your perfect match with these tips

Channel growth for cloud services will be huge over the next five years. Companies are looking to innovate through the use of cloud, and it’s this wave that channel partners can ride to grow their businesses and help their customers transform.

Partners should always be looking to add value and offer a quality product (it’s their brand at stake too!) With that in mind, here are the important questions to ask when choosing a cloud provider:

Is your cloud partner in it for the long run?

It’s a booming and competitive cloud marketplace that has seen the arrival of a few “hyperscale” providers, numerous niche firms, as well as service providers that offer cloud alongside other infrastructure products like colocation and network services. You need to know that your chosen provider is big enough to meet market needs and has financial stability for longevity.

Not only is this vital in ensuring sustainability of your own propositions, but it’s important to make sure the cloud provider is able to make the necessary, ongoing investments to stay relevant.

How does the provider differentiate?

A cloud is a cloud is a cloud, right? Wrong! The actual cloud service of one provider may be pretty standard compared to another, but it’s the other services they offer, plus the ease of use, tools and service experience that will differentiate the ‘excellent’ from the ‘acceptable’. Check how the provider differentiates beyond virtual compute and storage. Make sure you choose a partner that enables you to grow beyond public cloud as your customers’ business grows and transforms.

Does the provider offer custom configuration sizes?

Many providers simply offer standard small, medium and large sizes, but what if you need a custom fit? When it comes to cloud, a standard approach means that even if you want a certain size cloud environment, you’ll often end up over-provisioning, which goes against the fundamental principle of the technology, which is to use only what you need.

Making sure the provider you select is able to scale to the actual environment in question means you’ll pay for what you need rather than over-pay for a pre-packaged volume that isn’t right for you.

Can they deliver a personalised experience on the platform?

People like technology to be representative of their preferences and productivity needs. Look at mobile phones as an example – modified background images, apps and settings all create a level of personalisation within the boundaries of a service provider. Cloud should behave the same way.

Asking this question will help you determine the level of flexibility available when it comes to running the cloud your way, not just in terms of the colour scheme and logos, but in terms of modifications to listed support phone numbers, email addresses and knowledge base links.

Personalisation options should extend beyond channel or reseller rebranding and allow your end user customer to make the offering look and feel like their own.  Customisation is different than white labelling and adds a whole other layer that improves the end-user experience.

Is there transparency around discounts?

Does your channel partner enable you to put money on your bottom line straight away? Discounts can be radically different when it comes to cloud computing. Some partners offer absolutely nothing, whereas others can offer discounts of up to 15 percent. Make sure this is clear from the outset.

Check that your partner provides transparency and a credible estimator tool that allows you to see exactly how much something is going to cost before you commit. Some cloud providers can sting you with “bolt-ons” and “extras” that aren’t made clear at the start, but which are actually needed to meet your objectives. Suddenly what seemed like a good deal can turn out to be quite the opposite.

Where are the cloud nodes and where will the data reside?

Not only do you need to know if the vendor has the cloud capabilities you’re looking for in the countries you need, but you also need to know where your data resides. This can be extremely important from data compliance and protection perspectives. Not all providers ensure your data stays in a certain location or can even tell you where it is.

What support is offered?

Check that levels of support can be tailored. Is someone available 24 hours a day to help you and your end customer build or transition services? Partners can fall victim to assuming a level of support that some cloud providers simply don’t provide.

What is the on-boarding process?

Education is now one of the key challenges facing the development of technology-based services such as cloud. And that is not education about the technology itself, but how to use it and how to sell it.

Make sure that a potential partner’s channel programme has a strong education component and that you’re not left completely alone. No matter how experienced, there is always opportunity to benefit from knowledge sharing.

A proactive cloud on-boarding process will also help your end customers’ overall cloud adoption and make sure they realise the cost benefits and overall efficiencies.

Can my grandma configure your cloud environment?

Finally, make sure that what is being offered is intuitive.

Some cloud offerings are considered pointlessly over-complicated, even for the most experienced user. Cloud configuration should be simple so that any IT professional can set it up and make changes without any problems. Maybe it’s not quite what grandma would want to configure, but it should still be simple enough that she could with a bit of IT help from you!

Experts featured:

Ralph Varcoe

EMEA Regional Sales Director Channel & Alliances

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