Cloud computing hubs increasingly becoming data-centric

Laurent Lachal/Ovum
21 Nov 2012

From the start Ovum has emphasized that cloud computing platforms are not just technology delivery platforms but are also business platforms.

We have stressed that they need to deliver ecosystem services consisting of marketplace services, business services (for vendors in the marketplace to manage their customers, send bills, and get paid) and community services (for customers to provide reviews and feedback on a vendor and its partners’ services, for all sides to interact with one another via forum, wikis etc.).

History is proving us right: cloud computing ecosystem services are becoming increasingly important as cloud service providers increasingly compete not just via the services they offer but also via the ecosystem they have managed to build around them. Many do not realize it yet but ecosystem services are already more important for the long-term success of a cloud computing offering than technology services.

The cloud computing middleman is not dead; quite the contrary. When it first emerged, cloud computing led many to believe that it would be the death of the middleman, as many cloud service providers went directly to the customer. Nothing can be further from the truth. The middleman is not dead. In fact, he will play an increasing role in the building of an increasingly sophisticated cloud ecosystem, with public as well as private cloud service providers endeavoring to expand the channel ecosystem to grab market share.

Under the “cloud service broker” banner many industry analysts are hyping up the “return of the middleman” scenario to an extent that is rather bemusing. However, it is true that large vendors are all busy pushing and pulling their indirect channel network partners (such as managed service providers, value-added resellers, and independent software vendors) into the brave new world of cloud computing via a variety of programs and incentives, as well as training and certification initiatives.

Large distributors are muscling in, with Ingram Micro, Tech Data, and Synnex in the US as well as Computerlinks in the UK launching in the past 18 months new organizations and programs to enable their reseller network to enter the cloud computing market. Their efforts are paying off. A November 2011 survey of 112 UK Computerlinks resellers found that 49% had a cloud computing offering. A mid-2012 Ingram Micro survey of 1,000 channel partners found that 61% marketed between two and four cloud services (and 24% more than five).

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