Forecast Cloud or a risk of FOG in the Channel!

Posted on October 11, 2010

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Knowing what is reality and what is hype is fundamental, and with the Cloud Computing Marketing and Sales bandwagon well on a roll then its heads up or don’t say you were not warned if you get knocked down.

Channel Partners/resellers and customers alike are well advised to maintain scepticism when engaging Vendors till the ‘Fog’ clears and to speak up loud and clear putting vendors straight if all they feel is they are simply cranking up their Fog Horns and selling mutton as lamb!

Legacy designed applications are not designed for the multi-tenancy delivery models of the Cloud. Honesty from Vendors as to lifecycle evolution is critical so the reseller channel can prepare itself and the customers for a positive experience all round. Virtualisation of a legacy system is not the answer, a stop gap at the most, but be clear what it really is NOT CLOUD it is obfuscation – FOG!

For one thing is certain, Cloud computing is going to change ALL companies beyond all recognition and starting to drive this inevitable change under false pretences is a disaster waiting to happen and a trust relationship breached forever.

One can sympathise with a Vendor who has committed their Capital capacity to a long term on-premise software solution model.

Channel‘s vary and the relationships are different across the industry, and so will the approaches in terms of openness between Vendors and their agents, and what gets through to the ultimate customer. Just look at the unique Microsoft partner Channel, where Microsoft generate over 95% of their revenues from their Channel compared with say IBM and Oracle amongst others who compete directly with their channel, and many permutations in-between.

This calls for a new age of trust and for existing trust relationships with customers to be handled with delicacy. Where many customers will be prepared to go on good faith with established trusted agents into the new world of Cloud Computing, that trust will not be transitive for long if not fully respected by the supply chain. Once lost it will be too late to do much about it. The options for customers are wide and varied and the ability to vet these just a click away with the Internet, as if customers don’t have enough salesman beating their doors to choose from already.

The trouble is many Vendors and their channels are unaware of the thin ice they will be skating on. They enter the world of Cloud Computing as if it is just another re-branding exercise for their products and services. They do so at their peril, but this minefield is not signposted and the pasture is rich and all too tempting.

This could be considered as a catalyst and objective of Education and Awareness. Whilst uncertainty is unquestionably abounds for organisations both servicing and consuming in the Cloud, it is in fact the two pillars of Security – Risk and Trust – that are at the heart of the issue.

Risk – Few organisations actually have a clear idea of what their risk tolerances are. Ask any Business manager and then compare his answer with that of the supporting IT department. In my experience these sit poles apart and represent a principle hurdle to business adopting cloud, as

Trust – That which lies at the core of client retention repeat sales and product commitment, a trust in a relationship and or quality deliverable.

And this is just the beginning of the lesson for many as Businesses wrestle with not just the disruptive change from the technology commoditisation embodied in Cloud Computing but how reaches into all corners of their value offerings and supply chains.

At this juncture I would like to be referencing mature training programs and professional institutes of good standing as Trustmark’s to light the way……. I believe that we are truly into new territory with this, and whilst there are some fledgling initiatives in the pipeline they are starved of funding. It would not be the first time early advocates of a need are held in suspicion by the unaware. This time however the subject matter is moving according to Internet time, and that is likely to mean that by the time structured training is available damage will have been incurred in the market.

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