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Finding the perfect partner

Dante Orsini outlines eight factors channel partners should consider when choosing a cloud provider

There is no doubt that Cloud will continue to be at the top of the IT agenda in 2018. Channel companies, from managed service providers to resellers to agents, are increasingly recognising the huge opportunities that exist in cloud hosting, cloud-based Disaster Recovery (DR) and cloud backup. No matter what role you play in the channel, matching your capabilities with a cloud service provider that can help you take advantage of these opportunities will be key to growth from cloud services in 2018.

Based on our experience at iland, channel organisations have very diverse requirements and desired levels of investment when embarking on a cloud services strategy.

For some, it is about earning recurring commissions with minimal involvement in the end-to-end sales and support process. Others want to retain billing relationships but have assistance from the cloud provider in the sales and support process. Others, like Managed Service Providers (MSPs), want to retain responsibility for the end customer relationship, which includes billing, account management and support, and be able to add their own managed services offerings around the cloud service.

Regardless of their particular go-to-market strategy, there are some key attributes and offerings channel organisations should look for from a cloud service provider (CSP), over and above its ability to support their desired strategy and deliver the security, scalability and cost-effective cloud services that their customers demand.

1 Tenure in the industry
How long has the cloud provider been in the industry? What is its level of expertise? With cloud computing now more than a decade old, cloud providers that have been around for that long have gained priceless experience that you can pass on to your customers. You will also want to look into the cloud provider’s history of customer service and the rate of customer satisfaction, as described by leading analyst firms.

2 Breadth of offering
What can the cloud service provider offer that will truly enhance your product portfolio? The demand for cloud-based backup and DR solutions is huge and growing quickly and many channel organisations can benefit from partnering with CSPs that are leaders in this space. An important consideration for Managed Service Providers is whether the CSP enables you to monitor and manage all of your customers’ cloud services, including Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and cloud backup? Ideally, the offering should include management features across billing, performance, security, compliance, testing and reporting to enable you to drive additional revenue from value-added services.

3 Diverse footprint
Depending on your customer base and growth ambitions, you may need to team up with a cloud provider that has a national, perhaps even a global, footprint. As more and more prioritise data sovereignty across borders when making cloud buying decisions, it’s important to partner with a cloud provider that can support this with a global data centre footprint. Ensure the cloud provider can host the workloads of your customers and provide backup and DR facilities in the necessary locations.

4 Performance and scalability
Service levels are essential for achieving and maintaining success. A cloud service provider must have in place clear service level agreements that will help you to acquire customers and keep them happy. It is advisable to examine past performance and uptime. Think, too, about the implementation time frame and how important that is to you and your customers. A simple, efficient on-boarding process is needed for short sales cycles. In addition, determine whether the cloud provider will allow you to scale your services to support your needs.

5 Security and compliance
No matter who you target, cloud security and compliance considerations will top their list of priorities. It is essential to have a partner who can help you meet your compliance requirements as well as those of your customers. Is security included or is it an add-on? To help channel partners respond to an environment of increased risk from cyber-attacks, ransomware and other threats, the cloud provider should natively integrate advanced security features into its cloud platform. It should also be fully certified and compliant with industry regulations and enable you to prove that to your customers.

6 Support lifecycle
Determine what levels of support your customer base requires and ensure that your CSP can help you deliver that. Determine where the support team is located and whether they can outline a support plan for you. Ultimately, you should have confidence that your CSP will be a true partner to you and be able to provide support across the customer lifecycle, from sales to implementation to ongoing operations.

7 Pricing and term flexibility
Is the pricing model straightforward and can pricing be customised? With an increased focus on cloud cost effectiveness, you need to ensure you can offer customers cost-effective options that won’t lock them in to paying for cloud resources they won’t use. Determine if your cloud service provider is agile enough to offer pricing structures that suit diverse needs.

8 Channel friendly
Different cloud providers value and invest in their channel differently. Does the cloud provider have experience with channel partners, and if so, do they have good relationships with their channel partners? The provider should not compete with their channel partners in professional or managed services. This will protect your revenue opportunities.

As a global leader in cloud-based disaster recovery and backup solutions, along with cloud hosting, iland delivers a channel program that enables channel organisations to quickly establish a profitable cloud services revenue stream. With customised models that deliver a collaborative route to market for resellers, MSPs and agents, we’re helping our channel partners deliver customer value and grow their businesses in new ways.

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