Bringing cloud computing back to earth

Werner Knoblich, general manager EMEA for open source vendor Red Hat considers the implications and opportunities for the channel as cloud computing shakes up traditional computing business models

Tags: Cloud computingOpen sourceRed Hat Incorporation
  • E-Mail
Bringing cloud computing back to earth The cloud model can present a threat to traditional VARs and SIs, says Red Hat’s Knoblich
By  Werner Knoblich Published  March 9, 2011

Werner Knoblich, general manager EMEA for open source vendor Red Hat considers the implications and opportunities for the channel as cloud computing shakes up traditional computing business models.

Recent research from Gartner suggests that by the end of 2012, 20% of organisations will have no IT assets. What are the implications of this on the wider IT ecosystem of ISVs, SIs and OEMs?  Their traditional business model is being challenged as technology infrastructure moves out of the data centre and into the cloud.

What strategic decisions can vendors make to capitalise on the cloud trend?  Who should be part of their new alliance strategy? With every major technology player claiming to have a cloud strategy or offering, how can management teams cut through the noise to decipher the cloud conundrum?

Cloud: the basics

The National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) defines the cloud thus: Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (eg. networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.

In a remarkably short time, cloud computing has emerged as a hugely important evolution in the way that businesses and individuals consume and operate computing. It’s a fundamental shift to an operational model in which applications don’t live out their lives on a specific piece of hardware and in which resources are more flexibly deployed than was the historical norm. It’s also a fundamental shift to a development and consumption model that replaces hard-wired, proprietary connections among software components, and the consumers of those components, with lightweight web services and web-based software access.

For the channel community, using an open source methodology can accelerate cloud adoption by validating key cloud specifications and sharing information to build confidence in cloud computing technology as formalised standards are made available.  Whilst there is no question that the role of the traditional channel will be significantly impacted by the rapidly evolving on-demand services market, there is still plenty of room for innovative channel organisations to operate. There are also plenty of opportunities for new channel partners to succeed.

The burgeoning cloud ecosystem

Traditional value-added resellers (VARs) and systems integrators (SIs) that major on legacy, onsite, and server deployed technology are obviously at risk from the flexibility, cost effectiveness and simplicity of cloud services. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and cloud computing reduce the marginal costs which historically represented the primary profits of traditional VARs and SIs.

With foresight, there are still strategic decisions which VARs and SIs can make to overcome these challenges and capitalise on this revolution in technology procurement and consumption.

Organisations still have a need to asses and select from the myriad of SaaS, PaaS (Platform) and IaaS (Infrastructure) vendors.  There is also a need to integrate existing technology and processes, as well as optimising performance of their incumbent technology and new systems, and training end users.

SIs can adapt their businesses to meet this need. By up-skilling to close the gap between the wide variety of cloud offerings and the needs of specific customers, SIs re-engineer to add value in the cloud channel ecosystem. SIs themselves can also benefit from the cloud as a testing ground for future implementations and as a repository for information.

Extending this concept further, third parties can build their own technology on PaaS offerings, accessing fully developed and advanced platforms for the creation of customer or industry specific offerings.

Finally, for a reseller, the cloud ecosystem simply offers a new market, and pent up demand, on which they can capitalise. As cloud offering move into majority, vendors recognise the need to build a solid reseller channel to survive.  The investment needed to maintain momentum through a direct sales and support function can be offloaded to the reseller, regaining focus on the technology asset.  For the reseller this provides a perfect opportunity to partner with cloud providers that pass on added value to their end customers. In contrast to legacy technology, resellers can move into the cloud market without having to learn the intricacies of development or maintenance.

ISVs & developers

For ISVs and developers looking to move technology into the cloud, a major consideration is the ability to develop applications that can be scaled and developed within the context of a cloud infrastructure. Route to market and quality of deployment are all at the heart of successful development, therefore any cloud partner must provide the tools and infrastructure to on-ramp quickly within a framework that ensures that software can be developed once and then rolled out across environments from the data centre to the cloud. Finally, any technology partner should eliminate barriers to cloud development, providing the tools to develop on any platform.

Cloud providers

For those organisations that are looking to build public cloud deployments, a series of factors will contribute to their success. Firstly, the technology to create layers of the cloud stack, whether that be Infrastructure or Platform-as-a-Service.  Secondly, the flavour of cloud being developed and the consistency of technology between the enterprise and the cloud. Thirdly, developers also need the certainty of support to ensure peace of mind for end users.

Through the Certified Cloud Provider Program, Red Hat established the industry’s first program to certify that vendors have validated cloud capabilities and support processes that provide rapid problem resolution.

Red Hat has expanded the program to include new partners IBM, NTT Communications and Savvis, and introduced new benefits, including cloud specific offerings and pricing and innovative management and updating services. Red Hat announced the establishment of the Red Hat Certified Cloud Provider Program in June 2009, along with its first member, Amazon Web Services.

In conclusion, there is no doubt that the cloud is changing the channel environment and the very nature of how various players interact, however with an open mind, flexibility and new alignments, the channel can thrive in this new ecosystem.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code