In light of the 2018 CONTEXT ChannelWatch report, which revealed that 55% of resellers surveyed had not sold any cloud services in the preceding six months – a higher percentage than in 2017, Managed IT sister publication Technology Reseller asked vendors and resellers for their experiences of the cloud. Their comments make interesting reading for end users too. Here, Tim Mercer, CEO of Vapour Cloud explains, amongst other things, what businesses should look for from a cloud provider
Q: What difficulties did you encounter/are you encountering in selling cloud services and growing your cloud business?
Tim Mercer (TM): For me, it’s an education process, both for clients and providers.
As providers, we should be giving the correct advice, not the advice to get a sale. Unfortunately, there are some resellers who focus purely on targets, knowing they’re proposing something that might not be best fit for the client. For clients, cloud is one part of the digital transformation journey, and it’s important they look for a provider who can manage a full end-to-end solution.
There are two distinctions in cloud services – data and voice.
Moving and storing data in the cloud has been possible for a lot longer and is more mainstream, although it is not without its issues. Much depends on the application being run and where that best fits the business that is using it.
For example, if you are a housing developer/architect using large files, then having those in a cloud solution with limited bandwidth into the business is going to cause problems. This is a scenario where it MAY be better to sit on-premise with a back-up service in a cloud environment. In other words, there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution.
The whole solution must be considered, including: internet bandwidth; the applications being delivered; the number of other applications being used and where these applications reside; the number of users; and whether there is a back-up network service, if you are moving to the cloud.
Voice is a different animal. It is time sensitive, so the network, security policies, firewalls, back-up service and LAN environment have to be voice-ready. Otherwise, there are likely to be issues.
What we do see is that if this service is implemented correctly there are many positives, including mobile working/working from home, mobile app calling, resiliency and flexibility of users. Growing or reducing headcount is simple and the fixed/guaranteed charge to the business (which run the cost as an Opex) is a help to most.
Our cloud voice business has exploded over the last 12 months. As manufacturers have all moved to a cloud-only model, providers with experience are being sought – clients don’t want to take a punt. Luckily, we’ve been cloud-first since we were founded in 2013. Arguably, we came to the market a little too quickly, but it’s paying dividends now.
On the cloud data side, the business is growing steadily, month on month. Our partners are looking for automation of simple services, while also seeking a fully managed service in a hybrid model. A typical request is: How do we move these applications and services to the cloud while keeping these servers on site? Can you help ‘lift and shift’ and support all services?
Q: What has your experience of selling cloud services taught you and what advice would you give to other businesses thinking of going down this route?
TM: Clients need to work with a provider that has experience and understanding of all the technologies or fantastic partnerships that enable it to deliver the services required.
They should be looking for Proof of Concepts, taking into account previous case studies, and looking at partners that are working on future-proofing their business with next-generation technologies.
Providers should be showcasing new technologies to their clients and be clear on future roadmaps that can help them move forwards – how can AI help them; what about video; how will mobile working impact their business; how will they deliver applications to team members working from home?
BYOD and security policies need to be thought about before the move is signed off at board level –simple elements that are sometimes overlooked.
Q: Could vendors and distributors do more to help resellers sell cloud service and, if so, what?
TM: In the world of data and hardware sales, there should be a more proactive solution with network providers, which is why we are working hard with Dell/EMC on a solution for our partners that includes the hardware, software and network sale, all managed as described in Q1.
There are also considerations to make surrounding how we pay salespeople selling the service. Unless salespeople are commissioned differently, they will always sell the product most likely to earn them more commission.
This goes back to the education piece I mentioned at the start and the need to focus on what’s best for the client. In essence, we should be working harder with both vendors and distributors to deliver the right solution, with a focus on outcomes.
To deliver that right solution to any business you must first understand what they want, when and why they need to change. We have a role to advise on whether the change is right and/or which piece of the jigsaw needs completing first.
Vapour Cloud is a cloud-first digital transformation specialist delivering secure voice, network and storage solutions. Find out more at www.vapourcloud.com