But Verykios, in co-founding a $250 million distribution business, believes there’s a problem. “If you think as an end customer that you can solve your customer problem by borrowing technology, which is what the cloud metaphor implies, then you’re not solving your own problem and you’re actually in real trouble.”
As Distribution Central prepares to launch its own cloud play, Verykios sees cloud as another weapon in the armoury and another way of delivering to the market but vitally, in an era of hyperbole, it provides another option, not necessarily the option, to solving a customer problem.
“We believe there are three alternative pathways to market,” he explained, “and the reseller’s job is to work out which of those pathways is the best way to solve that customer problem and my job as the distributor is to provide what we think is the best pathway to solve this problem.”
Across the fence in the world of the reseller, and notably for Kiwi IT company Datacom, when seeking for cloud clarity there still remains “a lot of confusion” amongst Chief Information Officers in particular around how to maximise the cloud, as both individual and organisational opinion vary around the topic and its defining purpose within the market.
“At Datacom we see ourselves as more of cloud solutions integrator,” added Mark Hardie, Senior General Manager, Datacom. “We’re spending a lot of time consulting with our customers in terms of customer needs as we are a big application organisation which provides a lot of infrastructure in New Zealand.
“Across the country we’ve got data centres and our own cloud platform so we can offer customers an onshore platform as well as a public offering. At present every customer conversation involves a hybrid discussion.”
A sentiment shared by Deidre Steyn, General Manager A/NZ, ICONZ-Webvisions, a Kiwi hosting and Internet Service Provider, who also cites significant uptake and interest in hybrid models nationwide, as organisations seek more control in the cloud world.
“We’re a traditional infrastructure company who originally tried to provide everything for everybody but in the three and a half years since I’ve been on board we’ve consolidated our cloud offerings,” Steyn explained.
Speaking as a key industry player within the New Zealand cloud market, Steyn believes cloud growth across the country has stemmed from “businesses taking a small cloud, using it and growing from there.”
“We found that it was an entrant to market,” she added. “In the last year we have definitely seen a shift towards more private and hybrid cloud sales as customers become much more in control but the downside for us is that everybody now sells cloud, whether that be the distributors, the end-users or whoever, everybody is selling cloud.”
Weighing in as a fellow market leader in the cloud computing space, Steve Victor, National Sales Manager, OneNet says the company’s “entire business is built around the cloud”, hosting a wide range of software applications and data for clients.
“If I was to describe cloud to my sons or my parents,” Victor observed, “I would tell them that OneNet takes your software and data off your computers and servers, and securely delivers it back to you over the Internet to your computer or tablet in a similar view to what you experienced prior to giving it to OneNet on your desktop computer.”
A simplified approach in theory, but for Victor, what makes the process more effective than a mere transfer of applications and data is that OneNet maintains the environment including monitoring, patching and backups, all for a per user per month fee.
Providing a contrasting view from operating in a “reasonably unique” position in the Kiwi market as a specialist enterprise integrator, Open Systems Specialists, echoed the previous comments of Verykios, viewing cloud as “another tool in the toolbox”, a toolbox now brimming with hardware, software and cloud offerings.
“Cloud is not the be all and end all for us,” admitted Michael Lamont, Account Manager, Open Systems Specialists, responsible for managing a portfolio of key accounts ranging from small to medium businesses through to large multinationals.
“We’re still seeing strong growth in hardware and software and as a smaller specialist integrator we were never going to build our own cloud offering, financially it didn’t make sense.”
Lamont reports that cloud uptake hasn’t been staggering for the company, and while it’s certainly an option and relevant for certain scenarios and business needs, at present, OSS “is not seeing a whole lot of movement into the cloud.”
But as explained by Verykios, when defining cloud, shouldn’t the real question be; “What’s the best way to solve that problem? It doesn’t matter whether you’re cloud or on-premise, local or overseas, isn’t that always going to win?”
Irrespective of definition however, cloud computing is a disruptive force across the industry, generating both opportunities and challenges within the channel as the market digests a new approach to business.
At the heart of the change are of course the distributors, but spotlight also shines elsewhere, with opinions varied on how best to position the reseller in the market to ensure they remain competitive in their rapidly-changing high tech market.
So what does this mean for value added resellers operating in traditional IT channel markets? It is a fair assessment of the market for certain distributors to offer ultimatums such as adapt or die?
Or is the market missing the point, and as distributors develop cloud-based programs and launch them into the market, is that the real threat for resellers?