CRN roundtable: SMBs in the cloud

CRN heard from experienced technology experts on the trend presenting new and exciting opportunities for the channel.

By on Dec 7, 2011
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We invited a handful of Australia's technology executives to discuss why the cloud is no mere fad. What emerged was a fascinating discussion about the opportunities, challenges and dangers facing small businesses as they migrate to the big new world of shared IT.
Express Data's cloud manager Stephanie Browne kicked off sharing what was discussed at the company's national cloud roadshow for its SMB partners. She highlighted key challenges in whether to partner, resell or invest in a data centre, as well as the transition to the cloud.
Geoff Olds, TechFlare: "The cashflow side is a massive challenge. I think at the top end it's very clear, but there's still a lot of grey areas that we have to untangle for owners, directors and CEOs who are in a holding pattern."
Tony Heywood, Westcon:"One of the most important ratios in a reseller is billable utilisation. Engineers sitting on a bench un-utilised is a dead cost to business. Cloud services offer the ability for the reseller to move away from the products to a services-based environment, and cloud enables you to build environments for customers which vendors would otherwise take control of."
We asked attendees if they had found high growth companies were more suited to a cloud model. We were met with a resounding 'no'. John Donovan, VMware: "I think small, medium and large enterprises are quite used to an operational expense model rather than capital expense model. In terms of who's actually adopting it, the fastest in the market has been SMB."
Jason Ashton, Big Air: "A lot of our partners are using us in combination with a fixed network, so where they're deploying a cloud-based application for an end-user, they'll actually insist on there being diverse connections to the office. That will ensure there's always a way for the end users to access their applications."
Roy Pater, Infraserve: "Cloud is not about how the SMB wants cloud, or why. They don't really know what cloud is, but what they do know is that it takes 'all that infrastructure stuff off my hands'".
Robert Sherry of IBM believes there will still be a role for the channel in the new landscape. "The vendors need the reseller and channel firms to extract the value of that business application and that service, and annuity income is only as good as it lasts."
Telstra's Simeon Joyce shared similar sentiments. "We went to market two years ago with Office 365 in a former form, and we've since seen over 850 partners sign up with us to sell that solution".
Distribution Central's Nick Verykios told attendees his company had gotten 'lost in the cloud' early on. He said there is a myth that once you're using cloud services, you don't need anything more. "You goddamn do. The cloud is not 'instead of', it's 'as well as'. This is what people really lose sight of."
Tony Ignatavicius of Synnex spoke more widely of the need for cloud standards and regulation. "We’re putting data, company applications and company performance, into a third party environment, almost with no control. There is no current regulation or standards based approach to providing a cloud solution."
The line up: Nick Verykios, Distribution Central; Geoff Olds, TechFlare; John Donovan, VMware; Simeon Joyce, Telstra; Robert Sherry, IBM; Jason Ashton, Big Air; Tony Ignatavicius, Synnex; Roy Pater, Infraserve; Tony Heywood, Westcon; Stephanie Browne, Express Data.

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