2013 will see the beginning of a new breed of cloud-centric channels

David Parker, VP Enterprise at Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, looks at the challenges for existing channels, the new opportunities which are arising in the mid-market and in deploying cloud technology, and what part vendors need to play in this transition.
Alcatel-Lucent has been here before. We have been at the crossroads of change as voice and data converged, and now as mobile employees with their BYOD demands put huge demand on infrastructure, we’re dealing with change in a whole series of directions. Along comes UC and the need for Application Fluent Networks; then we have larger and larger data centres becoming more and more virtualised – requiring 10 Gig and even 40 Gig switches; the data centre fabric now needs layers of services; there is the demand from consumers for an agnostic approach to delivery to get best of breed; and what about video – is that finally going to come of age in 2013? And then there is cloud.

We as a supplier are obviously supporting our channel with all these developments. We even have a new strategy to support Software Defined Networking coming in 2013 to bring to smaller data centres the sort of services that have only been available to the likes of the massive Google machine.

But what I think is key for 2013 is how these developments are going to impact channel business strategies, not just for 2013 but on an ongoing basis. I see three distinct options, two feeding off the traditional model, but one spawning, I believe, a raft of new opportunities – not just for the existing channel but for new systems integrators to exploit opportunities that new trends and service delivery models are offering.

Go to market with traditional channel model – Best of Breed delivery and attractive financing will help SMB prospects in their hunt for capital.

First, the opportunities for the traditional channel market supply will of course continue. There will continue to be on-premises equipment being deployed and our existing channel is well able to service this market. Channel success will be driven by partners being able to offer integrated mobile and social networking services into an integrated infrastructure solution.
This market is moving to enable BYOD and this can be done by channel supplying Best of Breed models even more cost effectively. Our OpenTouch solution has been developed to support just this requirement. And as the market need for capital continues, those able to offer attractive finance options such as the 0% finance arrangements we have with BNP Paribas will see this traditional market continue to grow.

Second – the march of the cloud delivery model

We see an increase in Data Centres built with all of the UC, Application Fluent Network (AFN) and virtualised service options – and next year we hope with Software Defined Networks. These advanced data centres will either support large enterprises (private cloud), or allow smaller enterprises to purchase or rent facilities for their own cloud delivery (public cloud). Again, our OpenTouch solution has been developed specifically to form the communications backbone for these cloud-based applications by offering anywhere anytime any device services to any size of businesses – large and small.

Third – 2013 will see a new breed of channel delivering services rather than products

This development will also enable a new breed of system integrators in a new and emerging market to sell cloud services to companies, extending through to SMBs and indeed sometimes offering specialised services for larger companies in SaaS, IaaS or PaaS delivery models.

2013 will not just see a move by the established channel to support clients moving into the cloud, but also the growth of a new breed of cloud-centric operations set up specifically to exploit the advantages of Opex service delivery.

It’s not that cloud will come, it’s that cloud will change the channel. Ovum anticipates that in 2013 the cloud computing debate will increasingly shift towards the way in which cloud computing can enable new business models and supply chains. So as cloud begins to develop from a sketchy marketing strategy into a real business proposition, the channel needs to embrace the opportunity to deliver a new go-to-market strategy, something which our Personal Cloud vision certainly aligns with.

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