96 percent of resellers now offer some form of IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS) to their customers to a greater or lesser degree, according to global research. This includes managing customer assets on-premises, off-premises hosting or public cloud services.
The potential is massive, however the barriers to entry for a small systems integrator or reseller are huge if they hope to offer the entire service themselves. Most suppliers will find it easier and more practical – at least initially – to use an established cloud provider and resell the service to their customers. This is great news for cloud service providers looking to increase revenue from new lines of business.
However, if a third party service provider should prove unsuitable, have a technical issue or fail to meet the user’s expectations, it is the “messenger” i.e. the reseller that will often get the blame. Before a channel partner engages with a cloud service provider it is worth asking some hard questions, demanding answers, and in some cases, testing the marketing messages with real world investigation.
1. Can the reseller support you as far as you can see?
You might have a complex selling scenario – are you selling direct or reselling cloud services that you are purchasing. Your cloud provider needs to support you in each layer through easy provisioning, white labeling requirements and metering and billing.
You also want your cloud provider to offer delegated control, management and monitoring throughout the entire chain – from business units or individual parts of a large organization. This involves using a cloud management solution to solve complex scenario selling.
2. Let’s talk money!
The cost of any service is of course a key consideration, but understanding real pricing is not as straightforward as it seems. A transparent pricing structure can often be the best way to avoid awkward sticking points when it comes to final contract negotiations.
To turn a profit, partners need to be able to add a margin so it is vital to ensure your service provider gives you the tools to meter and bill according to your business needs. This allows the partner to stay in control of the customer relationship and that way you can continue to add value by monitoring usage and making relevant recommendations.
Think about what geographies you want to support and see if your service provider offers multi-language support, language based on the end-user or support for multi-currency billing.
Lastly, check that the cost of the service also is reflected by a credible SLA.
3. Can you add your own value on top?
Partners evaluating a potential cloud provider should ask for a demonstration of its cloud management interface to see if adding value on top is possible. You want the tools to easily extend the existing cloud services so you can create lasting and on-going relationships with your customers.
Think about additional services you want to add, for example, pre-packaged, configured and sophisticated infrastructure blueprints? Or integrated technology so that you can offer more services on top of the cloud like BI/analytics tools, ISV apps, other *aaS solutions and more.
There are other things you should look for your cloud service provider to offer. At the heart should be an easily customizable cloud management solution. Have a read of our The 10 “Must Haves” Needed to Support a Cloud Reseller Channel for more information on what we think cloud service providers need to manage resellers.