One direction

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17 June 2014 | 0

For many resellers, managed services have become almost mandatory if they want to survive into the future. But how do they ensure they are well-placed to provide a portfolio of services that reflect the needs of their customers at a time when the growth in cloud computing is likely to have a significant effect on their provision of services? We asked a number of resellers and distributors for their views on the opportunities presented by services in 2014.

Martin Cullen, director SMS&P, Microsoft Ireland, says that Microsoft is faced with multiple service requirements from customers. Along with the public cloud services provided by Microsoft, customers also have requirements within their environment on a private cloud basis. Partners have the ability to “aggregate those two worlds and pull together a managed service proposition that encompasses both”, he argues.

“Customers still really want to work through their partners,” Cullen believes, to manage the initial public cloud service and recognise the other components that they need to work through and fix. It might involve taking on the help desk, for example, and acting “as interface between the customer and us on first and second level support”.

Coping skills
Services are coming at customers from different angles, he argues, and they “can’t cope with all the offerings coming at them from different cloud providers. Partners can aggregate them. To materialise their gains on the cost effectiveness side, customers may relinquish responsibilities to the partner but the partner has to create a packaged model to reflect the needs of what can be done on the cloud”.

Essentially, it’s about aggregating the old and new, pulling it together and wrapping it into a service model. “The challenge for the partner is understanding what that is,” he says and getting to grips with a service engagement model that allows customers to move to the OPEX model as opposed to the CAPEX one.

A number of Microsoft partners been engaging in this direction, Cullen reveals, but it’s not a one size fits all proposition: “You need to have a view of every customer to establish what stays private cloud and what goes public cloud.” It’s not easy but some partners have achieved a lot of it and others are working towards achieving it. Nevertheless, “the market is under serviced at this point”, he adds.

Microsoft is working with partners to educate them on some aspects of what customers are thinking and the process is also working the other way around. “Everybody is learning a little bit as they go,” he says. “We accept the model is changing but how the hell do we optimise that model to give customers what they need?”

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