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Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.


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News & Articles

April 14, 2013 |

Partners Request How-to Advice on Cloud Computing at SMB Forum

Having reluctantly accepted the inevitable, attendees at a recent ChannelPro conference sought practical guidance on offering cloud services profitably.

Channel pros may not like cloud computing, but they’re reluctantly learning to live with it. So it appears, at least, based on exchanges between panelists and audience members during a session about readying your IT business for the cloud at the latest ChannelPro SMB Forum, held April 10th in Long Beach, Calif.

Though attendees voiced plenty of reservations about cloud computing, an overwhelming majority of them raised their hands when asked whether they currently provide at least one cloud-based solution, suggesting that even cloud skeptics have begun grudgingly bowing to the cloud’s inevitable triumph.

Good thing, too, because according to panelist Dave Seibert, cloud solutions are gaining momentum fast among SMBs. “It’s picking up at an incredible pace,” said Seibert, who is CEO/CIO of IT Innovators Inc., an integrator and managed service provider in Irvine, Calif. A figure cited by session moderator and ChannelPro executive editor Cecilia Galvin underscored Seibert’s point: Spending on cloud solutions by SMBs worldwide will grow 22 percent in 2013, according to analyst firm Techaisle LLC.

“Customers are pretty tired of buying servers,” said Ro Kolakowski, a panel member and founder of Redondo Beach, Calif.-based MSP and cloud reseller 6th Street Consulting.

Though they’re slowly accepting the why-to of offering cloud-based solutions, however, many channel pros still need help with the how-to of choosing which to offer. Author, blogger, and consultant Karl Palachuk pointed to the “five-pack” developed by America’s Tech Support, an MSP and cloud service provider in Sacramento, Calif., that’s run by his brother, as a useful example. Sold five seats at a time at standardized prices, the five-pack includes hosted email, spam filtering, and anti-virus solutions, as well as 250 GB of cloud-based storage and remote monitoring and management services. In reality, however, most of the actual administration is performed by software-as-a-service vendors.

“This is hugely profitable,” Palachuk stated.

According to Seibert, IT Innovators sells packaged cloud offerings as well and has recorded similarly impressive results. “There’s incredible margins in cloud services,” he said, provided you bundle them together.

Cloud solutions can also be an entry point to more lucrative consulting engagements, Kolakowski noted. Margins may be thin on Microsoft Office 365, he conceded, but selling it has helped his company set the foundation for profitable long-term client relationships. “Office 365 for us is a crowbar to be able to get through the door,” Kolakowski said.

Not surprisingly, session attendees had plenty of questions about the cloud’s potential drawbacks, such as uncertain reliability. Quoting author Nicholas Carr, Palachuk observed that the reliability of electrical utilities isn’t 100 percent either, but that doesn’t stop people from using electricity. “Most of these services, if you pick them right, [are] extremely stable,” he said.

Concerns about downloading large amounts of data over the Web shouldn’t discourage channel pros from recommending cloud solutions to their clients either, Kolakowski added, as you can always store especially big files locally on an on-premises server and keep everything else off-site. “It’s not an all or nothing proposition,” he said.

But it is a winning one, according to Palachuk. Before long, cloud computing won’t be a brash newcomer to the world of IT anymore, he asserted. “It’s just going to be a standard way of doing business.” The sooner channel partners embrace that fact the better for them and their clients.

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