With no hardware to buy and install on-site, and services literally just a click away, many channel players are at a loss to figure out how to make money in a cloud world. IT industry association CompTIA has devised a cloud business model from the perspective of the channel that is organized along the following four categories and associated activities:
Build: Involves procuring hardware and software and contributing expertise to build private or hybrid clouds. Consulting services around architecture, design, and configuration are often included.
Provide/provision: Activities include reselling and white-labeling offerings such as storage, compute capacity, and cloud-based applications. Evaluating and aggregating various cloud services for customers also falls into this category.
Enable/integrate: In this category, channel partners embark on more value-added types of tasks including deployment, integration, customization, and development work. Often integration and implementation services involve linking on-premises and cloud-based solutions, as well as customizing cloud-based solutions for specific needs.
Manage/support: These services include break/fix, troubleshooting, and scaling kinds of tasks as well as ongoing managed services. Often these activities are done in a recurring revenue model.
According to a recent CompTIA cloud computing study, 64 percent of channel partners that provide cloud services in all categories first forayed into the cloud market by offering build services. Among channel partners with established cloud businesses today, manage/support services are the most prevalent offerings.