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Building a Cloud Practice: Success Stories from the Front Lines : Page 2 of 3

Three channel pros with successful cloud practices explain how they got into cloud services and the keys to their success. By Samuel Greengard

Computer Solutions East Drifts into the Cloud
“Channel pros and VARs have been thinking about clouds for the last few years,” observes Rao at Computer Solutions East, which serves the Tri-State area of Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York. “The problem is that many channel firms are only beginning to recognize the power of cloud services, and what role they will play in business in the coming years.” Clinging to an existing IT sales model is a risky proposition, he adds. “We are seeing a greater emphasis on the cloud all the time. It’s an important part of today’s global business environment.”

Rao believes that channel pros must adjust their thinking about today’s business and IT environment, including growing digital convergence. Mobility, social business, big data and analytics, and a variety of other tools, solutions, and technologies increasingly intersect in the cloud. “The cloud is becoming a strategic tool that helps organizations operate far more efficiently and manage resources in a more flexible and agile way,” says Rao. “It facilitates the sharing of resources across vast geographic areas.”

Computer Solutions East has opted to focus on a number of key areas within the cloud. These include: Microsoft Azure, Office 365, Exchange, SharePoint Online, Lync Online, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The firm is also adopting cloud-based backup and restore services and has partnerships with Cisco and Symantec. “We started with cloud computing in the days of Microsoft FrontBridge,” Rao says. “At the time, it was difficult, expensive, and it really didn’t make financial sense. But it was a solution we could offer customers, and we realized that we could still make money on these types of services.”

The company established a dedicated team to sell, implement, and support cloud-based solutions. It established a tight partnership with Microsoft and began looking for ways to educate its clients about the pros and cons of the cloud as a strategic resource. The firm then began to focus on building internal expertise and knowledge so that it could provide strategic consulting services. Today, “All of our staff in sales and support is certified. We work closely with Microsoft to maintain the level of knowledge that is necessary to support these solutions.”

Rao says that the company places a premium on the vendors it selects. “It is important to conduct due diligence and make sure the vendor has a strong support framework.” But it’s also important to choose the right mix of vendors to support vertical market segments and build a base of knowledge and skills around these verticals. “That way, you’re able to leverage your internal expertise and replicate solutions from one customer to the next,” explains Rao. “You’re able to operate more efficiently and cost effectively, and scale more easily.” The end goal, he says, is to build a framework of support for customers. “Obviously, on-premises hardware and software are not completely going away. So, it’s all about finding the right combination of solutions and staying current with them.”

About the Author

Samuel Greengard's picture

Samuel Greengard, a business and technology writer in West Linn, Ore., is the author of The Internet of Things (MIT Press, 2015) and Virtual Reality (MIT Press, 2019).


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