EXCLUSIVE: The Hybrid Cloud war will be fought and won in the channel
The role of the channel in the cloud era is becoming clearer, and as it becomes more evident, vendors need to rely more heavily on their partners to get their solutions to market. Unfortunately, some vendors are still battling their channel in the sales trenches with one foot in their channel and another in a direct sales model.
The bottom line is that while a vendor’s technology is a critical part of an overall cloud strategy, the full and actual value of the hybrid cloud can only be realised by customers through channel partners.
This extends past the adage of value-add and services. Why? Because the very hybridity of the hybrid cloud implies that you are connecting multiple resources, workflows, clouds, and infrastructures – something that partners are the only ones capable of.
A very big picture
The channel conversation is critical if a vendor wants to scale the delivery of solutions into new markets or showcase new solutions portfolios and added benefits of their portfolio. It is more than a “me me" conversation because it is ultimately packaged as a workable solution for the client instead of just a payday for the technology.
Why is the hybrid cloud a big picture conversation? Bringing hybrid multi-cloud functionality to life includes combining operations management, automation, self-service capabilities, and governance beyond infrastructure.
Sure, we can bake all these components into the core HCI infrastructure a client purchases. But because we have multiple partnerships and understand that customers often have a bespoke solution for one of these components – we rely on our channel to help direct the sales efforts to the client.
The channel is often an extension of the customer. So while they are pitching core technologies like hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI), especially in Africa, where cloud adoption has been a little slower, they are, in essence, helping a customer modernise their environment and be ready for future cloud adoption.
This puts them in a position to pivot the conversation from simple modernisation to hybrid multi-cloud adoption.
Joint sales plays
As we roll out sales plays around hybrid cloud infrastructure, hybrid cloud management, unified storage, and database solutions, we have seen that our partners are the ultimate weapon to scale that conversation in Africa.
Could we take this direct? Sure. Will we ever take it direct? Never. Our DNA is a channel one, and we conduct business 100% through the channel. If we were to ever flirt with the notion of going direct, it would be a little like cutting our heads off before we march into battle. In essence, removing our ability to think beyond our offerings and our need to see what the client needs.
And therein lies the lesson. As we see players erode the business of their channel, we are starting to witness a surge in interest in alternative solutions (like our own).
Fostering strategic relationships with your channel, delivering globally-centric but locally relevant sales and distribution programmes for value-added resellers (VARs), distributors, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), global system integrators (GSIs), and Telco/XSP partners is central to delivering on the promise of the hybrid cloud.
No partner wants to wake up and realise they have lost a deal to their vendor partner. The channel invests significant time and money on on-boarding vendor technologies and ensuring they have the relevant certifications to achieve different partner statuses. Losing a deal to a vendor who was supposed to be your partner is a bit like your wife leaving you for your brother.
Instead, true vendor channel partnerships are built on trust and joint initiatives. Partner ecosystems in Africa are pending a lot of time on digital transformation efforts as they prepare to maximise cloud outcomes. This is a critical step in delivering on the hybrid cloud promise by giving customers access to the cloud environments they need, whether hybrid or private when they need them.
Happy partners and a healthy channel are the recipes to a growing bottom line. And when your channel loves you, they are willing to talk about you.
We want no part in the current channel spat amongst certain vendors and their partners. Looking ahead, we plan to continually invest in platforms and programs to enhance partner autonomy, offer additional certification paths for partners who want to develop specialised practices and deliver insights to enable customer intimacy across the engagement lifecycle.
Why? Because we genuinely believe the hybrid cloud war will be won in the channel.