Are cloud vendors forgetting the channel?

Is the channel being forgotten by vendors racing to cash in on the gold rush in the cloud?

According to a blog post from Tim Harmon, a Forrester analyst and author of a report on Channel Models in the Era of the Cloud, many are. Not naming any specific names, Harmon offers this scathing indictment of cloud vendors in a blog post.

But in the race to the cloud, many tech vendors have forgotten that ever-critical customer relationship vehicle: the channel. Or, if they haven’t forgotten it, they’ve coaxed channel partners with the pat mantra, “Do more consulting” (“… while we take care of delivery”).

The blog post goes on to detail a recent Forrester survey done with Outsource Channel Executives of 165 channel partner executives across 39 countries. It doesn’t offer many specifics, but does note that:

  • “There is a good deal of angst and confusion among channel partners over their role/value in the cloud services technology value chain;”
  • They aren’t waiting for vendors to show them the way to the cloud; but
  • They “need a lot of help in transforming their marketing and business models” to be cloud-ready.

Ultimately, Harmon suggests, this combination of lack of support and need to change could lead to between 12 and 15 per cent of channel organizations “washing out” as a result of failed attempts to reach the cloud.

Here’s a bit of a contrarian view: At last month’s N-able Partner Summit in Phoenix, there was a great deal of talk in particular about the role of MSPs in the cloud. N-able execs were quick to note that they’re seeing more cloud vendors courting N-able and courting MSPs. According to N-able, those vendors are already going through the same cycle of going it alone and then ultimately discovering that the channel is the best route to the mass of the market that many traditional vendors have gone through over the course of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Another anecdotal observation: The VAR Guy first reported that Microsoft was specifically courting smaller resellers to help it with its cloud message for Microsoft Online Services, and last week, Microsoft Canada channel chief Corinne Sharp confirmed to that a similar outreach was well underway here in Canada.

Ultimately, Harmon suggests that it will be those vendors who make the transition well that will be the biggest winners in the channel, particularly if his predictions of 15 per cent “washout” prove true.

So think about it – supply (the number of channel companies) goes down; demand (for channel partner assets) remains high. It’s those tech vendors that amp their channel game to enable their partners’ cloud aspirations that are going to come away as the new “channel chiefs.”

Are vendors engaging you more than ever to help them reach a broader cloud audience, or do you see worrying signs that your “partners” will work around you to directly engage cloud customers? Buzz back in the comments below and let us know.