Tag Archives: channel

The 6fusion ecosystem gets bigger!

Building the ecosystem is critical for the cloud to thrive. This isn’t just a prediction for us, it is a philosophy – customers want solutions that are designed, tested, and certified to work together.  Recently, the 6fusion ecosystem got even better (and bigger) with the announcement that Network Box USA has been granted Certified Solution status with 6fusion.

For more details, see the announcement here

We are excited to welcome Network Box to the 6fusion family!  Stay tuned for more ecosystem announcements from 6fusion as we continue to build out the premier cloud ecosystem for the channel.

 

 

6 Things I Think I Think for IaaS in 2011

I love this time of year because it is one of those rare occasions during the corporate and product development process where creative ideas and concepts designed to stimulate future success enter the entrepreneurial blood stream.  It is that rare moment where you have the benefit of an entire year of business fresh in your mind to build upon and an entire new year ahead of you to set new standards and push the envelope of success. 

For our company and for the industry, 2010 was a huge year.   We completed our Series A round of venture financing, relocated the company to the coveted North Carolina State University’s Centennial Campus and tripled the size of our team.  Meanwhile, the industry took meaningful steps toward maturity as mainstream private sector businesses and governments of all shapes and sizes began giving IaaS a very serious look.   If 2010 was the year of formal organization, 2011 will be the year of some serious and meaningful growth.  Not just for our company and our technology, but for the IaaS market as a whole.

In a post I wrote recently I did my best to explain some of the core characteristics that would be central to IaaS achieving mass adoption as the technology revolution marches forward.  While I think it’s very difficult for anyone to offer up accurate predictions for the year ahead of any fledgling market, there are some specific ‘themes’ that I think, as we look back a year from now, will have clearly emerged as bell weather trends in the industry.

To borrow a format from Peter King, one of my favorite sports writers, here are the six things (6 things, 6fusion, get it?) I think I think (for the cloud biz in 2011):

  1. Hybridization Will Prove Critical to Enterprise Adoption.  I’ve been to the edge and back and I have a few words of wisdom to share with my peers about the Enterprise cloud.  Unless what you are doing bridges a gap between what exists inside the four walls of the enterprise data center and what might safely and securely exist outside of those four walls you are just another GUI in the Red Ocean peddling the same wares we’ve seen for years.  Hybridization is something enterprise buyers will use to separate the crème from the crop in 2011.
  2. Regional Clouds Unite.  The arms race among regional managed hosting providers to beef up for cloud services was evident in 2010.  But the silo approach to building up IaaS on a regional basis will prove difficult if not impossible to compete on scale – and it won’t take long to figure this out.  In 2011 expect to see the concept of broad-based IaaS federation become a much more prominent theme as owners of regional facilities and compute partner to create scale and increase market size in the quest to truly monetize their resources and compete with the national players.
  3. The Ecosystem is Bigger Than the Organism.  The IaaS industry is beginning to realize that the creation and quantification of IaaS demand is much more important than the creation of supply.  Its one thing to have the capability to power or enable the creation of IaaS resources, but it is entirely another to drive revenue and margin to the cloud.   The emergence of business ecosystems will be a consistent theme for the coming year because partnering is the key to success in a nascent market.  In 2011 you will see more and more eyebrow-raising deals announced based on ‘synergistic’ partnerships – partnerships that drive mutual revenue and margin between companies that are bound by the common interest of leveraging, distributing and powering IaaS.
  4. It’s All About the Channel.  Building a global business tackling one end-user customer at a time doesn’t scale if your business is supposed to compete with the market pioneers.  In order to generate a serious outbound push to globalize IaaS the cost of business acquisition will be too high for almost every player.  In 2011 IaaS vendors will wake up to the fact that they need help in order to scale revenues and ultimately generate the ROI they are promising shareholders.  Queue the channel gold rush.
  5. Communities Will Emerge.  I subscribe to the notion that one day every business in every vertical will consume a form of public cloud – but we are not anywhere close to this reality.  Large scale IaaS operated by a trusted third party and made available to a select group of common-interested stakeholders is a concept that has legs.  Trust me on this one.  Building out community clouds will emerge in 2011 as one of, if not the most important, concepts to help accelerate IaaS adoption. 
  6. A Course Will Be Charted for an IaaS Futures Market.  If you don’t subscribe to the notion that the final destination for this ride is a commodity exchange for compute, stop and take a look around.  Spot markets emerged in 2010, much to the surprise of many industry pundits.  But spot markets, as novel as they are, do not a true market make.  The real money and the real opportunity are in futures trading.  There are forces at work on this as I type away, and although you won’t actually see compute on a major exchange in 2011, do expect to see this theme to creep it’s way into mainstream IaaS thinking.

Ok, so with the predictions for themes and threads out of the way, I’ll conclude this post with the 6 things I’ll be watching closer than my wallet at a pick-pocket’s convention as 2011 progresses:

  1. Shifting Big Iron:  Companies like HP and IBM have yet to emerge with serious IaaS plays and if you read the tea leaves they won’t any time soon.  I’ll be watching to see if any of the whales in the pool make a splash in the IaaS business.
  2. Processor Plays:  Intel made huge moves in the cloud in 2011 and you don’t need your tarot cards out to see where they are going.  Anyone know what AMD is thinking these days?  I’ll be watching to see if this gentle giant makes any moves that can rival thier kool-aid-drinking-all-in-pot-committed competitor.
  3. Government Clouds:  The GSA announced a major IaaS initiative announcing a schedule of vendors that could be purchased from their schedule.  But will these IaaS vendors truly make any money this way?  I’m not so sure.  My personal opinion is that the money is at a different level of the Public Sector.  Can’t wait to see!
  4. Hypervisor Competition:  KVM is rocketing up the relevance chart.  No doubt.  I’ll be watching to see how VMware plans to keep it’s toe-hold on the hypervisor market as IaaS enablement begins to drive more and more purchasing decisions.
  5. Network Providers:  The accelerated adoption of cloud services will put a big piece of the pie squarely in the hands of the network operators.  I will be watching to see how Network operators jockey to position themselves.  I don’t think it is a foregone conclusion that operators will follow the lead of companies like BT and DT.
  6. Disclosure Watch:  As more and more private sector orgs make the move to the cloud, the greater the potential that something somewhere is going to go wrong.  I will be keeping a watchful eye on key disclosures and cloud failures which could dramatically stunt the industry’s pace of growth.

6fusion’s first webinar of our 2011 series called: “Make your 2011 New Year’s cloud Resolution Now”. I’ll be elaborating on some of these points and drilling down into how service providers can drive new business to kick the session off. Come join the discussion!

Join us for our first webinar of 2011 — “Make your 2011 New Year’s Cloud Resolution Now!”

Make your 2011 New Year’s Cloud Resolution Now!

Make your New Years Cloud Resolution now and sign up to attend this informative session.  6fusion will be sharing their cloud predictions for 2011 and will show you how to drive profit and recurring revenue from the cloud while locking in your customers immediately with no up front capital investments.

This is the first in a monthly series of informative and actionable cloud seminars designed to help service providers add cloud to their services portfolios.

Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now!

Join us for a Webinar on January 6

Or for a repeat live presentation on January 13

6fusion To Integrate UC6 Cloud Platform with ConnectWise PSA Business Operating System

Integration will help service providers manage their customer cloud systems more simply and easily by centralizing customer information and lower the cost of cloud systems support

Durham, North CarolinaNovember 3, 20106fusion, the leading provider of utility billed Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) for the channel, today announced participation in the ConnectWise Developer Network program.  6fusion will deliver integration between the UC6 cloud platform and the ConnectWise PSA business operating system, offering service providers an integrated workflow and user experience.

The integration between UC6 and ConnectWise PSA will focus on providing integrated workflows and reducing duplication of effort and data by allowing service providers to import customer and user accounts from ConnectWise into the UC6 platform.  This will help service providers centralize their customer information, improve the process for keeping customer information up to date and reduce the duplication of effort.

“With the UC6/ConnectWise PSA integration, service providers can drive additional growth and profitability from the cloud by lowering operating costs and improving organizational scalability,” explained Rob Bissett, Vice President of Product Management for 6fusion.

Additionally, UC6 will export all workloads to ConnectWise as managed configurations, which will improve the service provider’s ability to offer their customers exceptional service as well as to include cloud workloads in ConnectWise reports.

“We are excited to be working with 6fusion to provide improved operational support for cloud-deployed workloads,” said Jeannine Edwards, Director of ConnectWise Community.  “We are committed to partnering with leading vendors to drive additional value to our community.“

To learn more, visit www.6fusion.com or stop by Booth #422 at the ConnectWise IT Nation 2010 event in Orlando, Florida, November 4-6, 2010.

Contact: John Cowan, 919-917-5150

Understanding the Role of the Channel in Cloud Computing

Larry Walsh, of Channel Insider, recently tackled the sensitive subject of the role of the IT service Channel in the burgeoning market for cloud computing services and then subsequently posted a follow up. Since 6fusion is the only 100% Channel focused cloud computing provider in the market that I know of, I naturally read Larry’s piece with an extra amount of attention.

Walsh makes a couple of very poignant observations about what is happening in the market regarding Cloud computing and the impact it has on the thousands of IT intermediaries we often call Resellers or Managed Service Providers (MSPs) but I think Walsh’s perspective on the role of the Channel is somewhat uninviting.

The first point he makes is that the majority of Cloud service offerings are aimed at cutting out the Channel from the business equation. He couldn’t be more right about this. Maybe I’ve been in this business for too long, but everything you hear and read about regarding the Channel and Cloud computing stinks like some Michael Dell ‘how to’ screw the Channel guide from the 1990s. Make no mistake. There is no room for the Channel in the cloud business plans of Microsoft, Salesfore.com, Google Apps (as I recently wrote about) or any of the other hosting providers that have jumped into Cloud computing.

What I would add to Larry’s analysis is that the threat of disintermediation is like none other we’ve seen in the industry. I know we’ve all heard the displacement theory before, but it’s not like the old days. Cloud computing is very much a paradigm shift. It is not about a more efficient way to package, sell and ship the same commodity hardware and software. Cloud computing is a business model rooted in the fundamentals of how we consume technology. It’s much bigger than most IT service providers can imagine and it’s about control over the very elements that keep IT service providers in business.

The second point that Larry makes is that the Channel would be ill-advised to build a mini-cloud and hope for a measure of insulation from the threat. He points to tough slogging MSPs had when they built out big NOCs for the rising tide of support subscriptions, but here is the true reality: Cloud economics is about sheer volume. This is why Google, Microsoft, Hosting shops, big telcos and the hardware vendors are leading the charge. An IT Service Provider thinking about dropping a couple hundred grand on some kit and virtualization software to ‘take on the Man’ better think again. This is a mistake of epic proportions. It would be like bringing a hundred dollar bill to a high-stakes poker room.

So what is a Channel company to do in this situation? Walsh says MSPs and VARs should adopt an ‘agency’ approach acting as an advisor to customers trying to sort out the malaise of application integration, SLAs and contract matters.

6fusion is taking a much different approach with the Channel.

When we started our company a few years ago and told our peers, investors and others that 6fusion’s technology was going to be 100% Channel focused we got a lot of quizzical looks. Channel focused? Huh? Isn’t the middle man dead? I don’t know. Why don’t you go ask Michael Dell. Dell isn’t so brave these days and contrary to the pundits predictions 15 years ago the Channel is alive and kicking. But seriously, here is why 6fusion is the only Channel focused company in the Cloud Service business today: Because Cloud Computing is about business processes, operational improvement and cost containment as much as it is about purely innovative technology or cool apps. And we understand that. Period. We resisted the temptation to become an apps vendor because we are not the ones that should be deciding what apps to run and where to run them. We simply provide the cloud infrastructure and tools to help you build what YOUR customers want and need to integrate with how they run their businesses today. And most importantly, we can do this with zero capital investment from the Partner. We operate 6fusion the same way an Electric Light Co. would. Pure consumption.

So my experience makes me disagree with Walsh in that I believe whole-heartedly that VARs and MSPs can and should build Cloud services into their portfolio without compromising their client base to the likes of Google and Microsoft or picking up the tab to launch a rack full of servers to get into the game. We are helping the Channel go to market faster and with fewer financial resources every day. And if you speak with our growing number of Channel customers about it, they will tell you they are beginning to make more money than they could ever make peddling someone else’s SaaS or yielding the infrastructure market to others. This in spite of the fact that the world is telling them they no longer matter. Again.

Is Google Dealing from the Bottom of the Deck When It Comes to the Channel?

I just watched Google’s Jeff Ragusa’s video clip explaining the Google Apps reseller model. If I didn’t know any better I would have thought the Just for Laughs Festival I attend every year started early. Here is the big joke: Google is offering a whopping 20% of the Google Apps revenue generated by the Channel for directing their customers to Google’s coffers. For those of you that don’t know yet, let me give you the math: Google charges $50 per year per user for access to Google Apps. Gee Goog, you shouldn’t have. I mean really! A cool $10 per year for every user I hand over? Where do I sign up for this cash bonanza!

The financial scraps approach to building a Channel play and my sarcasm aside, this is where it appears Google is dealing from the bottom of the deck when it comes to the Channel: You are giving up the control over the operation of your customer most important applications: Productivity and Email. Opening up your IT Service practice to Google is nothing short asking the fox to guard the henhouse.

If you are seriously considering the Google reseller program, ask tough questions. Here are 10 questions to get you started:

  1. How does Google Apps integrate with my clients other business systems?
  2. Will I be able to apply my remote monitoring and maintenance tools to Google Apps so that I can maintain SLA consistency with my client?
  3. Will Google Apps integrate with my Professional Services Automation (PSA) software?
  4. Who controls the database where customers are registered?
  5. Will my clients email be filled with Google ads, just like my Gmail account?
  6. Can I choose where my customer email data is stored geographically to satisfy data residency requirements?
  7. If I educate my customer about Google Apps and then they sign up directly, how do I get compensated?
  8. Can I just take the Google Apps software and run it on my how hardware?
  9. My customer has built an IT operation on Active Directory services. Is IT migration to Google Apps as easy as buying an Adword?
  10. Who owns the risk if Google Apps fails since I’m the one billing and collecting from the client?

Google’s ‘hand is quicker than the eye’ program comes with a nice slick portal, white labeling bells and whistles, a cool training program and the power of Google’s expertise in building a state of the art system from the ground up. But don’t be fooled. Google fails just like any other IT system. What matters in this is who owns the guts of the operation; it’s who controls the data. Google is right on point when they say that centralized application delivery is the future (SaaS), but IT Service Providers need to ARCHITECT hosted solutions for their clients to perpetually demonstrate value and relevance as the cloud computing paradigm continues its takeover of IT best practices and deployment strategies. It might be the harder road to travel in the near term, but your service practice will be better for it.

I truly believe IT Service Providers CAN succeed and actually beat Google at their own game. I spoke with one of our Service Provider clients recently that believed the price of Google Apps was going to ‘win’ the market because Microsoft on premise solutions are so expensive. I said to him, “look, if your customer is not married to the features and functions of the Microsoft solution, then don’t let them become susceptible to the Google pitch.” By that I meant begin exploring hosting open source software alternatives to Microsoft. Other Service Providers are flocking to open source mail systems and productivity software suites and the control over pricing to your customers is very compelling.

Naysayers point to the fact that Google’s price of $50 per year per user is simply so rock bottom that you can’t compete if you are a regional Service Provider. Not true. At 6fusion we are helping Service Providers go to market with open source services priced the SAME as Google and we are beating them at their own game. Google sees the commodity applications as a loss leader. They aren’t interested in building their business on Apps revenue. They are interested in everything that trails the wake of productivity and email application use. IT Service Providers working with us are starting to use the very same strategy (we give them commodity utility computing infrastructure so they can compete with the likes of Google and others). And it’s smart. Any mature IT Service Provider knows full well that the bread and butter are IT management, migrations, projects and ongoing fixed fee SLA revenues.

So Google now has over 1000 employees focused on cracking the Enterprise SaaS nut and you, the IT Service provider, have a team 12 consultants and 2 sales people. Worried? Don’t be. Here is what Google will never have that you will never have: Trusted advisor status with your customer’s decision makers and more to lose if things don’t work as advertised. This is a very valuable trump card. If you play your cards right, Google (and others) should never be a real threat to your business.