When you listen to all the chatter about cloud computing, you hear a lot about there going to be one type of giant, monolithic cloud through which all services and software will be rendered. I disagree. The future of cloud computing will involve multiple clouds, giving solution providers and channel partners the opportunity to help manage these multiple offerings.
Over the past decade, multi service providers (MSPs) learned a lot about the expenses associated with the development of managed services. While the business model promised high profits and recurring revenue streams, the reality is managed services take time to develop, and that time cut into profits.
Cloud computing offers similar problems. As I’ve stated before, service providers looking to deliver cloud computing will have to overcome the difficulties associated with geographical preferences and customizations and me able to deliver applications with a high degree of reliability. That’s why so many service providers have begun leveraging their channel programs, with partners getting a cut of the profits and tailoring the provider’s offerings for particular customer segments…but even than the margins on after-market cloud opportunities can be slim.
That said, moving forward I think it will be combination of public and private clouds delivering a vast array of applications and services, which for vendors could result in the headache of having to manage multitudes of different service contracts across multitudes of deployments. Acting as a virtual manager of all these services and agreements will be the next logical opportunity for service providers to play a significant role as they find themselves a niche as the “management layer” of cloud services.