On the LinkedIN Group for the Channel Partners Network, Heather Margolis wrote, "Cloud Computing has spurred the need for a new type of VAR and/or partnership elements. Read more here and tell me your thoughts." (That's one way to get traffic to your blog).
It's not about saving a client money any more. It's about saving them time, making their employees more productive, and adding business efficiency - without the technology getting in the way (which isn't always easy).
Being the Trusted Advisor today means being able to add Business Intelligence to the solution. Systems Integrators were valuable because they could provision, implement and glue all the parts and pieces of hardware and software together.
Most Systems Integrators had a niche. Well, we call it a niche today but back then, they were in a software silo. The silo was created around the programming language they were proficient in.
ManyVAR's/Agents/Account Executives have a similar business issue today. They only know one or two programming languages (POTS/PRI/DSL/Integrated-T1). When you only have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. For example, is a Cisco VAR going to recommend non-Cisco gear?
Understanding Cloud Computing and what it truly means for the Business going forward is an Integration Process, because most often when Hosted PBX or SAAS are introduced into a business, the process changes. The business must be prepared for those changes - otherwise the results will be disasterous.
Then there is the concept of the Cloud itself. (Do you know how many data center outages we have had in the last year? How many fiber cuts? Lots!)
The Cloud is big because all the vendors are hoping that it will be the Next Wave of Revenue. The truth is that many companies pushing Virtualization and Cloud Computing have zero idea what they are doing; have little security in place; redundancy is phase III of the business plan; and the customer is clueless about what they are buying versus what they are really getting.
This isn't POTS or DSL. It's more like SIP Trunking - a decent spec, but not a standard.
What happens when the data center is unreachable? No one is working. It is costing the business money.
There are many questions to be answered: Is the data backed up in real time? Is it saved off-site? Can it be accessed in an emergency? How? Business Continuity Planning is an ugly word that no one wants to talk about, but as Voice, Databases, business life-blood moves to the Cloud, BCP better be in place and many questions need to be answered. That's not a five minute conversation while looking at last month's bill.