It's funny that at the same time telcos are screwing channel partners contracts and commissions - InterNAP, Switch&Data/Equinix, Deltacom (before ELNK) - the "Cloud" is looking to the Channel in a big way.
The biggest problem that cloud providers face is how to make sales. There are way too many providers, not nearly enough differentiation, too much vague marketing, and the sales process is challenging. That's right: Challenging. It's one thing to talk about being a Trusted Advisor or doing SPIN Selling, but it's another for a sales person to walk away from any sale at all, so he will end up in many cases as a quote jockey.
But in Cloud (and VoIP), unless the service providers clean up their schtick, will become another case of commodity sales whereby the sales agent will quote out a couple of providers for the customer to pick from.
Solution Selling in the cloud space is tough right now. Take this tweet today from VMworld #SEC2114 "Providers are saying that security isn't their responsibility?"
Also, the president of Savvis is saying that cloud brokers and marketplaces are "fluffery" and "destined to fail". He's wrong. There is not enough clear distinction among cloud providers - any more than there is in data center space - to the avergae buyer. Sure, in data centers you have some certifications that the buyer can ask for; security methods; but after that the checklist is about availability, location, power, and connectivity. Rackspace has had some notable outages over the years, but since the average buyer doesn't pay attention - and the media doesn't write about every outage or security breach (and there are a ton of them) - the buyers are in the dark about what they are buying and from who.
So to make more sales, companies like US Datanet, VoxOx/Telcentris, EarthLink, and so many others are hoping the channel is the answer. It can be if the providers do some of the work needed for it to work.
What SIC codes would most benefit from your services and why?
Why should they pick you over Savvis or Terremark?
What service delivery attribute do you excel at?
How do you design for resiliency and security?
These are just a few of the questions to answer clearly and concisely.
MPLS is just catching on in the Channel -- I know, better late than never - but the only sales trigger is multi-location.