Cloud

Finding the Right Channel in the Cloud

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Last week, thousands of people converged on the Moscone Center in San Francisco to hear about Salesforce.com’s latest offerings and success stories. The Dreamforce conference was a celebration of the rapidly evolving cloud marketplace which was as important for Salesforce.com’s partners as it was for the host itself. It also represented another milestone for the growing cloud channel ecosystem.

Nearly every company exhibiting its wares at last week’s conference agreed that Salesforce.com, Dreamforce and the other Salesforce.com events represent the most important channels to market for cloud companies today. With over 95,000 registered attendees, both online and in person, Dreamforce was filled with hot prospects seeking the latest innovations and proven solutions to complement Salesforce.com’s widening portfolio of capabilities.

Even offering free admission didn’t lessen the quality of the traffic according to many of the exhibitors I interviewed. Instead, it exponentially increased the number of people they could reach.

And nothing could be better for customers and partners alike than the heated competition between Salesforce.com and Oracle for the moniker of hosting the biggest tech event in the industry.

Conferences are back, but just as importantly channel relationships are expanding to create more vibrant partner expos which add even greater value for customers that are seeking to move to the cloud.

In the past year, nearly every major channel company — from Avnet to Tech Data — has initiated new cloud programs aimed at expanding the sourcing alternatives available to end customers. Ingram Micro, CDW and other traditional channel companies were exhibiting at Dreamforce. Insight and other major distributors are all offering online cloud marketplaces.

And, key cloud companies like Salesforce.com and Google are intensifying their efforts to develop new channel programs, which create more attractive partnership arrangements and foster more profitable business models.

All of these efforts are still embryonic and none is fully proven, but the level of activity is accelerating and the array of channel alternatives is growing.

The expanding role of the channel is essential to ensure the continued growth of the cloud marketplace. It is critical to penetrate the small and midsize business (SMB) market, extend its reach into new geographies and cater horizontal solutions to specific industries.

THINKstrategies, the Cloud Computing Showplace and Rising Tide Media will host our second annual Cloud Channel Summit on Monday, November 5, at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA. to discuss the latest developments in the market and identify industry best practices for building successful partnerships in the cloud. The Summit will provide an executive forum for peer-to-peer networking focused entirely on creating profitable channel relationships in the cloud marketplace.

Jeff Kaplan is the Managing Director of THINKstrategies and Founder of the Cloud Computing Showplace. He can be reached at jkaplan@thinkstrategies.com.

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