Channel partners routinely look at the $35 billion Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) run-rate and conclude that their role in this opportunity has been bypassed. Many partners have struggled to overcome this challenge for years; fortunately, an emerging opportunity has accelerated channel growth, allowing for the capture of managed services, professional services and IaaS consumption.
Over the past decade, end users who have typically relied on resellers as their trusted advisor have now established direct relationships with IaaS companies, including Microsoft, AWS, IBM and now Google. In many cases, end users have multiple public cloud accounts that have been deployed under a form of shadow IT. These environments have grown significantly over the past 3 – 5 years, but they haven't been fully optimized to leverage the efficiencies of IaaS, resulting in end users being over budget and hard pressed to find savings.
The challenge of continuous optimization is difficult, but for those who are willing to invest in building an IaaS practice, there are six key stages of the sales cycle you need to master to ensure success.
Stage 1: Lead Identification
Identifying lead opportunities is an obvious stage—it’s also the most important part of your sales cycle. Partners have expressed to me directly that this is also one of the most restricting part of the sales cycle. But if you are an MSP or service-led partner, you have an advantage as you are already familiar with your end customer’s environment. In leveraging your NOC, you can identify which environments are in a public or private cloud. These leads should be your primary target, meaning the task of finding opportunities isn’t as difficult as it may seem.
Stage 2: Sales Consultation
Industry trends indicate more users are moving to hybrid cloud solutions, so once you have your leads, you should be looking to execute a 6 – 18 month hybrid cloud strategy review for them. Your consultation should focus on the end user's infrastructure strategy to gain an overview of their private data center and public cloud outlook. The goal of this consultation is to have the end customer agree to an assessment of their on-premise and cloud environment as this will lead to your most successful marketing tool: the assessment.
Phase 3: The Assessment
A complete assessment will give you the discovery needed to identify workload readiness and cost analysis. Note that this will also give you the opportunity to provide a cost savings to your end user, instilling confidence that will drive long-term growth and platform stickiness.
Stage 4: Architecture
With your assessment, you should also be looking to identify the opportunities you have to optimize your end-user’s network performance, security vulnerabilities, operational support and cost modeling to put together a proposal for re-architecture. This should include additional lift and shift of the current on-premise environment where applicable.
Stage 5: Third-Party Integration
While you’re re-architecting your end-user’s environment, you should be leveraging the software vendors you have built relationships with over the past 10-20 years. Channel vendors such as Juniper, F5, Fortinet, RedHat, Veritas, Trend Micro, Symantec and Citrix all drive an integrated solution to these public clouds. This is also your opportunity to strengthen the relationships you have with these vendors as well.
Stage 6: Proof of Concept
Proof of Concepts (PoC) are powerful tools you can use to demonstrate feasibility of the re-architected environment. This will help accelerate the project and allow your end user to realize increased performance and cost savings. For example, Ingram Micro’s partners that have closed with PoCs show a win rate of more than 80%.
For the public cloud vendor, you as a partner are now providing a path to platform stickiness. You are providing the end user with confidence that their environment is fully optimized for their needs.
Each of the above stages may seem logical, but it can be challenging to execute correctly as they require a proactive approach. To take advantage of these stages, you’ll have to consider training your technical and sales teams, including the need for certifications and accreditations. It’s also important to have the right tools and resources in place across your business to execute the assessment and optimization cycles. On top of all this, you’ll also need to consider your billing and management platforms to ensure your business environment is continuously optimized for cloud agility.
Ingram Micro has taken a formal approach to consulting our partners on their IaaS business framework. Our partners are able to scale their business using Ingram Micro’s platforms and solutions, which cover the tools, services and resources they need to qualify, assess, architect, optimize, migrate, provision, invoice, support and manage an IaaS business.