As cloud offerings mature, the approach to selling those solutions is expected to evolve as well. Last week I had the opportunity to talk about that evolution with Paul Hoffmann, senior director, technology and cloud solutions, for Ingram Micro’s cloud team. He shared an interesting approach to cloud sales that his team expects to gain momentum in 2013 – bundling.
Now, for MSPs, the concept of bundling is nothing new. You offer a branded managed services offering that arches over everything – backup, email, servers, printers, PCs, mobile devices – all enhanced with services, reporting, and proactive support. Most of you don’t break out individual products when you do that, pricing the entire bundle instead. That is what drives stronger margins in managed services.
The difference with bundling when it comes to cloud is that the connection likely starts at the vendor level, where two or more vendors join together to address issues of cloud standards and interoperability. Either way, you add value by putting components together that perform at a higher level when integrated – and that means greater margins.
Hoffmann explained to me that many cloud vendors are now exploring where and with whom to develop bundles, so the fruit of those efforts should start to hit the market soon. The goal for vendors is the same as the channel, pull disparate solutions together to gain value. For example, vendors such as Trend Micro and AWS are exploring where and how pairing up can lower the barrier to adoption by easing integration and deployment complexity – a win-win for everyone. Working out bundles at the vendor level also helps provide guidance for those vendors’ partners, showcasing how and why the products work better together – especially when it comes to cloud.
Hoffmann explained that while it may seem simple, bundling helps partners think differently about products because bundles help deepen the usage of both products and often in ways not obvious to the casual user. For example, a solution provider may not think about deploying Trend Micro security products and then using AWS as the host site for replicated data, creating a more robust solution.
The value for the channel? Letting vendors research ways to connect certain products and then tackle integration can save solution providers both time and trouble, especially since it’s the type of activity that solution providers can’t billed for. I expect vendors will launch these bundles as an example of how vendors are answering the demand from solution providers for help with interoperability between cloud and cloud-related products.
Lastly, Hoffmann shared that he also expects to see increasing sales of cloud enhancement solutions in the coming year. Complementary solutions, such as Ipanema Technologies’ AppsWork solution, which enables optimized application performance on the WAN and addresses concerns around the end users’ experience, aren’t necessary, but they do enhance the cloud solutions in place, making them a solid product for taking existing cloud deployments to the next step of efficiency.