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Marching Orders 2013: Strike 'Cloud' from Your Vocabulary

As part of Redmond Channel Partner's annual "Marching Orders" feature, we asked several channel luminaries to give their best advice to help Microsoft partners succeed in the coming year. Here are some tips from Howard M. Cohen, channel consultant and RCP columnist.

Integrator. That's what most of us have called ourselves for the last three decades. What do integrators do? They take hardware from various manufacturers and software from various publishers and combine them to create superior customer solutions. A proud heritage.

Over the past few years, some enterprising technologists realized they could create some of the services we used to install at customer sites and produce them more effectively in their own datacenter. Not only that, but by selling these services to a large number of customers they could achieve an economy of scale that would deliver better service at a lower price, and they would still make money doing so.

So now integrators combine hardware, software and these services delivered from remote datacenters into superior customer solutions, and save our customers money in the process.

We call these services cloud services.

If there's one thing I'd like to see channel partners do this year it would be to strike the word "cloud" from their vocabulary -- or at least stop buying into the idea that there's something mystical or magical going on here. Leverage the cloud hype if you must, but don't buy into it. They're just remotely delivered services that can be delivered more cost-effectively that way. That's all.

That is, of course, unless they fall under the new Microsoft redefinition of "private cloud" services, which we'll probably spend the next two years being confused about. Simply stated, Microsoft has chosen to use the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) definition of cloud computing to differentiate "cloud" servers from plain-old servers by adding things like pooled resources, self-service portals, elasticity and a "layer of abstraction" between the user and the underlying technology. I thought we always wanted those things.

This year, let's return to talking like adults about our customers' networks and just leave the word "cloud" out of it. Then watch their FUD go thud.

Posted on February 06, 2013