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Crafting your own Cloud Ecosystem Strategy for Channel Service Providers



Guest Post: Irene Cortes, HPE Helion Marketing

There’s no shortage of thought leadership reminding you about the profound impact cloud computing has had—and will continue to have—on information technology.  But it’s one thing to say it. It’s quite another to put some empirical heft behind the claims.

That’s what Forrester Consulting has done in a new study commissioned by HPE investigating the reasons channel partners join cloud ecosystems. To learn what benefits channel partners gain from these cloud ecosystems, Forrester surveyed decision-makers at more than 250 independent software vendors (ISVs), service providers [SPs], and value-added resellers [VARs] across the globe.

The results underscore the challenge that the cloud presents to channel partners, while also pointing to a way forward for an industry in the throes of disruption. 

Among the most interesting findings is the degree to which service providers and VARs are coming to resemble one another. Forrester puts it this way:

“VARs are developing their SaaS hosting capabilities to the point that they project to host SaaS services at a higher rate than service providers within the next 12 months, and service providers are building out their SaaS resale business at a faster pace than VARs.”

About half of the respondents said that one or more of the channel partner labels (ISV, VAR, SP) described their business.


As the cloud erodes the walls that once shielded the respective turfs of ISVs, VARs, and service providers, channel partners find themselves scrambling to offer new products and services.  At the top of the list are data management, application management, big data, and digital marketing services. Forrester found that the average channel partner portfolio boasts 3.6 unique categories of business.

While the borders between channel partners are blurring, ISV, VARs, and SPs confront challenges that are still somewhat unique to each category of partner.

The Forrester survey found that:

  • It can take VARs too long to launch new products, and when they do, they often have trouble selling effectively to decision-makers. VARs have great relationships with IT departments, but not so much with the C-Suite.
  • ISVs were among the first to embrace the cloud, but they no longer have the market to themselves. Competition in the SaaS landscape compels ISVs to constantly offer new services and differentiate their products.
  • With even manufacturers developing cloud services, SPs find themselves in an increasingly crowded market and under pressure to explain why they offer the best customization and support capabilities.

Growing the portfolio of products and services is frequently the response to these threats. But simply expanding the menu is neither easy nor is it always the wisest course of action.  

Enter the cloud ecosystem.

Forrester found that 90 percent of channel partners expected “the revenue share generated by partner relationships to increase in the next two years.” More than half expected the revenue share to increase by 10 percent or more in large part due to cloud ecosystems. When you consider the benefits that come from joining a cloud partner ecosystem, it’s easy to see why channel partners are optimistic.

According to the survey respondents, dividends include:

  • Efficiencies from cloud storage and infrastructure services
  • Expanded customer reach
  • More-robust technology offerings
  • A bigger portfolio of services

These benefits also accrue to the end customers, who have grown used to getting what they want, when they want it. Channel partners told Forrester that the top two benefits for end customers are the ability to compare service-level agreements and locally delivered data sovereignty services.

Of course, joining a partner ecosystem is not a cure-all. So yes, the cloud is changing everything, but channel partners need to choose the right ecosystems for their particular business goals. Read the Forrester study, The Value Of Cloud Partner Ecosystems, and start crafting your cloud ecosystem strategy.

Learn more about HPE PartnerOne for Cloud.

Senior Manager, Cloud Online Marketing
About the Author


I manage the HPE Helion social media and website teams promoting the enterprise cloud solutions at HPE for hybrid, public, and private clouds. I was previously at Dell promoting their Cloud solutions and was the open source community manager for OpenStack and at Rackspace and Citrix Systems. While at Citrix Systems, I founded the Citrix Developer Network, developed global alliance and licensing programs, and even once added audio to the DOS ICA client with assembler. Follow me at @SpectorID

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