Companies big and small are taking a cloud-first approach to building their IT infrastructure. Many of the smaller companies that make up much of the market for managed IT services actually have a cloud-only strategy. The reasons are simple. Lower cost and hardware requirements greatly outweigh diminishing concerns over security and reliability of cloud-based solutions. Cloud-based solutions are often easier to use than server-based in-house offerings, too. The age of Everything as a Service (XaaS) is here.
This is an opportunity for dealers who also provide managed services. Customers need direction in selecting the right cloud services and support to ensure that they all work well with each other and with in-house systems. XaaS solutions are also constantly updating, which means ongoing testing to ensure data and integration integrity, and configuration changes to take advantage of new features.
“With the XaaS model, in which everything is being delivered to the customer through public and private clouds as a subscription-based service, companies can tailor their computing environment to shape the experiences they want,” said Stephanie Dismore, vice president and general manager, Americas Commercial Channel at HP. This trend follows years of companies employing vertical cloud-based delivery models: software as service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and storage as a service (STaaS). “XaaS encompasses all of these models as well as industry-specific business processes, analytics, and collaboration,” said Dismore.
“Dealers have a great opportunity to sell value-added services and become trusted advisors to customers that need help implementing XaaS,” said Dismore. “But they should keep in mind that shifting from a transaction-based operation to a contractual model will require some realignment of business processes and likely have some financial implications.”
Joe Odore, product manager at Panasonic, sees increased adoption of cloud-based storage and document management solutions, especially in small businesses. “Most of these customers have a limited budget for IT services, and many cloud-based document management services offer a scalable solutions from storage, document management, and technical support.” As a result, more businesses are adopting document management as a service over on-premise solutions. Odore believes that dealers offering cloud solutions can add recurring revenue streams that require less support and sales and technical training requirements.
Dealers might even want to consider hosting XaaS solutions, and some hardware OEMs are helping to make that possible. “With the growth of cloud computing, there is also a growing demand for businesses to access tools more conveniently, and SaaS delivers by allowing third-party providers to host applications to make these tools readily available via the Internet,” said Hiro Imamura, vice president and general manager, Business Imaging Solutions Group at Canon U.S.A.. He noted that Canon is preparing its dealers for this growth through the Canon Business Services Platform, a software subscription delivery and management infrastructure platform offering that allows channel partners to order, manage, bill, and deliver subscription-based document and information management solutions.