At a crammed Urban Tree last night, First Distribution offered its reseller partners the opportunity to almost effortlessly jump on the multi-billion dollar cloud computing bandwagon with the launch of its First for Cloud cloud services brokerage.

With international analysts predicting unprecedented growth in cloud services over the next few years, and with IDC stating that 65% of SMBs in South Africa are either already utilizing or considering using cloud technologies, First Distribution’s Cloud and Hosting Business Unit Manager, Kevin Derman says that if you are in the IT channel and still only thinking of cloud, you may have already missed the boat.

But First for Cloud, he adds, could just be the life belt local resellers need.

“At First Distribution our goal has always been to help grow and enrich our reseller partners,” says Derman. “And we’ve done just that along this journey putting plans together for First for Cloud.

“We have aggregated the best cloud services available from the top cloud vendors and we are offering these to resellers through Web stores which are uniquely branded online shops,” he says. “All the services we are offering have been vetted, we know the vendors and we’ve made sure the solutions work – and that they will work for your customers.”

Offering services and solutions from vendors such as Google, Oracle, Intel Security (McAfee), Pamoja, Softlayer and VMware, Derman says that First for Cloud is registered throughout Africa, which will also enable resellers to enter into previously untapped markets.

Derman says that cloud is set to become ubiquitous and that resellers, instead of seeing it as a threat to their existing business, should embrace it to ensure their continued success.

“With the number of vendors moving at least a portion (if not the majority) of their business to the cloud, the change is inevitable,” he says. “Not embracing it will make your business irrelevant in a very short time. This technology offers more flexibility in its routes to market than any other tech we have seen to date. Here I am referring to Private Cloud, Public Cloud and the Hybrid Cloud model.”

For the channel, he says, the ability to build a solution for their customers using any or all of these solutions provides immense flexibility.

At a basic level there is a choice to make in moving your business into the cloud:
* Build your own;
* Start reselling someone else’s cloud product; and
* Build a combination of your own solution and utilise components of someone else’s cloud solution.

“However, the quickest route to accelerate the adoption of cloud in your IT business is to find a cloud provider that allows you to resell their solution as your own, while you maintain the customer relationship and ownership,” Derman says.

“This way you provide your customer with the solutions they want without having to invest in the implementation or on-going maintenance of the solution itself. You also don’t need the highly expensive and rare expertise required to build your own solution.

“With its low barrier to entry and flexible scalability (both up and down), customers are drawn to the cloud, in turn forcing the channel to provide solutions in that manner – customer demand is driving the change as much as vendor offerings,” he says. “With customers preferring not to spend huge upfront capital for IT solutions, the cloud is the perfect solution.”

More details on First for Cloud, including an extensive Q&A with Derman, is available on First Distribution’s Press Office on IT-Online.