At Digital Bridge Partners, we agree that Private Clouds are the best route to accelerate the move to Cloud Computing in the enterprise.  With that, comes the recognition that managing Hybrid Clouds (private and public together) presents a unique opportunity for a channel that is mostly seen as ‘going away’ in the cloud era.
From a channel roadmap point of view, how does this help and what does it mean?
Historically the channel (since the dawn of PC era) has grown up as an on-prem integrator bringing disparate HW and SW together to form last mile solutions inside of small to large enterprises.  We know the cloud changes all of this and moves the value prop away from on-prem integration to more process and/or software driven value in the from of cloud services that tie together and add value across public clouds.
At first blush, this leaves the channel in the unenviable position (and dilemma) of either staying with a sinking boat (on-prem perpetual license resale, traditional integration) business model or jumping ship and becoming a cloud broker/integrator (recurring revenue, API-driven integration value points).  But then there’s the hybrid cloud option which Channel Cloud Consulting sees as one of the best tracks to helping the traditional channel evolve from the old, dwindling model of on-prem/resale/integration to the cloud computing paradigm.
Big AHA! Moment:
Most pundits believe that Enterprises need to learn cloud management principals from the inside out, and that if they can learn new ITL and ITSM principals for running IT within a Private Cloud then they are ready to manage and burst to Public and thereby manage Hybrid Clouds.  Enterprises that skip the Private Cloud journey, so the story goes, will fail in the Public cloud because they don’t know how to navigate the abstraction of applications, storage, networking out of traditional App/Dev silos.
If this is true, and we think it is, this understanding represents the perfect opportunity for the VARs who have helped their clients build in-house datacenter solutions and have established positions as trusted advisors to deliver heterogenous on-prem solutions.  The step from virtualized workloads to private cloud is big but its not herculean, mainly because while private cloud introduces a whole bunch of new competency requirements (surrounding helping IT justify, architect and manage the transition to becoming an internal service provider), the VAR business model remains intact (on-prem license and HW resale and on-prem pro and managed service delivery).
Don’t get us wrong, VARs need to invest in training and new Professional and Managed Services need to be developed, but the journey is more of an evolution than a revolution.
Good news because the channel is not good at executing big strategic transitions.
Additionally, while investing in Private Cloud Professional and Managed Services, channel partners need to concurrently start their journey toward promoting Hybrid Cloud in helping their clients justify, burst and manage the Public Cloud instances that are a  natural result of setting up Private Cloud competence.  To this end, see our next post on Choosing your Horse – Which Cloud Vendor to Ride