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Heard of a little something called the cloud? You can’t venture anywhere these days without hearing the cloud buzzword. But that’s with good reason. Cloud is fundamentally changing how people and businesses consume technology and how vendors, telcos, and IT solution providers operate their businesses.

Maybe that’s why Michael Capellas, former Compaq CEO and current chief of the Virtual Computing Environment (the joint venture of Cisco, EMC and VMware), told Cisco partners last week that the cloud has already won because the consumer decided it has. Take a look at Robert Dutt’s coverage of the Cisco Partner Summit talk at Dutt says Capellas stopped just short of saying “resistance is futile.”

But Cisco’s not about to offer any public cloud services itself, or any cloud-based applications. Rather, the networking giant urged channel partners to build their own private and public clouds using Cisco gear, either for end customers or to host services for end customers.

And if the channel headline these days is not about cloud, it’s probably about SMBs. Most of the big vendors are working hard to capture more of the small and midsized business market, recognizing that channel partners are the way to get to this fast growing segment. EMC is no exception. As reported over at CRN this week, the tech giant which owns VMware and RSA, among other brands, is looking to make it easier for SMB partners to do business with it.

Meanwhile, MSPMentor reports a glitch at Telestra in Australia delayed some Microsoft BPOS payments to partner bank accounts. While not earth shattering, the glitch comes at a time when many Microsoft partners are keeping a close watch on Microsoft’s plans around BPOS’s successor, Office 365. Much concern has been expressed about statements from Microsoft that it plans to run the billing itself. Joe Panettieri writes: “My best guess: Microsoft will appease partners with some sort of cloud channel billing strategy after Office 365 launches. But that’s just an educated hunch.”

Channelnomics this week reports that NetSuite, the ERP SAAS provider, is looking to be more engaged with partners, introducing the NetSuite SuiteStart Service, a channel incentive program that gives solution providers 100 percent of the first year’s margins, as well as free training and warm leads to prime sales engines. Channelnomics Larry Walsh writes: “It seems as though the SuiteStart is also aimed at making ERP more accessible to a new kind of partner, namely non-technology companies. Many cloud-based ERP vendors, including NetSuite and Intaact, report surging interest in their applications among accountants and professional services consultants.”

Finally this week, check out this point of view from a former IT solution provider turned cloud integrator. In this coverage from CRN, Kent Erickson provides details of how his business, Pointivity, changed: “In 1999, Pointivity had 165 employees generating $16 million in annual sales based on capital expenditure IT projects. Today, Pointivity has 29 employees generating $15 million in sales and is twice as profitable selling customers three-year contracts to consume IT as a service.”  He urges partners to embrace the cloud and become cloud integrators, by aggregating and integrating cloud services, while adding their own value and knowledge of a client’s business.

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