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When elephants fight, it’s usually the mice that get killed. As the fight for control over the cloud intensifies between major cloud vendors such as Amazon, the traditional old IT guard solution providers in the channel are in danger of getting squashed.

Not only are large amounts of infrastructure disappearing into the cloud, the billing cycle typically associated with applications in the cloud is going to force a lot of solution providers to rethink their business models because the payments for delivering an IT solution are now extended over multiple years.

The good news is that there is still plenty of interest in on-premise IT systems. You could make the case that applications in the cloud could wind up doing more to extend revenue opportunities in the channel than hurt them—at least for the short term.

The problem right now is nobody can be sure which of the multitude of cloud platforms are ultimately going to carry the day. The result is that a lot of solution providers in the channel are hedging their bets. Case in point is Datapipe, a provider of managed services that plans to acquire Newvem, a provider of cloud orchestration software optimized for the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud.

Customers are looking to solution providers in the channel to essentially put a face on AWS, which is primarily built to address those that can self-service their own needs, said Ed Laczynski, senior vice president for cloud strategy and architecture for Datapipe. As the customers with those kinds of technical skills represent a relatively small percentage of the overall market, Datapipe sees a void left by the likes of AWS that the channel could fill by extending its cloud services. None of that means Datapipe will abandon other offerings in favor of AWS, but it does mean that managed services is keeping all its options open.

Amazon clearly has enterprise ambitions. But it’s unlikely AWS will be the only cloud that matters. It will be one of several cloud platforms that customers will have workloads running on. The opportunity for the channel going forward will be to orchestrate the management of those workloads regardless of where they are actually located.

Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.