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Given the fact that the distinction between managed hosting and cloud computing is relatively thin, it should not be all that surprising to see solution provider starting to offer managed cloud computing services. What is surprising is that more of them are starting to wrap channel programs around those services as part of an effort to get other solution providers to resell those services.

The latest instance of this trend is CloudOne, which today at the IBM Innovate 2012 conference launched a global reseller program that allows solution providers to resell the application testing services that CloudOne built on top of tools from IBM. According to CloudOne CEO John McDonald, working with IBM allowed CloudOne to create a managed service that spans cloud computing platforms developed by CloudOne and IBM.

The company manages the application tooling and testing process on behalf of customers such as McDonald’s and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of North Carolina. Those companies no longer want to spend money on IT infrastructure to support those processes, they don’t want to have to manage it either. Working with CloudOne, for example, allows the internal IT organization at Blue Cross/Blue Shield of North Carolina to evolve into being a broker of IT services rather than having to build everything themselves, says Dana Gantt, principal architect for IS applications at Blue Cross/Blue Shield of North Carolina.

In the case of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of North Carolina the actual IBM Rational tools are actually licensed by the healthcare provider. Gantt says the IT organization worked with IBM to allow those licenses to be transferred to CloudOne, which hosts the servers in their own isolated cloud environment. Applications are then deployed and managed by Fujitsu, which has a long history of providing infrastructure services to Blue Cross/Blue Shield of North Carolina.

According to Ashok Reddy, director of offerings management for IBM Rational software, says different customers are obviously at different levels of maturity when it comes to the cloud, but it’s clear that many of them will prefers to increasingly rely on channel partners in the cloud rather than continue to build and manage their own IT infrastructure. In fact, CloudOne’s McDonald says that biggest issue is not the cloud computing technology itself, but rather working through all the service level agreements required when there is no universally accepted set of terms and conditions for delivering services via the cloud.

Nevertheless, it may be that lack of clarity that is creating the demand for “managed cloud services” in the first place. The simple fact of the matter is that most organizations don’t want to be troubled by tactical issues, especially in the era of the cloud. That creates the opportunity for solution providers to morph into becoming the tactical execution arm of IT organizations that want to spend their time laying out the overall orchestration strategy.

In fact, one of the primary reasons that the channel exists in the first place is because solution providers routinely perform the tasks that either a vendor or customer doesn’t want to be bothered with having to accomplish. In the age of the cloud, things are no different.