Study identifies lack of Cloud knowledge could be a cause for concern in the channel

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– Majority of partners admit ‘fear and confusion’ to Cloud services
– Security and risk of downtime emerge as top end-user issues

Research released today by leading next generation technology provider Opal, reveals an alarming lack of knowledge from the channel when it comes to Cloud computing, with just one-in-ten fully understanding the technology despite recognising the huge potential opportunity it represents.

The study, which questioned 1,000 resellers, VARS and system integrators in October this year, was commissioned by Opal to investigate the strategic impact The Cloud currently has on the channel, and the perceived barriers to its development.

Worryingly 40% of resellers admit a sense of ‘fear and confusion’ around Cloud Computing, and the sense of trepidation to embrace the technology also extends to end users, with 57% reporting uncertainty among their customer bases. The research also explored the top end-user concerns when it comes to cloud services, with security fears (36%) followed by risk of downtime (22%) emerging top.

However, despite this, a fifth recognised the Cloud as a key future revenue stream for their business and a third considered it to be a ‘huge opportunity’ for the channel.

The research also reveals a lack of agreement over what the most important component of an effective Cloud deployment is, with the majority (37%) not knowing, 23% seeing it as a network issue, 16% viewing security as most important while 15% viewing success of the Cloud being down to getting the right software in place.

Respondents were also asked what they thought the key end-user benefits of Cloud computing were, and its ability to host IT applications such as MS Office (28%) and voice applications such as hosted PBX (25%) came top, followed by its data backup and storage benefits (22%).

Andy Hollingworth, director of wholesale for Opal, said: “Over the past 12 months our research has shown that one-in-five resellers have shrunk due to the challenging economic conditions. In this climate it is important for channel operators to place the right strategic emphasis on the technology that will drive their business forward and open new revenue streams, and Cloud computing could provide the answer.

“Working with partners we are starting to change perceptions of cloud computing among end users who can see that with the right network infrastructure in place the huge benefits of cloud-based applications and storage can be realised. While the research highlighted that many thought success of the Cloud is down to the right software and security, a resilient Next Generation Network is the essential foundation for this important technology.

“The Cloud really is at the hub of channel activity, and vendors across the full range of IT and telecoms services are vying to take ownership. There is an opportunity to seize, and it’s absolutely key for channel partners to understand The Cloud and what business benefits it can offer customers before they are left behind.”