Today, Dell chose CenturyLink Cloud for their partner program due to our cloud’s extensive reseller capabilities.  These features, first launched as Tier 3’s Reseller Edition, include account management, APIs, SSO via SAML, extensive re-branding and more (details here and here). CenturyLink’s approach to reseller enablement gives Dell a completely rebranded public cloud offering overnight – no engineering required on their side.

This is big news for us, and we’re excited to be working with Dell.

Now, let’s explore this idea of partnerships for public cloud a little more.

Developers and IT increasingly turn to new-school cloud vendors for their infrastructure.  Common sense on the eve of 2014.  But this shift was not anticipated by most SIs, MSPs, and hardware OEMs 5 years ago.

How have these vendors responded?  The results are mixed.  Many are still refining their cloud strategy, and wrestling with the build, buy, partner calculus.

The industry isn’t sitting still – far from it.  But there’s plenty of time for vendors who missed out on the first wave of cloud to capitalize on the second wave.  But as CenturyLink CTO Jared Wray recently wrote, building cloud is hard.  It takes a specific set of engineering skills that are in high demand.

Consequently, we’re seeing more and more companies kick start their cloud business with the ‘partner’ route. Dell is simply the latest partner to work with us.

Reseller enablement is a key component of CenturyLink’s public cloud strategy, and we’ve learned a great deal from our experiences with PEER 1, Dell and others.

At CenturyLink Cloud, we believe that any provider should be able to launch a public cloud business.  And it should be easy, where newly rebranded services can be ready in days, not months.

That said, what makes a good cloud partner? These are the important elements:

  • Infrastructure services that deliver the agility and self-service business units and developers crave.  This is where many homegrown efforts have failed, by the way.
  • Management functions that give IT the control they require – ticking all the boxes on compliance, security, and governance.  Governance is hard to build; most traditional vendors understand compliance and security quite well.
  • Give customers a path to future, with soon-to-be-mainstream application services like platform as a service.  In a few years, it won’t be about servers or infrastructure at all.  Vendors that will thrive in 3 years help customers understand this, and then help them to plan accordingly.

Most importantly, a cloud partner needs to extend the vendor’s ‘distinctive competence.’ Let’s examine a few of the most common strengths of MSPs, SIs, and hardware OEMs, and how they mesh with cloud.

  1. Expertise in specific applications, business processes, or integrations. Providers should seek clouds with resilient infrastructure that run legacy business apps ‘out of the box.’  In addition, automation and orchestration functions can yield efficiencies when deploying said applications, and when weaving complex cloud environments together.  Existing best practices from pre-cloud can now be cloudy!
  2. Brand and customer experience. In this scenario, the cloud provider must have deep white-label capabilities - beyond basic re-branding – and an ability to link to existing post-sale systems.
  3. Managed services. Clouds with self-service and automation to enable a lucrative managed services play.  If a services team can just as easily manage 500 servers as 5, incredible economies of scale can be achieved.
  4. Geography and geo-specific services. The provider should have global reach, with federated locations in the countries most important to your customers.

Based on a solid foundation of compute, storage, and network – all wrapped into a management layer – providers can begin to engage with customers at more profound level in a way that builds on their unique expertise.

We’re on the cusp of the next wave of cloud - and partnering could be the right option for you.  Want to know more about how CenturyLink Cloud might be able to help? Contact us today!