Are you an MSP, VAR, or systems integrator? Do you want to start offering cloud services to upsell existing customers, while attracting new ones? CenturyLink Cloud is here to help. Last week, we announced a Reseller Edition of our cloud and we offer unique expertise in partnering with companies that want to quickly add cloud services to their product portfolio. In this blog post, we’ll walk through 8 quick steps to follow in order to get up and running as a cloud reseller.

1. Investigate the market and select a reseller.

We recently did a reseller-focused webcast with the folks at Talkin’ Cloud and a spot survey showed that over 75% of attendees were actively looking for a cloud partner. Clearly, a large number of telcos, SIs, and regional service providers are scouring the market and aggressively assessing whom to partner with.

If you are looking for a partner, what should you be asking each vendor? How can you ensure you are partnering with an innovative, differentiated provider that can bring you new revenue over the long-haul? Here’s a great starting point:

Does the provider have a global set of data centers?

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT: Your customers are more global than ever, and physical locations close to users and customers matter. Also, data sovereignty regulations impact where the physical “host” servers need to be.

Can the provider support the complex infrastructure and networking needs of your managed customers?

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT: If not, there’s a good chance your customers won’t find your new cloud services attractive for their enterprise workloads.

How often to legacy systems need to be re-architected to fit the provider’s cloud?

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT: Agility and immediate access to resources are key drivers to move to the cloud in the first place. But this doesn’t need to be at odds with legacy applications - even complex environments can be migrated cleanly to the cloud if you choose the right provider.

What controls do you have in place to protect data sovereignty?

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT: Larger businesses need peace of mind to know their data is securely stored in isolation, in a physical location they can specify.

Which 3rd party products are commonly added by the provider’s customers, if any?

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT: Add-on services can be helpful for specific scenarios, but when it comes to the core scenarios of cloud management and automation, you should look for a provider that has significant capabilities built-in. Bringing in extra modules just adds cost and complexity for you and your customers.

How does the partner manage customer accounts and billing processes?

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT: These back-office functions are vital when it comes to quickly monetizing the service. Sure, it’s not a sexy set of features, but it will make invoicing a breeze.

Can I rebrand the provider’s offering and make it look and feel like something from us? Does this feature cost extra?

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT: This is key to customer loyalty and building brand equity.

How do I make money with your cloud?

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT: Powerful features and a highly capable global cloud platform don’t mean anything without a competitive partner program, and a spirit of partnership with your selected vendor.

How can I extend my business model of value-added services to the provider’s cloud?

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT: This last question is key. How can you make sure that customers don’t just use a commodity cloud offering, eliminating your unique expertise? Among other things, CenturyLink Cloud encourages customers to differentiate on price and by offering exclusive intellectual property through Blueprints that encapsulate best practices on building highly-available, tuned application environments.

2. Evaluate CenturyLink Cloud - sign up for an account.

This one’s easy! Just visit the self-service sign up page and register for a new CenturyLink Cloud account.  Within moments, you will receive an email with temporary credentials and a link to the easy-to-use CenturyLink Cloud Control Portal.

3. Change the site aesthetics to fit your brand.

Once you’ve logged in, the first thing to do is customize the Control Portal UI to match your brand. CenturyLink Cloud offers a variety of settings that allow you to rename the interface, modify logos and shortcut icons, and alter the color scheme of the site. These superficial – but important – changes go a long way to maintaining a brand identity with your customers.

CenturyLink Cloud Portal Rebranding

4. Update the support-related hyperlinks.

Your will likely want your customers to take advantage of the support experience that you currently offer. Fortunately, you can easily override existing support links and point to your own online assets. For instance, you can change the default support email address, phone number, knowledge base URL, chat service URL, and much more.

CenturyLink Cloud Portal Rebranding

5. Update outbound email templates.

Each email that comes from the cloud platform should reflect your brand and message. To achieve this, CenturyLink Cloud added configurable settings that let you change the email addresses, signature, subject lines, and message body of the most common system alerts.

CenturyLink Cloud Portal Rebranding

6. Integrate with your existing billing, configuration management, and identity systems.

Unless you want to build a silo cloud service that doesn’t integrate with the rest of your back office systems, you’ll want to pay careful attention to this  step! To integrate your billing systems with CenturyLink Cloud, consider using our helpful Billing API that gives you access to usage estimates and monthly invoices. While you can easily access and download invoices from the CenturyLink Cloud Control Portal, the Billing API gives you a way to directly integrate our cloud with your financial systems.

Many organizations have investments in change management or support systems that track assets throughout their lifecycle. How can you ensure that servers in the CenturyLink Cloud cloud are properly “tagged” and linked to a configuration management database? One useful option is to add account-level “custom fields” that are populated whenever servers are added to the CenturyLink Cloud cloud.

CenturyLink Cloud Portal Rebranding

You can access these custom field values through the CenturyLink Cloud API as well. If you chose to provision servers from within your own custom portal, you could call the Create Server API and tag the server with an identifier from your own system. This makes it simple to reconcile changes to servers in the CenturyLink Cloud cloud with the entries in your local systems.

Finally, if you offer a centralized identity directory to authenticate users of your existing platform, you may want to reuse that with the CenturyLink Cloud cloud. CenturyLink Cloud supports the SAML identity protocol for single sign-on between external identity directories and the CenturyLink Cloud Control Portal. Consider SAML and SSO if you want to make it simple for customers to reuse their existing credentials to log into the CenturyLink Cloud Control Portal.

7. Choose your preferred data centers.

You’re nearly ready to open the doors of your new cloud offering! In this step, assess which data centers you want customers to deploy servers into. The “Preferred Data Centers” settings let you choose which data centers show up for users who provision and manage servers.

CenturyLink Cloud Portal Rebranding

8. Establish cloud costs and promotions.

While you likely established contractual settings early on, this final step involves configuring pricing details in the platform. We offer a very competitive pricing plan that ensures that you can generate a strong recurring revenue stream while giving customers a cost-effective cloud solution. Contract terms and promotion codes are managed by CenturyLink Cloud but we work closely with you to rapidly apply pricing parameters to your account.

Summary

The cloud offers a compelling and lucrative opportunity for existing managed service providers and systems integrators. Instead of building and maintaining your own cloud, consider partnering with CenturyLink Cloud and bringing cloud services online in a matter of days or weeks!