Tech Data (NASDAQ: TECD), the IT distributor, is set to host a cloud summit in early (Jan. 9-11, Tampa, Fla.) The event, hosted by Tech Data's TDCloud team, is one of the Top 100 Channel Partner Events worth tracking for 2013.

This will be Tech Data's first cloud summit. It is designed to educate VARs and MSPs about emerging cloud services and recurring revenue opportunities. The company has spent the past year or so building TDCloud, an online platform that allows VARs and MSPs to source various cloud services -- storage, security, hosted email, etc. -- for their end-customers.

Tech Data, like many traditional IT distributors, has been working to extend its expertise from on-premises product sourcing to cloud servies procurement, activiation, aggregation and more. Other examples include Arrow Cloud Services, Avnet Cloud Solutions, Ingram Micro Cloud and Synnex CloudSolv. Of course, MSPs and VARs should closely inspect each strategy since the initiatives and underlying cloud aggregator platforms vary from one distributor to the next.

Tech Data VP of Marketing Stacy Nethercoat (pictured) and Director of Marketing Bharath Natarajan, both of whom focus on cloud computing and software relationships, lead the TDCloud effort. Nethercoat and Natarajan recently attended the Cloud Channel Summit in Silicon Valley, and Natarajan surfaced at last week's Amazon AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas. 

Next Moves

As he looks ahead to 2013, Natarajan said Tech Data now has a cloud playbook ready for VARs and MSPs to leverage. During the cloud summit in January 2013, he expects a workshop-type of conversation to emerge. Among the goals:

  1. Help VARs and MSPs to understand if they have the right technical and operational skills in place for cloud services.
  2. Explore if those channel partners also have the right team members, compensation plans and organization components in place.
  3. Help VARs and MSPs to focus in on doing a few things extremely well. "Don't try to be all things to all people. Pick a few vendors as partners and specialize."

The bottom line: Some on-premises business is going to leak out to the cloud, he said. "You don't want that revenue leaking to someone else," Natarajan said, before advising channel partners to "capture the business and drive cloud consumption."

Through education at the TDCloud summit, Natarajan said, he wants MSPs and VARs to understand their value proposition while gaining shared knowledge through peers.