At Tech Data (NASDAQ: TECD) TDCloud Partner Summit, nearly 100 VARs and managed services providers (MSPs) are set to discuss cloud services strategies, revenue models and marketing initiatives. TDCloud Director Bharath Natarajan just keynoted, followed by views from CA Technologies, Check Point, HP, IBM, Symantec and VMware. Here's a live blog recap.

Check back often as this article will be updated multiple times as each presentation unfolds.

Recap: Tech Data's Natarajan

  • There are three TDCloud goals for this year -- enable, educate and execute.
  • Roughly four years ago, Tech Data saw potential market changes that "scared" the company. IDC and other market predicters were suggesting private cloud will take 28 percent of the IT budget within a few years. Tech Data had to change.
  • Customers no longer refresh on every software update. 
  • With cloud, customers are always on the latest release.
  • Once you get customers onto your cloud services it's really sticky.
  • In the old days, customers too all the IT risk and spent up-front.
  • At the end of the first year of a cloud service, customers have only spent 10 percent of the total value of what an on-premises solution would have been. Up front that's painful. "If we get there we [the channel] makes money in the long term."
  • In response, Tech Data developed the Cloud Playbook, which includes four components.
  • First, every playbook needs Technology Enablers (automated recurring billing, APIs for instant provisioning, etc.). Tech Data invested "tens of millions of dollars" in SAP and StreamOne to build out its next-generation IT platforms for partners, including TDCloud.
  • Second, every playbook needs People and Expertise. Recruit and train cloud solution expert. If there's a $2,000 monthly cloud deal or the $100,000 on-premises server deal, you need to really think about compensation models to make sure cloud deals get closed. The cloud is like soccer: We're starting to figure out where each of us belongs on the field, rather than crowding the ball like amateurs.
  • Third, every playbook needs Vendor Readiness and Enablement. Tech Data is vetting solutions for channel partners. Selected vendors have to (A) have strong cloud products and (B) a deep respect for the channel. Side note: Keep an eye on Big Data and the cloud, he noted.
  • Fourth, every playbook needs Customer Enablement: There have to be education programs, bundles, and a community to inspire thought leadership.
  • Archiving, data storage and email are the top first-moves to the cloud.
  • "Get ready for five years of hybrid cloud technology. After that, we'll just talk about cloud as IT."
  • StreamOne (Tech Data's underlying IT technology) is an IT system and he conceded it's not perfect. But the real value of TDCloud is to help partners solve end-user needs with solutions that scale.

Morning Presentations: CA, Check Point

  • CA Technologies representatives are talking up ARCserve r16, including integration with Amazon.com, Windows Azure, Eucalyptus and more. Side note: I'm not sure if Tech Data has relationships with CA's growing cloud and managed services solutions -- such as CA Nimsoft and AppLogic. It would have been great to hear about the bigger CA strategy in addition to the ARCserve product specifics.
  • Check Point: Keep an eye on the company's VSX technology, as Check Point offers both physical and virtual firewalls.

HP Talks OpenStack... And More

  • Representing HP is John Robinson, a CloudSystem Sales SE. The four cloud benedits are faster apps development, quicker response times, rapid service creation and lower costs. (Not sure I agree with the lower-cost piece.) 
  • HP sees four IT opportunities -- traditional, public cloud, private cloud and managed cloud. The bigger picture, he reinforced, involves HP Convered Cloud Solutions. Good to hear some background on the HP public cloud.
  • Question from the audience: A VAR asked if HP would offer hardware as a service (HaaS) on-premises. Robinson said no-such plans are in place. In addition to HP's own public cloud, he mentioned Savvis a few times.
  • Another attendee asked about HP-UX in the cloud. Yes, HP offers it. 
  • Another key mention: HP Public Cloud is built on OpenStack. "This is the future of HP. Our public cloud is built on it; our private cloud is moving in that direction."
  • Good to hear Robinson talking about emerging software solutions rather than retrofitting legacy stuff for the cloud. Good OpenStack questions popping up from the audience, asking if you can move workloads between VMware private clouds and HP OpenStack public cloud. Answer: Yes. 

Next Up...

  • IBM Is on-stage right now. I will be speaking with the company off-stage and posting more details later.
  • Symantec offered updates on its ExSP partner program -- which essentially empowers MSPs.
  • VMware: The company continues to be on-message, positioning vCloud as a suite for deploying software-defined datacenters -- either on-premises or out in a cloud.
  • Nicira, for network virtualization, is a huge bet for the company. The VMware representative conceded that the company will wind up competing sometimes with networking companies. She didn't mention Cisco Systems by name. 

What's At Stake

Tech Data, like most major distributors, has been building out a cloud services platform that allows channel partners to source multiple cloud applications -- such as storage, security, hosted email and more. 

The idea is to give channel partners the best of both worlds -- continued on-premises hardware and software sales blended with cloud services. But the journey to this new business model requires new interactions between channel partners and distributors, new sales models, and new support models for end-customers.

Talkin' Cloud will be blogging live from the conference January 10 and 11.