Tech Data (TECD) is announcing new cloud computing partnerships today during the TDCloud Summit in Tampa. Chief among them: A new relationship with Carbonite, a Top 100 Cloud Services Provider that works closely with small business VARs. Also on tap for the conference: Cloud updates from Microsoft, IBM SmartCloud, Symantec.cloud and VMware. Here's the live blog.

On Stage Today: Recaps for Each Speaker Coming Soon.

Joe Quaglia, senior VP, U.S. Marketing, President, TDMobility, Tech Data

  • Quaglia recapped how Tech Data has built out its TDCloud strategy, noting that the company was not the first distributor to offer cloud solutions. Instead, Tech Data took its time "three or four years ago" and evolved and adapted as the market evolved.
  • "Change means opportunity. And we're only getting started." 
  • Tech Data is closely vetting its cloud vendor partners, essentially rejecting nine out of 10 proposals to make sure only the best solutions surface in TDCloud.

Bharath Natarajan, director, TDCloud Specialized Business Unit, Tech Data

  • Three most recent partnerships include AirVM, Brainshark and Carbonite.
  • TDCloud's mission: "Build the best turnkey cloud business for channel partners."
  • What Tech Data brings to the table: Cloud consultants, presales support, strategic bundles, comprehensive line card, executive cloud training, cloud marketplace and recurring billing.

Microsoft Cloud Update

  • Keep an eye on the Office 365 Open partner program, which will gain about 14 partner enhancements on Sept. 1.
  • The revised Office 365 Open program offers significantly higher margins than the traditional Advisor program.
  • It sounds like Government and Education offerings also are coming Sept. 1 as well.

IBM SmartCloud Computing

  • The company is talking up IBM SmartCloud for Social Business -- with an emphasis on SmartCloud Docs -- an alternative to Google Docs.
  • IBM claims to have 2 million cloud users worldwide. I'm not sure which IBM cloud applications that figure represents.
  • IBM's SmartCloud partner program allows for customizable billing approaches, such as monthly or quarterly.

Symantec Cloud Services

  • The big pitch here is Symantec Endpoint Protection 2013 with a cloud-based management console.
  • Some features are only available in the cloud, such as USB device control.
  • Why upgrade? The key answer: No servers to upgrade. But you can future-proof by starting with on-premises management and shifting to cloud-based management.
  • A Symantec Partner Management Console for security and storage is multi-tenant, allowing MSPs to manage multiple customers through a single cloud dashboard.

The Future of Data Centers

  • Fantastic presentation from Donald Smith, Wesley Clover, an investor in various IT companies.
  • I was too busy listening to take detailed notes. This is a guy who understands how to explain the big-picture cloud trend and the fact that it's unstoppable.  
  • The core message from Smith: Massive data centers are being built on open technologies.
  • Companies like Google buy components -- not full-blown servers -- and build their own servers.
  • Traditional server sales are falling and will fall faster than market researchers predict.
  • Most partners can't afford to compete in the data center market. Instead, VARs and MSPs should work through distributors to plug into clouds.
  • Sorry I didn't capture all the great info from the presentation. 

Mercer Rowe, senior director, vCloud Hybrid Service, VMware

  • Hybrid Cloud is the software defined data center realized
  • The goal is for customers to run any application, any place with no changes
  • VMware is the standard in IaaS, he insisted
  • Eight times more workloads run on VMware vs. Amazon
  • 90 percent of VMs are not yet in the cloud
  • Partners own pricing, billing and services
  • Coming soon: Subscription business enabled, sales enabled and service delivery enabled offerings from VMware.
  • Bottom line: He gave a compelling presentation on why VMware is the cloud leader and partner leader over Amazon and Microsoft.
  • I'm not saying I agree with all of his points, but if Rowe was a lawyer in a court room, I suspect the jury would consider his statements credible. 
  • PS: Watch and listen closely for major vCloud updates at VMworld 2013 in late August.

Terry Hedden, president, Zeno Technology Solutions

  • He has built and sold multiple IT service provider and MSP companies
  • Hedden shared eight secrets to success in the IT service provider market

The eight secrets:

  1. Build your business with the end in mind: Are you building a lifestyle business or a true business that won't need you to be successful? Are you looking to sell the business down the road? Do you want to raise money? If you answer yes to any of those, then you need to focus on profits. Seek EBITDA of 10%, 20% or even 30%. Have enough capital for both the business and personal life when you start.
  2. Know yourself, hire what you are not: You can't be great at everything. Hire to fill the voids in finance, sales, marketing, service, etc.
  3. Invest in your foundation: Focus on PSA (professional services automation) infrastructure like Autotask or ConnectWise to help automate your business. And leverage RMM (remote monitoring and management) to remotely manage systems. And don't forget finance/accounting systems and your web site.
  4. Work "On" yourself and fix the gaps: If your goal is to be CEO and you're an engineer launching the company, then work on the required CEO skills. Understand how to sell your vision to your team.
  5. Don't be afraid to innovate: Embrace the cloud. "Embrace the cloud in a way that suggests it's critical to your survival -- because it is."
  6. Partner: Work with partners to deliver the right solutions. During a first customer meeting, talk about customer pain and problems. That's all. Then partner up to solve the problems.
  7. Implement Marketing Best Practices: Marketing gets you in the door for sales meetings. Focus on the right website, SEO and SEM, social media, newsletters and email, demand generation events, direct mail and PR. Do every piece every month even better.
  8. Bummer: I had to exit the session for a conference call. I will check in with Terry to find out what point 8 was...

Check back multiple times for continued updates.