Instead of expecting to generate big profits directly from Office 365, VARs should focus on building cloud integration business practices while also exploring application-centric opportunities. On the one hand, those recommendations are fairly obvious. But on the other hand, the comments addressed the elephant in the room during a cloud road show hosted by HP and Axcient in New York last week.

The comments, which I'm paraphrasing, came from long-time VAR and guest speaker Howard M. Cohen. He told a room of roughly 100 VARs that Office 365 profit margins are too low to generate real wealth for partners. But Cohen still saw real opportunity to advise customers on IT decisions going forward -- regardless of whether the decision process involved on-premises hardware and software, or cloud services.

Over and over again, Cohen respectfully told attendees not to get caught up in the "cloud" word. Instead, think of how you will deliver applications and services going forward. And cloud is only one of many delivery mechanisms, he noted.