Cloud Channel Re-engineering (CCR)


In the past I’ve written about the networked social nature of ecosystems and especially cloud ecosystems. I am writing a channel program development guideline for Azure based cloud offerings and it helps me do a first draft in blog format… so any feedback would be appreciated!

What is a cloud? A cloud is virtual framework with a unified operating system and database, with access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources. To use a construction analogy, Azure is like an upscale sub-division with basic infrastructure, utilities and plenty of empty lots to build your house on.

So what’s the difference between a private and a public cloud? Again let’s use a municipal planning analogy. A public cloud is like a planned community with the city running it. Home owners don’t actually own their land, but rather rent the land from the city, which in return collects a fee for the land use. A private cloud is more like a gated community with property management company from which the home owners rent their land. More importantly, both examples are communities of people. I would claim that it is not the homes that make a community, but the people that live in them.

Now what would be another word for a community of people? Let’s call it a social network of individuals and in the sense of a business community, through individuals, a network of companies (legal entities).

But couldn’t that same thought trail be used in the case of on-premise solutions? Yes, but social networks are stronger when it’s members share more attributes; they all share a passion/hobby or in the case of a cloud community a common platform.

Imagine looking a three dimensional illustration of a cloud community. The bottom layer is the infrastructure. Then you have the platform and database layers. On top of that we lay the core application layer, which would be Microsoft Online offerings. On top of that we lay layers of cross functional workflows and value adding partner applications. Now we can take one of two paths of examination: we can look at the users of the applications or we can look at the application vendors, their key personnel and relationships. I promise that I will take this analogy down the application user path, but for the purposes of this article I’ll focus on the application vendors.

So let’s drop a layer (almost a translucent skin) with vendor brand logos on top of the stack of layers. That is one side to the ecosystem. If we focus our attention only one application vendor we can lay on top a layer channel partners. On top of the channel partners a layer of end customers and their value chains. On top of the end customers and their value chains we could add a layer of application users and we’ve essentially moved past the fork after the application vendor layer onto the application user layer.

If you can visualize the above layered three dimensional cloud ecosystem model in your minds eye you can start to logically examine how to operationalize your vendor strategy in terms of segmentation, value propositioning, channels, technology partnering, etc. This is nothing new. Business consultants have used the same logical process in business process reengineering for decades. If you cannot visualize your processes and their interdependencies, then how can you hope to optimize it?

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