Cloud Theory to Cloud Reality: The Importance of Partner Management


Throughout my career at GreenPages I’ve been lucky enough to work with some top-shelf IT leaders. These folks possess many qualities that make them successful – technical smarts, excellent communication skills, inspired leadership, and killer dance moves. Well, at least those first three.

But there’s one skill that’s increasingly critical as more IT shops move from cloud theory to cloud reality: partner management.

IT leaders who effectively and proactively leverage partners will give their organization a competitive advantage during the journey to the cloud. Why? Because smart solution providers accelerate the time needed to research, execute, and support a technology project.

Let’s use the example of building a house. You could learn how to do some drafting on your own, but most folks are more comfortable using the experienced services of an architect who can work with the homeowner on what options are feasible within a given budget and timeframe.

Once you settle on a design, do you interview and manage the foundation contractor, framers, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, roofers, drywallers, painters, and so on? Probably not. Most prefer to hire a general contractor who has relationships with the right people with the right skills, and can coordinate all of the logistics within the design.

Ditto for a technology initiative. Sure, you could attempt that Exchange migration in-house but you’ll probably sleep better having an engineer who has done dozens of similar migrations, can avoid common pitfalls, and can call in reinforcements when needed.

The stakes are even higher for a cloud initiative, for a few reasons. First, we all know that “cloud” is among the most over-marketed tech terms in history. It’s so bad that I’ve asked my marketing team to replace every instance of cloud with “Fluffernutter” just to be unique (no word on that yet). Despite the hype, bona fide “cloud architect” skillsets are few and far between. IT leaders need to make sure their partner’s staff has the skills and track record to qualify, justify, scope, build, and support a Fluff, er, cloud infrastructure.

Second, cloud is such a broad concept that it can be overwhelming trying to figure out where to start. A smart partner will work with you to identify use cases that have been successful for other firms. This can range from a narrowly-focused project such as cloud backup to a full-blown private cloud infrastructure that completely modernizes the role of IT within an organization. The key here is talking to folks who have actually done the work and can speak to the opportunities and challenges.

Now, I’m certainly not suggesting that you don’t do your own independent vetting outside of your partner community. But once your due diligence is done, a great partner can act as an extended part of your team and put much-needed cycles back into your day. IT leaders who are proactive with these relationships will find the payback sweet indeed.