SunGard Availability to use the channel to help reach for the Cloud

Obviously, Cloud Computing is a hot space right now. Just being recognized as a player in the Cloud can instantly boost your market value, and major vendors are lining up to outline their strategies and claim a slice of the market. Forrester projects that the market for Cloud Computing services will increase from about $41 billion in 2011 to $241 billion in 2020.

Earlier this year, Wayne-based Sungard Availablity Services (a unit of Sungard Data Systems) officially unvieled its Enterprise Cloud Service, something it had been putting the pieces in place for over the past couple of years. SunGard Availability, which has about $1.5 billion in annual revenue, historically has provided consulting, managed hosting, storage and recovery services, and business continuity management software. While it had been running some private clouds in a dedicated VMWare environments, this marked the company's formal entry into the multi-tenant Enterprise Cloud services business. The Enterprise Cloud Service is hosted out of SunGard's one million-square-foot datacenter on Spring Garden St. in Philadelphia and another datacenter in Colorado, according to Tier1 Research. It is built on Vblock technology from VMware, Cisco and EMC.

Gartner analyst Tom Bittman recently discussed the role of the channel (sales through partners and resellers) in Cloud Computing, writing that "the channel will be critical in broader adoption of cloud computing (and private cloud), and the channel is not ready to do this. The channel needs to be rebooted".

That is what SunGard is trying to do. It recently announced it is expanding its channel effort, which had not formally existed within the company until about two and 1/2 years ago, to the Enterprise Cloud Service. The channel program, under the direction of Melissa McCoy, Sungard Availability's vice president, Channel Programs, provides sales and marketing resources, training and education, and co-marketing opportunities as well as dedicated channel support. It includes both a Solutions Provider program, which benefits those who incorporate SunGard services into their own solutions, and a Referral program. The channel program applies to all SunGard services, not just Cloud services.

McCoy says sales from the channel program grew 60% last year, and channel-related activities accounted for more than one third of SunGard's new customers. Sungard expects its channel program to eventually contribute more than 10% of total revenue, eChannelLine reports. McCoy emphasizes Sungard's experience in managing sophisticated production environments and its entire portfolio of services, in addition to its Cloud Services, as factors distinguishing it from competitors.