Larry Bodie PhotoOur look at MSPmentor 250 leaders resumes today after a short hiatus throughout the madness of VMworld 2011 last week. Today, we put the spotlight on Claris Networks President and CEO Larry Bodie. And he has a clear message for readers: Now is the time for MSPs to embrace the cloud.

Bodie began working as a sub-contractor for Claris Networks in 2007 before becoming chief financial officer (CFO) and chief operating officer (COO) in 2008. He became Claris Networks CEO in March 2009 and has since helped the company blend its managed services and virtualization solutions into a single managed services cloud offering.

"We really figured out how to package the cloud in 2008," Bodie said. But we called it a secure suite, not cloud." Even after the development of its secure suite, Claris was still having trouble selling its solutions. The reason: Claris offered too many options, which slowed down customer decisions. So Bodie and the Claris team settled on its current per-use model to make the service easier for customers to consume. "That was the changing point for us," he said. "That's when sales really took off."

Bodie credits the per-use model for the company's growth from 25 employees in 2009 to over 50 today. He also points to the company's long history of cloud development as a key to Claris' success. Claris built its own cloud in 2005 and still operates its own cloud network today instead of buying cloud capacity from a third party provider. "It's expensive," Bodie said, "But at least I'm in control of it."

More recently, Claris Networks has launched cloud environments in London and Tokyo. And the company acquired Chattanooga, Tenn.-based SRC technologies this year to expand its regional footprint.

So where does Bodie see the MSP industry heading? "I see that MSPs embracing the cloud tend to be stickier," he said -- meaning that cloud services help MSPs to retain customers.

Bodie attended VMworld 2011 in Las Vegas last week and was overwhelmed by the number of cloud providers on hand. "The cloud is everywhere, literally," Bodie added. "We [MSPs] need to be talking about how to become cloud integrators. When you talk about the future, it's going to be about helping customer figure out which cloud services work for them."