On the one hand, Avnet Technology Solutions is launching CloudReady, which strives to prepare VARs and managed services providers for cloud-centric business opportunities. But on the other hand, distribution executives like Avnet CEO Roy Vallee and Tech Data CEO Robert Dutkowsky caution channel partners not to get too caught up in cloud hype. Here are cloud insights from both executives, each of whom attended the Global Technology Distribution Council gathering in New York yesterday.

First, the basic news: Avnet Technology Solutions says its CloudReady initiative will include executive education, financing, professional services and specific cloud computing solutions for VARs. The effort will also include opportunities involving Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) cloud solutions.

Phil Gallagher, president of Avnet Technology Solutions, says there's a possibility the value-added distributor will also  introduce a so-called CloudPath option for partners -- similar to the existing HealthPath, GovPath and other "path" approaches that Avnet Technology Solutions already offers.

Reality Check

Still, it's important to keep the cloud chatter in perspective. During a Global Technology Distribution Council gathering in New York yesterday, several distribution executives said they are watching the cloud market closely and responding accordingly -- but many of the executives cautioned VARs not to buy into hype. Even Avnet CEO Roy A. Vallee offered a reality check -- the very day Avnet Technology Services was launching CloudReady.

"Right now, cloud is not a big, important part of the business today but we fully realize it has potential to be strategic tomorrow," said Vallee. "We're making some bets. It's the second or third inning of cloud computing and we'll feel our way around the cloud. But it may be two to four years before this story really plays out."

Several Avnet rivals offered similar thoughts. Robert Dutkowsky, CEO of Tech Data, thinks VARs need to avoid cloud hype and focus on the other end of the market -- so-called ProSumer (Professional Consumer) opportunities involving intelligent mobile devices that need to be managed and also require secure, reliable network connectivity. "We have our toe in the water on SaaS. And there's industry talk about hardware as a service," said Dutkowsky. "But I think HaaS is hype. We live in the 'here and now' and we make a penny on every dollar, so we have to be pragmatic. As the consumer sets the agenda, it plays to our strengths as a broadline distributor."

Instead of hyping cloud, many of the distributors attending the Global Technology Distribution Council conference mentioned their decision to work more closely with Cisco Systems -- a potential indication that Cisco's Unified Computing System (UCS, which combines networking, storage and servers) is catching on with customers.

Still, a few distributors are making larger strategic SaaS and cloud bets. Among them: Ingram Micro and Synnex. We'll be back later today with more thoughts from those two distributors, among others.

Additional reporting by David Courbanou. Sign up for MSPmentor’s weekly Enewsletter, Webcasts and Resource Center. And follow us via RSS; Facebook; Identi.ca; and Twitter. Plus, check out more MSP voices at www.MSPtweet.com.