Top 10 Tips to Improve Your Managed Services Sales ProcessThe Ingram Micro Cloud Summit is wrapping up in Dallas today. Roughly 250 VARs and managed services providers attended the conference. So what were the key takeaways? And better yet... what rumors surfaced behind the scenes? Here are some observations from MSPmentor.

The top nine highlights include:

1. Cloud Hosting Is Like A Hotel: Pay by the night and everything is taken care of for you, asserted Lew Moorman, president and chief cloud strategy officer at Rackspace Hosted.

2. Emerging Partnerships: As expected, Ingram announced cloud relationships with Amazon.com, Rackspace and Salesforce.com. And I hear more moves involving Ingram and Salesforce.com could be coming...

3. No Monopoly: Saleforce.com's Peter Coffee predicted that there will be no Microsoft of the cloud. In other words, no single company in the cloud will generate the type of market dominance that Microsoft enjoyed on the desktop, Coffee asserted.

4. Market Shift: Roughly 10 percent of servers are in the cloud right now. That figure will shift to 50 percent by 2015, Rackspace's Moorman predicted (sorry, I didn't catch Moorman's source for the data point).

5. Reliability: There will be hiccups. But cloud vs. on-premise is like airplanes vs. cars. Airplanes are more reliable but make headlines when there's an accident. The case is similar with cloud computing, asserted Moorman.

6. Changing Teams: Sun Java veteran Matt Thompson is now an evangelist for Microsoft's cloud effort. He says roughly 140 new applications debut on the Windows Azure cloud per hour. "We're betting the company on the cloud," said Thompson. "If I didn't believe it I would have gone to one of 25 cloud start-ups."

7. Public vs. Private Cloud: Several speakers dismissed private cloud opportunities. But Microsoft made the case that private clouds will be a bigger opportunity than public clouds.

A case in point: More than 10,000 customers now leverage Microsoft's Windows Azure public cloud platform. But Microsoft evangelist Matt Thompson says the broader strategy is to take Azure's core technology and make it available via on-premises Windows servers, SQL Server deployments and

8. Groundhog Day: Build your brand. Build your sales team. Hire some vertical market expertise. On one hand, I'm tired of hearing those messages. On the other hand, the messages remain true for VARs and MSPs heading toward the cloud.

9. The Dumb Money Has Entered the Cloud: Microsoft's Thompson said VCs are now making pumping "dumb money" into cloud start-ups. In other words, VCs are hooked on the cloud hype but many VCs were late to the table and are now making wild bets that may not pay off.

10. What I Still Need to Check Out: I missed several breakout sessions today from a range of vendors. Although I couldn't be two (three, or four...) places at once, I plant to catch up with some of those presenters tonight.

More thoughts soon. Thanks for reading.

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