One of the biggest complaints from sceptics is that many of the supposedly innovative cloud offerings actually represent nothing new.

Although cast as revolutionary by marketing departments, the distributed model of computing has a long history in IT and strong similarities can be traced between the development of the cloud and the traditional client-server model. The evolutionary nature of utility computing, however, is just the tip of the iceberg.

While it is bad enough that some vendors seem to talk as if the cloud simply appeared by magic yesterday, others are more cunning and simply re-badge existing applications and services as on-demand technology. It is a cynical tactic and one that experts can see potentially continuing in the future with some high profile examples (see further reading, below).

In fact, a group that has quickly jumped on the cloud bandwagon are computer resellers, who are not known for their shyness in spotting a potential sales opportunity. This group are finding ways to use the channel as a means to exploit the cloud. It is noticeable that resellers are being actively encouraged to start selling hybrid cloud solutions now (see further reading).

The explanation for the sudden interest from the channel is simple: resellers are looking at the cloud as the next way to make money. Tough economic conditions mean margins are forever being squeezed and businesses are looking to remove capital expenditure, especially hardware.

But are resellers really the best way to take advantage of the economies of scale associated with the cloud? Some experts believe that the hybrid cloud model will exist for the next few years as customers move slowly and shift certain applications to the cloud.

Yet resellers provide just one potential route to market and, by no means, the most expert-rich. Of course, there will be some knowledgeable and reliable cloud providers within the channel but how many can be considered true experts? The cloud, although a careful evolution of existing IT models, still represents a new and significant test for an organisation that has traditionally opted to keep most IT in-house.

In an age of IT innovation, would you rather risk a jack-of-all trades cloud provider or aim to go with a master that really understands utility computing? End users must steer well clear of cloud providers that are looking to make a quick buck and work with proven service providers who can guide and support the business.