IT industry channel companies are caught up in a dichotomy over where cloud computing fits into their business, according to new research from CompTIA, the non-profit association for the technology industry.

Nearly 40% of the 350 U.S.-based channel companies surveyed online for CompTIA’s Sixth Annual State of the Channel report in July 2016 said cloud computing is the number one reason to be optimistic about the channel’s future.

At the same time, cloud computing is one of the main reasons that one third of channel companies surveyed are thinking negatively about the days ahead.

“The channel still isn’t 100% comfortable with cloud; in fact, they are less sure than they were two years ago,” said Carolyn April, senior director, industry analysis, at CompTIA. After several years of aggressive cloud activity, the channel seems to be undergoing a reality check, April said.

“As the channel has had more experience working with the cloud, they’ve seen the problem areas, tempered their expectations around cost and return on investment and are now in the ‘refinement’ phase,” April said. “It demonstrates that the channel’s shift to the cloud is not a linear, evenly-paced march, but more a case of two steps forward, one step back.”

The channel’s complex relationship with the cloud is evidenced in its perceived impact on dealings with customers. Some 60% of channel companies said the cloud has strengthened their bonds with customers this year, down from 70% two years ago. About one-quarter think the cloud has weakened ties to customers, up from 17% in 2014.

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