Finding Something Good About 2009

By Carolyn April  |  Print this article Print


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Did the recession render 2009 a total bust? As we celebrate Thanksgiving and set our sights on an improved business climate in 2010, let's take a moment to find some good news from this year.

OK, it's an understatement to say 2009 wasn't exactly a banner year for the economy. The recession hit everybody hard, and the IT industry, including the channel, was no exception. Even as many companies managed to turn quarterly profitsalbeit very modest onesthese came mainly as a result of deep cost-cutting, not revenue generation. And not every business even managed that. Ever-reliable Microsoft, for example, endured its first-ever year-on-year decline, posting an 18 percent drop in profits for fiscal 2009.

And yet, indicators point to a slow turnaround in 2010, with increased IT spending in certain areas such as virtualization, infrastructure and managed services. Folks in the channel that have weathered this recession and continued to invest in their businesses despite the tough times will be positioned well to take advantage of opportunities next year.

Still, 2009 wasn't all a bust. As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, let's take a look back at some of the brighter spots from the year. I'd like to hear your thoughts as well.

1. Managed services
The recession put the brakes on capital expenditures as customers decided to delay large purchases of technology. Not everyone in the channel suffered as a result. MSPs (managed service providers), for example, saw gains. Customers were wooed by MSPs offering to take technology management off their hands while providing predictable monthly pricing.

2. Stimulus package
Yes, I know that government spending is a hot-button issue and many citizens are positively outraged by the sheer amounts heading out the door in Washington. Cash for Clunkers aside, however, a big portion of the $787 billion stimulus package has been earmarked for technology initiatives and investments, especially around public sector engagements and in the health care industry. Savvy solution providers are setting aside the outrage and figuring out how they can get some of that dough.

3. Virtualization
Virtualization is all the rage. The advent of cloud computing and the desire to cut capital expenses and own less hardware has fueled huge amounts of business for channel playersand VMware, Citrix Systems and Microsoftto virtualize their customers' environments. And it's not just server hardware and storage anymore; now virtualization is extended to everything in the data center, most notably applications.

4. Cloud computing
Depending on your viewpoint, the emergence of cloud computing in 2009 is either a bright spot or a sore spot for the channel. We'd like to consider it an opportunity. From a channel perspective, there are a number of business models to choose from: building private clouds on premises for customers, virtualizing customer environments up to a third-party public cloud provider, reselling vendor cloud services, being an agent. The list goes on. Where you fit in really depends on the type of business you run and what your objectives are, but cloud computing is not going to go away. Rather it will open doors for consulting, integration and other high-margin work that only the channel can provide.

5. Windows 7
Microsoft failed miserably with Windows Vista. That's universally agreedeven in Redmond. So this fall when Windows 7 finally rolled out there was a big sigh of relief when the reviews were largely quite positive, both for the OS itself and for Microsoft's channel enablement and training prior to launch. Windows 7 sales have been fairly brisk thus far and looking ahead into next year are likely to accelerate as companies face the fact that they must refresh their aging, no-longer-under-warranty PC fleets.

One of the worst business years ever, to be sure. But some good trends emerged. I know there have to be more bright spots. Please write in and share something you found positive about 2009 in the channel.

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