Worlds Collide at Channel Summit

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print


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Green technology and managed services were the big topics at the event. Can a symbiotic relationship be built between the two that benefits all involved?

At the Ziff Davis Enterprise Channel Summit in Dallas on Feb. 7, a great deal of interest was generated around two very topical subjects: green technology and managed services. For the most part, the discussions were cordial in nature, but some VARs did express some serious doubts about the motivation behind each of those technologies.

First off, a number of VARs felt that "green" was just the latest buzzword and most business would only go the green route if savings could be generated in the near term. In other words, the majority of businesses won’t be "greening" their data centers just to be on the green bandwagon! That said, many of the VARs felt that if a data center is being re-engineered anyway, then there is an opportunity for selling green technology.

Interestingly, there really seems to be little opportunity to apply green technology to the small business, a segment that could really appreciate the savings. After all, a small business owner would notice a $50 or so savings on the electric bill, while a CEO of a Fortune 1000 might not notice a savings of $5,000 or more on the corporate electricity bill.

Managed services seem to follow a different train of thought. Some VARs said that becoming an MSP is not the answer to servicing their small business customers and that the services offered are on the verge of becoming a commodity. Yet, there were others who have made the transition from the typical VAR to the uber-VAR by jumping on the managed services merry-go-round.

Even so, both green technology and MSP offerings proved to be subjects of a contentious nature, with few agreeing on much of anything, except that both technologies will only experience growth in the future.

While at first blush, both managed services and green technology seem like they should be at different ends of the technology spectrum, there is a major opportunity for synergy here, especially for VARs servicing the small business customer. The question comes down to this: What is the best way for a small business to reduce its power footprint while also reducing hardware and service costs?

If a VAR was to set up as an MSP offering hosted services, software as a service and remote management, the reduction in power and hardware costs to the customer could be substantial. Big businesses have tackled the very same issues by using co-location providers; why not apply the same concepts to the small business market? The advantages are many here. Customers can "green" their IT needs by eliminating their server closets and the associated hardware; a fast broadband connection with a router becomes their primary means of accessing their applications and data. VARs can charge for the basic services, storage needed, support and many other elements on a per-seat charge and build a long-term relationship with customers with ongoing revenue.

And the sales process should become easier because the VAR is counting on the customer’s desire to save energy, become greener and experience better service as the primary driver for the change. It shifts all of the arguments against MSP-based solutions to the background and helps to build a relationship that is good for the environment and is collaborative in nature (pun intended)!

So instead of looking at all the perceived negatives of green technology and MSP services, perhaps the time has come to rethink how VARs deal with small businesses and capitalize on their needs.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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