Channel: What's the Future?

By Sara Driscoll  |  Print this article Print


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Software as a service and partner collaboration are the way forward, a Gartner panel debate reveals.

Crystal balls aside, a serious business question was posed at the kick off panel debate at Gartner Channel Vision 2007 in Palm Springs yesterday: What will the channel look like in 2010?

The panel of experts including executives from Oracle, Microsoft, Ingram and a range of solution providers lead by Gartner research director Tiffani Bova, answered with two main themes: SAAS (software as a service) and partner collaboration.

Rauline Ochs, senior vice president North American alliances and channels at Oracle, stressed the importance SAAS will play in the channel's future.

"We have been pushed by our customers to get SAAS up and running. All of the big software vendors are doing this now, some are further ahead than others, but most are attempting it," she said. "Solution providers should not look at SAAS as a threat to their business model, but as an opportunity with a low barrier to entry. The other thing that customers and partners are pushing us to do is think vertically and provide business problem solutions."

Patrick McNicholas, president and managing partner of Maverick Computer, agreed.

"SAAS is the future. Even if it is not a solution provider's main business now, having it as an element of their business will boost profits and revenues going into 2010."

Bova asked McNicholas why his company had decided to go the 'bill not buy' route for its customers. His answer was simple: "We make more money that way," he said.

Michael Haines, general manager, U.S. partner strategy at Microsoft, said access to technology and marketing going into the future would be challenging. "Partners are scared; they are concerned that there will simply not be enough talent out there to grow their business going forward. They will not be able to recruit to grow," he said.

This would drive more collaboration between partners, he added. "It is vital that partners understand how to partner with each other better, that way they don't have to necessarily recruit; they can effectively share resources."

Justin Crotty, vice president of services North America at Ingram Micro, agreed. He said Ingram has helped to facilitate 90,000 partnerships.

"The independent investment in infrastructure that solution providers are making is unsustainable," he said. "In the future, VARs need to understand that if it is not core to their business then off load it; partner with another VAR to get the job done."

Sara Driscoll began her journalism career at 16 years old on her local newspaper, The Watford Observer. Working part time, she covered a range of beats. Leaving to complete her Journalism Degree at Bournemouth University, UK, Sara then went on to graduate and work for Emap. She began as a reporter on APR, Emap's construction title, being promoted to senior reporter with a year.Sara then joined VNU Business Publications as Deputy News Editor on CRN, the weekly trade title for channel players. She covered industry/business news from vendors, distributors and resellers, product announcements, partner announcements as well as market and trend analysis, research and in depth articles to predict up and coming trends in the sector. She was promoted within a year to News Editor, a year later to Deputy Editor and the following year became Editor. Sara remained editor of CRN for three years, launching the magazine on new platforms including CRN TV and eBooks, as well as several magazine and web site redesigns. She was called on for expert industry comment from various publications including appearing on live BBC news programs. Sara joined Ziff Davis Enterprise as Editor of eWeek Channel Insider. She runs the title in all formats – online up to the minute news, newsletters, emails alerts and events. She also manages the brand of Channel Insider in all formats - events, shows, awards, panel debates and roundtables.Sara can be reached at:sara.driscoll@ziffdavisenterprise.com