The relationship between solution providers and the vendor community has always been a double-edged sword. Solution providers make their living from the simple fact that anything that has any real value to a customer requires the combination of multiple products from different vendors. But at the same time, the fact that vendors are not very good at working with each other in the channel creates a lot of frustration and worse yet, unnecessary cost.

In the meantime, solution providers are delivering increasingly complex offerings to customers that are relying more on them than ever to manage their IT infrastructure. And what solution providers really need is for the vendors to work more closely together to help lower the costs of building and managing IT infrastructure.

Edison Peres, Cisco Systems vice president and chief go-to-market officer for worldwide channels, says what vendors need to focus on is helping solution providers find a borderless approach to IT life cycle management regardless of vendors.

Right now that concept is little more than good intentions that no one in the vendor community is really prepared to execute on. The vast majority of vendor alliances never generate anything more than a press release. And even vendors with the most complementary products find it difficult to execute any kind of joint program that doesn’t require solution providers to sign up for and then manage their participation in multiple channel programs that frequently conflict with each other in terms of how they are structured to compensate partners.

And yet despite all these issues it’s never been more important for vendors to put aside their differences to work together in the channel. There simply are not enough people around to waste time on non-mission-critical activities. That means that solution providers are going to cut loose vendors that they perceive to be raising their costs of doing business unnecessarily. And as that trend continues, you can bet that solution providers will continue pressuring vendors to work more cohesively together, even to the point of unifying their approaches to the channel under common models that should ultimately benefit vendor and partner alike.