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It is 22 years old. It is the world’s only global technology trade show and it attracts 480,000 visitors and 6,100 exhibitors from around 70 countries. CeBIT in Germany is the last of its kind.  With the death of Comdex it is quite literally the only place where the earth’s IT industry can meet, greet, network and hobnob. 

So why the conference organizers decided to have a separate hall entirely for the channel, and then to call it Planet Reseller, is startling. 

Let us set aside for the moment that this completely separates VARs from the rest of the IT community and implies, albeit with subtlety, that solution providers really are some kind of way-out-there beings from another universe entirely, and focus on the actual hall itself.

The first thing that was evident was the lack of marketing funding spent on the stands and the size of the booths in comparison to the rest of the show. While there were many vendor stands in the VAR hall, many of them were less ordained and glamorous than their main stands in the so-called vendor halls.

Read more about CeBIT here.

More troubling than this obvious lack of marketing funding was the sheer amount of products on display. At least 80 percent seemed to be hardware, everything from flat panels, to keyboards and mice, laptop bags and headphones. There was little evidence of software solutions and worse still there was little evidence of business solutions. 

The channel has developed at a rate of knots over the past several years, changing from a hardware model to software and services, and is now going through another change into a managed services and a monthly revenue model.  And yet this amazing transformation, the ability of the channel to really give competitive advantage to end users through technology and the knowledge of solution providers to solve real business issues was sadly lacking on Planet Reseller. 

It is time the channel gained more confidence to show off about what it has achieved, and indeed its place in the IT community. And it is time that the rest of the community – conference organizers and vendors with their marketing dollars included, stopped trying to separate solution providers from the rest of the pack, and realize that, in fact, VARs are more down to earth than they might like to believe.