Even in a depressed economy, security remains a sure bet for resellers. The need for complete solutions is of increasing urgency as mobility and hybrid clouds dominate the business scene. Small businesses have the same exposure to risk as large business, but must manage it on a reduced budget. Luckily, many vendors are now providing help.
Stories by Brian J Dooley
The channel operates through a web of relationships among resellers, distributors, and vendors. These relationships provide access to products, marketing, and training plus a range of incentives and qualifications that mould the way business is done. The basics have changed little over the past several decades; vendors go direct to resellers or use a distributor as a proxy, establishing contracts for delivery of goods, providing a consistent marketing message, and incentivising sales of their products.
Open source software is available for free, along with its source code, and it has developed its own substantial following since the early days of computing. The best known implementations are in infrastructure areas, with the well-known Linux, Java, and PHP packages. Recently, it has gained added attention due to its central role in cloud IT, and through the growing Linux-based Android ecosystem. There are many open source programs available, and there is major support from companies such as IBM and Red Hat. Well known applications include the Mozilla web browser, LibreOffice, Pentaho, WordPress, Moodle, Drupal, and SugarCRM ; but these are just the tip of the iceberg.
Business resilience is an emerging topic with significant repercussions for resellers, it brings together topics such as governance risk and compliance (GRC), enterprise risk management (ERM), business continuity planning, agility, and others. It is a response to the escalation of the speed of business, increasing integration of digital technologies, and a perception that the threat environment is becoming riskier as natural disasters follow financial malaise. Resilience is the ability to survive a crisis and recover stronger. It is embedded in IT, and is greatly aided by developing virtualisation and cloud environments. For resellers, it represents a new range of possibilities, and potential to form stronger partnerships with clients and vendors.
Open source software has long been lurking in corporate infrastructure, often this is not known by executives outside of IT. It has gone through a long period of maturation, now providing a new range of applications in areas such as ERP and CRM, as well as fuelling the rush to cloud computing.
Managed services are an important part of the evolving cloud computing story, with vendors such as IBM and Hewlett-Packard moving rapidly to supply infrastructure solutions based on long experience in facilities management.
Determining the importance of trends in IT technology is a bit like the Indian fable of the blind men and the elephant. Each of the men senses a part of the animal and draws a conclusion as to what it must be; all of their conclusions are different, and all are wrong, because they can only feel what is closest to them.
Other technology markets may shift and turn, but there is always a need for storage. Data usage and storage requirements continue to grow exponentially, and it all needs to go to disk, with optimal access, security and reliability. Storage vendors today seek to consolidate and integrate silos of storage, confront a wide array of virtualisation issues, and react to the cloud in its many guises - from storage as a service to the massive internal requirements of private clouds.
Interest in business intelligence (BI) and analytics continues to build, as solutions become increasingly powerful, broader in application and easier to access for employees throughout the firm.
Virtualisation lies at the heart of the current evolution of IT infrastructure. Server virtualisation has been demonstrated to provide efficiency and to cut costs in the datacentre. Desktop virtualisation is beginning to change the way in which companies deploy services to users. Both have been evolving rapidly as cloud computing continues to advance and as security, management and deployment issues are addressed.
Predicting the leading trends in ICT is a tricky business at the best of times. Given the economic uncertainties of today, it is even more difficult. Certainly, a great deal depends upon perspective. The trends in enterprise infrastructure are hardly the same as those in consumer telephony, while what is important to a seller of services may be of lesser importance to a seller of boxes.
Software as a service and cloud computing have come together to create a confusing range of vendor offerings that are being billed as the next greatest thing. But as the area evolves it is bringing new opportunities for resellers as well as significant caveats. All of the major vendors are now in some way involved, so it is important to monitor developments closely.
Mobility of employees has increased dramatically over the past several years in response to changes in the workplace and advances in technology. Market categories are continuing to break down, as greater intelligence and network access become available on cellphones. As well, networks are moving toward ubiquitous IP - with increasingly mobile broadband reach through 3G and 4G cellular services, WiMAX, and more powerful wireless LANs.
A Next Generation Network (NGN) combines all services including voice, data and multimedia over a single high-bandwidth IP connection. The trend toward NGN has been going on for some time; both within the public access area, as provided by telecommunication companies, and within the enterprise as data networks carrying Voice over IP (VoIP), along with other services.
The capacity of the average storage device doubles every year, while the cost per megabyte consistently falls. This means the amount of disk storage available is now astounding — yet data storage requirements have largely kept up. Rich media, digitisation of ever widening territories of business and personal data, legal data storage requirements and Web 2.0 applications are all contributors to a data explosion.
Small to medium businesses (SMBs) are massively important to the economy.