It’s that time of year when the industry pauses and reflects on what trends have emerged, what new technologies have arrived on the scene, and how business models have evolved. In the spirit of the season, here are three areas that I see continuing to positively impact the IT channel in 2016:
1. Optimism surrounding future of the IT channel and managed services will remain high.
CompTIA’s 5th Annual State of the Channel report, released in October 2015, found that 66 percent of those surveyed were “generally optimistic” about the future of the IT channel. Respondents cited new opportunities presented by cloud computing; robust customer demand for managed services; the continued desire for the IT channel to have “trusted advisor” status; and the broader use of IT by all types of end users.
Based on these findings, I believe that in the coming year the channel will continue to increase its relevance for IT organizations of all sizes. I also believe that IT solution providers will be able to further enhance their ability to drive revenues and sustain their businesses by specializing in technologies such as cloud computing or security, or vertical markets including financial services, healthcare, and the public sector.
2. Vendor consolidation will continue.
To remain competitive in an increasingly crowded marketplace, vendors often look to consolidation, which is currently driving a high level of M&A activity throughout the technology industry, as evidenced by the Dell-EMC announcement earlier this year of a planned merger. The fact is, where an IT solution provider’s portfolio is concerned, less is always more. I would encourage solution providers to continually evaluate their vendor portfolios, especially in light of increasing vendor consolidation. This will help to ensure that they are representing best-of-breed solutions that are both solving their clients’ business challenges and providing them with the opportunity to leverage synergies between their vendor partners to grow their businesses.
3. There will be greater emphasis on protecting data, applications and infrastructure, regardless of location.
Countless high-profile data breaches have kept security top-of-mind for consumers and businesses alike. With an increasing number of organizations relying on the cloud to support their everyday business operations, greater emphasis will continue to be placed on protecting critical data, applications and infrastructure, regardless of whether they’re in the cloud or on-premise. Two areas of data protection that solution providers need to be aware of are:
- Encryption: Military-grade 256-bit AES encryption is the only way to go when it comes to ensuring data security. When coupled with strong encryption in transit, it can provide end-to-end protection of the data while it is being stored and transmitted to and from the data center.
- Redundancy: Storing data in the cloud provides the redundancy businesses need to ensure data protection. For example, when data is stored on-premise there is only one backup copy of the business’ files--a copy that can easily be lost or corrupted due to human error, outages or equipment failure. When data is stored in the cloud, there will always be a copy of the business’s critical data at another location, which makes it faster and easier to restore in the event that technology infrastructure is lost due to flood, fire or theft. Also, by storing data in the cloud, businesses can meet industry compliance regulations--case in point, HIPAA, which requires healthcare organizations and their business associates to ensure redundancy as part of its data protection and security measures.
The coming year holds much promise for the IT channel and technology industry as a whole, and solution providers that closely follow these and other industry trends—and adapt their business models accordingly—will achieve greater success in 2016 and beyond.
Neal Bradbury is Senior Director of Channel Development for cloud-based backup and disaster recovery provider Intronis LLC. Working closely with the company’s MSP partner community and alliance partners, he is responsible for generating greater business value for the company’s MSP partner community and alliance partners. Guest blogs such as this one are published monthly and are part of MSPmentor's annual platinum sponsorship.