Do you think when the legendary Jerry Garcia sang, “What a long, strange trip it’s been,” he was playing Nostradamus and really talking about the first six months of 2013 as it relates to the IT sector? Do ya? Huh?
Ok, probably not. But nevertheless the first of half of the year has been filled with drama, bold moves and opportunities for solution providers. While many solution providers I speak with are still pissing and moaning about the economy, inflated stock market, tight IT budgets and what ObamaCare will ultimately mean to their businesses going forward, there has been enough going on in the IT space to keep them distracted—from the Dell buyout war with Carl Icahn to surgical acquisitions by SAP and Oracle, to HP's vim and vigor in trying to win back channel loyalty and confidence, to mixed receptions for Microsoft Windows 8. And oh yea, let’s not forget the massive government information leaks and spying campaigns causing every solution provider to reassure and reassess their customer’s data storage, backup, hosting and security strategies.
But so far, putting the challenging business climate aside, this year’s industry-specific developments thus far have been positive for the channel, in my opinion. I’ve already waxed on in this space about the opportunities for SAP channel partners as a result of its deal to buy Hybris to further penetrate into the enterprise e-commerce space. As I previously stated, buying Hybris gets the company there by filling in a missing piece of SAP's enterprise strategy and giving its solution providers more options and resources in this space.
Now Oracle has made another move and has agreed to purchase Tekelec, a provider of network signaling, subscriber data management, and policy control. This comes just a few months after the company agreed to buy Acme Packet building the software giant’s networking capabilities and bolstering its Oracle Communications unit. I am not 100 percent sure of what these moves mean to Oracle’s existing solution provider base but one thing I do know is that it should create more networking and data management options for them. Smart Oracle partners will find a way to position the combined capabilities into a more unified offering for their customers. This is a positive.
Also, HP seems to be recommitting itself to the channel, yet again. Listen, I’ve always rooted for HP to a certain degree. The history, culture and impact it has made on the IT industry and the channel buys the company a lot of grace. However, its management struggles, inconsistent product strategy and financial mess cause fear, loathing and doubt among its partners and customer base. Not good.
However, as The VAR Guy recently reported, the company is making sweeping changes to its PartnerOne channel program, simplifying its membership fee structure, rebates and certifications. HP has been promising to do this for quite some time and with its recent financial struggles, some solution providers were skeptical. But the vendor made good on its word and bought back some channel goodwill, despite its corporate drama. Another positive for solution providers.
Then we still have the Dell soap opera going on. It seems like forever since Dell originally said it wanted to go private. We are now in June and nothing is settled. Overall, whoever—whatever—buys Dell will not matter much to solution providers. What does matter is the current uncertainty because customers don’t like uncertainty.
So with six months in the books of 2013, the solution provider channel is in better shape than it was before the year began as a result of vendor partners making strategic moves that ultimately boost their services business. What will the next six months bring? It’s anyone’s guess, but I can promise you one thing: it won’t be boring.
Knock 'em alive!