2012 Vendor Moves: Good or Bad for Solution Providers?
Last week we took a hard look at the current business environment both in the United States and globally, and mapped it back to what it means for solution providers. The general consensus is that although business conditions are tough and organizations of all sizes are watching every penny, they are still investing in technologies that will give keep them competitive, deliver better customer service and create efficiencies. This so far has been good for most solution providers, creating opportunity in 2012.
Now let’s evaluate some of the major vendor moves that have occurred this year and see where they put the channel. I am not going to go through every merger, upgrade and new product announcement; rather, I’m only but touching on the ones I believe have the potential to impact solution providers the most, either negatively or positively. And it really comes down to three players — Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) and Hewlett-Packard (HP) (NYSE: HPQ). You can argue with me all you want and are free to have your own opinion, but it’s like debating the top 100 rock songs of all time — there are no real right answers.
Microsoft: Windows 8 and Surface
The official release of Microsoft’s long-awaited operating system upgrade is around the corner. It is promising to be one of the most significant upgrades in the software giant’s history, not only promising better user experience but, more importantly, addressing the exploding tablet market.
Now some will argue that the tablet market is already ultra-competitive and users already have their preferences whether it be the Apple iPad or Google’s Android. And that is fair. However, what I’ve seen after 20-plus years covering the channel is that businesses go gaga over Microsoft upgrades and plan their IT spending accordingly. Windows 8 will be adopted by SMBs. Windows 8 will be adopted in the enterprise. And I believe Microsoft’s Surface tablet will make inroads more easily than some Mac enthusiasts and technology writers would have you believe. All this spells opportunity for solution providers, which are deeply embedded into Microsoft’s road map. So yes, this is good news for the channel all around.
Dell’s Acquisition Appetite
It doesn’t seem to be ending any time soon. Dell is working overtime trying to shift the focus of its company away from hardware and more on services — networking, cloud, mobility, virtualization, etc.. It’s gobbled up SonicWall, AppAssure, Clarity Solutions, Force10, Make Technologies, Wyse Technology, and now has a deal to buy Quest. Did I get them all? Some of these were announced last year but closed this year. Some were announced this year. Quest is obviously pending. Who can keep track?
The point here is Michael Dell has publicly stated he wants Dell to be known as a major services organization with specific expertise. It just so happens that this expertise will be competing head-to-head with the channel. I know Dell executives have been giving the channel a lot of face time and support lately. The VAR Guy has been shadowing these executive as they address solution providers in New York and California, and that is good business. However, Dell is still a competitor. The more sophisticated solution providers out there get that and don’t really care what business Dell ventures into because their own customer relationships are secure. So, overall, Dell’s recent channel face time is good but its acquisition strategy is something to be concerned about. The vendor will take any business direct it can. Period.
Will The Real HP Please Stand Up?
I’m running of room here so let me just briefly mention HP — it’s in the PC business. It’s out of the PC business. It’s back in the PC business. Its top Printing and Personal Systems group leaders are playing musical chairs. Some top executives have also abandoned ship. The company is cutting 27,000 employees over the next two years. This instability and uncertainty spells bad news for the vendor and its channel partners. SPs are dealing with enough confusion with the economy, IT spending, constant security threats and what impact ObamaCare will have on running their business next year. They don’t need confusion from their vendor partners. HP’s moves have been bad for the channel.
With all that said, solution providers are still in the driver’s seat as business move to mobility, managed services, virtualization and cloud computing. These technology drivers far outweigh any bad vendor moves.
Knock ’em alive!