Spectrum SD-WAN, IoT Platform-palooza, Dell Two-fer: 5 Insights from the Informa Universe

From Channel Partners' sister sites, here are my Top 5 must-reads for partners.

Lorna Garey

December 22, 2017

5 Min Read
Five, 5


Lorna Garey

Channel Partners is part of a big, diverse extended family, from sister site Channel Futures, to Light and Heavy Reading, Ovum, the IoT Institute, IT Pro, Telecoms.com and hundreds more media and event brands owned by our parent company, Informa. My talented editorial colleagues cover technology and business topics that shed light on what your customers, competitors and top suppliers are thinking about now — or will be soon. To help partners catch the next big wave early, here are some insights from around my world.

At IT Pro, Brian Buntz (who is heading up an IoT security session in Vegas that you won’t want to miss) characterizes the IoT platform market as “frothy and fragmented” — not an ideal situation for partners looking to develop bundled solutions. I was surprised to learn that there are currently about 450 platforms in play, according to IoT Analytics, up from 260 in 2015. But we’re heading toward dramatic consolidation: Nitesh Arora, head of marketing at asset tracking specialist ‎Cloudleaf, tells Buntz that he wouldn’t be surprised if roughly three-quarters of IoT platforms disappeared in the coming 12-24 months. So how do you choose? His advice is to look for platforms that play well with Azure and AWS and that help you quickly deliver on business promises. “I talk to a variety of Fortune 500 companies, and many of them complain the time to value for an IoT platform is anywhere from six months to a year,” Arora says. “They can’t afford to wait that long to see results.”

While at IT Pro, check out the IT Professionals 2017 Salary Report. Are you paying your technical staffers what they’re worth on the market? Now answer that in the context of the GOP being right about the new tax bill and the economy edging closer to full employment in 2018.

Over at Light Reading, cable/video practice lead Alan Breznick checked in with Satya Parimi, Spectrum Enterprise group VP of data and cloud products. Spectrum Enterprise is catching up to Comcast in terms of business service revenue, said Parimi, and is banking on SD-WAN to further close the gap. With help from its partners, Spectrum Enterprise has been quite successful selling fiber services to midsize and large businesses; now it’s building an SDN platform to deliver virtualized managed services, including the hybrid SD-WAN (now in field trials and due next year) and eventually firewalls, UTM and content filtering, and WAN acceleration. What makes this SD-WAN product stand out? According to Parimi, it’s the capability to combine OTT and Layer 2 connections into a hybrid managed WAN, preserving legacy Ethernet business in the process. One interesting perspective is that Parimi says SD-WAN doesn’t add to the overall WAN market, which he puts at $20 billion nationwide, with about half of that MPLS. Rather, it’s about swapping share. “The WAN market overall is not going to grow,” he said. “It’s going to be substitution of one technology for the other.”

Telecoms.com deputy editor Jaime Davies fills us in on how Facebook is using AI to catch identity thieves — although the tech isn’t being marketed that way. You may have seen news that Facebook will use its facial-recognition algorithms to describe who is in a picture to visually impaired people and alert you if anyone uses your mug as a profile photo or whenever an image of you is uploaded, whether it’s tagged or not. Yes, there’s a creepiness factor here, but once you get beyond that, the potential benefits are clear. One catch, says Davies, is that …

… individuals must give permission for Facebook’s software to start searching for their faces. Partners that send security newsletters or do training on how to avoid phishing and identity theft may want to add a recommendation to get over the “ick” and let the AI run free, with a particular heads up for parents whose children use Facebook.

Channel Futures content director Kris Blackmon caught up this week with both Joyce Mullen, who recently replaced John Byrne as head of global channels for Dell EMC, and Dell VP of global channels and alliances Cheryl Cook. The full Q&A is well worth a read, and not just for Dell partners. Blackmon digs into how Dell is serving both solutions-based sellers and its traditional channel of VARs and MSPs (answer: dual recognition programs) and how VMware naming Dell an official distributor came as a result of demand from partners.

While you’re there, check out content director TC Doyle’s open source-focused podcast featuring Linux Foundation GM of training and certification Clyde Seepersad. TC and I agree that partners with an open-source practice have a big advantage when it comes to racking up ongoing support revenue. 

Finally, Ovum senior analyst Sonia Agnese reports on Microsoft and Qualcomm launching the “always connected PC,” aka the “AC-PC,” a term Agnese says was coined by Microsoft and Qualcomm to describe a Windows PC using the same systems-on-a-chip found in high-end smartphones, rather than a typical x86 processor from AMD or Intel.

Or a politically correct version of Malcom and Angus and the boys, one or the other.

These devices enable cellular connectivity via integrated LTE and deliver longer battery life, instant-on, detachable-screen designs, and the ability to natively run Windows 10. AC-PCs are available from Asus starting at around $600, and Agnese sees them as attractive for enterprise users. They’re also a way for Microsoft to take on Chromebooks, which have moved beyond the traditional education vertical. (Anyone else expecting one of these babies under the tree this year?)

On behalf of the Channel Partners team, thank you for riding out 2017 with us. It’s been a big year. We changed up our website platform, joined forces with new colleagues at Penton and welcomed more than 8,000 of you at two record-setting events in Austin and Las Vegas. Here’s to spending a restful holiday break with friends, family, and our new electronic devices. We’ll see you in 2018 for our biggest-ever Channel Partners Conference & Expo.

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