We Are Family: 5 Channel Insights from the Informa Universe

From Channel Partners' sister sites, here are my Top 5 must-reads for partners looking to stay on the cutting edge.

Lorna Garey

September 13, 2017

6 Min Read
We Are Family: 5 Channel Insights from the Informa Universe


Lorna Garey

Channel Partners is part of a massive, diverse extended family, from close cousins SDxE, MSP Mentor, VAR Guy and Talkin’ Cloud, to Light Reading, Ovum, the IoT Institute, Telecoms.com and hundreds more sites and events 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 our community catch the next big wave early, I decided to gather some insights from around my universe.

Internet of Energy: In a column on our sister site IoTi, energy value-chain adviser Mathias Steck looks ahead to when the supply chain shifts from a linear economy (take, make, use, dispose) to what Steck calls the “circular economy,” optimized for renewability. Energy is an area familiar to the channel; master agent WTG’s NuAge program has around 3,000 agents, VARs and MSPs working in areas including electricity and natural-gas procurement, renewable energy and storage, water savings and a growing portfolio of cloud and IoT energy services. Steck posits the rise of a centralized “Internet of Energy” that delivers flexible backup power interconnected to a decentralized electricity system. Maybe the widespread and sometimes weeks-long power outages in Houston and Florida left by massive tropical storms will accelerate that opportunity. Read about it here. 

Telecom’s End Game: Over at Light Reading, site founder Steve Saunders says that the “telecom industry has spent decades wandering in a technology desert. The trek isn’t over by any stretch — but at least the destination is now clearly marked.” That outcome, according to Saunders, involves fully autonomous carrier networks that can run for days or even weeks without human interaction. Agents who’ve waited weeks or months to get an MPLS circuit provisioned for a customer, even with plenty of humans involved, are probably thinking, “Not in this lifetime.” Saunders admits that most carriers are still operating firmly in manual mode. But he points out that traditional carrier arms dealers including Ericsson, Juniper and Nokia, are being challenged by the likes of Oracle, IBM and HPE as well as upstart “God code” middleware suppliers like RIFT.io. And, the world’s largest service providers, including AT&T, are “turning the traditional telecoms order on its head by developing virtualization and automation technology themselves.” He cites AT&T’s ECOMP platform.

Is a quantum leap out of the question? Probably. But at least there’s light at the end of that MPLS tunnel. Read the manifesto here.

With X, Has Apple Jumped the Cost Shark? Over on Channel Partners’ platform twin Telecoms.com, editorial director Scott Bicheno says what we’re all thinking: Apple wants how much for the iPhone X? No doubt image-conscious executives as well as millennials willing to forego soy lattes for a few weeks (months?) to save up will fork over $999 for the X base model. Bicheno runs down the headline features: a 5.8-inch “super retina” display, a new six-core A11 Bionic SoC that Apple claims is 70 percent faster than the previous chip, 3D facial recognition and wireless charging. Nice, but hardly groundbreaking.

Apple also released some lower-cost phones and a new watch with calling built in, in case it’s too much trouble to pull your phone out of your pocket, along with announcing new Apple TV specs. But Bicheno points out the potential for this move to backfire if loyalists opt to hang onto their existing phones or upgrade to the lower-cost iPhone 8. Read it here.

PaaS & Next-Stage Cloud: You’ll have to download this report put out by SDxE: The Software-Defined Conference & Expo (which is colocated with Channel Partners Evolution next month in Austin. Want a pass? Hit me up in the comments.) It’s worth giving up the biz card info based on one insight from my own files: Customer cloud strategies are all over the map. That’s illustrated by …

… a new survey from automation and orchestration software provider Cloudify. The 2017 State of Enterprise Multi-Cloud Report covers about 700 IT professional respondents shaping cloud strategies for organizations ranging from fewer than 50 employees to more than 10,000 in a variety of verticals. The overriding theme here is fragmentation. Short story: Half of the orgs represented manage more than one cloud, with close to 9 percent deploying workloads across five or even more. The most popular two-cloud combination is AWS and Azure, which indicates that customers are using public/public multi-clouds to avoid lock-in. The second most popular two-cloud combination is AWS and OpenStack. (I’ll be at our New Stack City precon keynote for advice on choosing a platform.)

Clearly, public and on-premises clouds are living side-by-side. Some multi, some hybrid. What’s less clear is whether there’s any integration or cross movement of workloads. My guess? Nope. Which brings us to PaaS. Google, IBM, Microsoft, Salesforce and other big names are revitalizing the platform-as-a-service market, which Gartner says will double by 2020. As report author and analyst Kurt Marko points out, PaaS products often make their way to customers as managed, metered service extensions to IaaS and SaaS offerings — and that means they’re incremental sales opportunities for partners. You need to be advising customers deciding where to place new cloud workloads to take PaaS into account. As Marko points out, that’s key in staying responsive to business change because PaaS abstracts complexity, reduces administrative overhead and decreases application development time. The report includes an in-depth guide to PaaS products for AWS, Azure, Googe Cloud Platform, IBM Bluemix, Oracle Cloud and Salesforce. Download it here.

Video Explosion: While much of Ovum’s content is available only to members, the analyst firm regularly publishes opinion columns from analysts that are free with registration. You can get insights on vendors, technologies and global trends. Recently, Mila D’Antonio, principal analyst, customer engagement, discussed the role of video as a tool for enterprises to find, nurture, engage and retain customers. D’Antonio runs down four key trends driving the video boom. First, video is the primary way millennials consume content. They even go to YouTube to find information over search engines. Second, among all consumers, people are four times more keen to watch a video about a product than read about it. She also addresses video consumption on the social web and an increase in the popularity of live-streaming video. Are you using video for your business and advising customers on using it as the go-to engagement tool in a mobile-first world? If not, read D’Antonio’s advice here to see why your should be. We also offer a free report from our own video guru David F. Carr on Making Video Work for Channel Sales and Marketing.

Interested in more from Ovum? You can hear U.S. enterprise practice lead Mike Sapien discuss real-world SD-WANs next month at CPE and chat him up after the session. Hope to see you in Austin!

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