"There is a great deal of pent-up demand brewing in the customer base. I feel it is almost like the dam is going to break and the opportunity is going to present in the cloud and on-premise as well."
Those are the words of MTI's senior vice president of sales, Ian Parslow (pictured, below), who wholeheartedly agreed with a recent Canalys forecast that channel partners are feeling bullish this year.
The analyst recently published research based on a survey of 260 IT channel partners worldwide. Of those, 75 per cent expected a revenue boost in 2016, while 70 per cent expected profitable growth. Opportunities to grow sales remain "abundant" in most sectors, Canalys said, pointing to hyperconverged infrastructure, cloud applications, and software-defined infrastructure as key areas.
But Canalys labelled security as the hottest market, with a massive 87 per cent of partners expecting growth in that area of their business specifically.
"IT security is already the number-one priority for end customers, and is only going to grow in importance as they invest in next-generation datacentres, digital transformation, cloud, mobility and IoT," said Canalys analyst Jordan De Leon. "But this also illustrates the complexity of the security landscape. To capitalise, partners will need to develop much greater levels of expertise.
"Partners that build a powerful security practice, backed by a strong reputation, will find plenty of opportunities in a world that is unfortunately plagued by many threats."
MTI's Parslow said he completely agrees with the research and that on top of his firm's overall pipeline growing "significantly" in the past 90 to 150 days, security remains a key priority.
"It is a massive market for us," he said. "There are some great statistics out there about those - who are either naïve or stupid - who haven't realised they have been hacked as yet. We are recruiting very aggressively on the security side of our business at the moment and we have just taken on a guy called Jean Dignand from HP to drive that growth [Dignand joined MTI as sales director in March].
"We are looking to grow that [security] business between £15m to £25m over the next two to three years. And that's not through acquisition, that is through driving more product sale - in the UK alone. We absolutely see the opportunity there."
Canalys' research claims that managed services are now more profitable than product resale for two thirds of resellers.
Cloud outfit Redpixie's chief executive Mitchell Feldman said channel partners that ditch their traditional IT resale model can be richly rewarded.
"One of the effects is that there is a lot less risk and work for the channel," he said. "So it is becoming more profitable, not necessarily because they are making more money, but because they have increased efficiencies and reduced risk."
Feldman founded born-in-the-cloud firm Cloudamour in 2012 and his firm merged with fellow cloud player RedPixie before Christmas last year. He said that because of the merger and a number of key customer wins, he expects profits this year to be up 130 per cent annually.
MTI moved into managed services in 2010 in order to diversify from its roots as a traditional reseller and three years later it opened its own secure operations centre.
Parslow described the move into the space as "the best decision we ever made".
"On the managed services side, that has been our success story over the past few years," he said.
"We looked to buy but the barriers to entry were way too expensive to buy into that, so we built our own, and it was the best decision we ever made.
"Don't get me wrong, we grazed a few knees and bumped a few elbows on the way, but where we are now, we are smashing every target we that have set for ourselves.
"We are absolutely delighted and from a margin perspective, the margins we enjoy on managed services are significantly more than we experience in the datacentre or on the pure product play."
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