Local heroes such as OCF, Stone, DTP and Softcat are giving Dell, BT and Apple a run for their money in the fast-growing higher-education space.
That's according to CRN analysis of IT spending data from 94 UK universities obtained via Freedom of Information requests as part of the 2016 CRN Education Report.
Higher education remains a lucrative sector for the channel, the analysis suggests, with average university IT budgets growing 12 per cent to £5.82m in academic year 2015.
Dell retained its stranglehold of the market, topping our top-50 supplier league table for a third year running.
Of the 86 universities that provided us with a breakdown of how much they spent with their top-five IT hardware, software and services suppliers, Dell accounted for nearly £35m of spend.
BT rose from fourth to second place, accounting for £13.5m of spend, with Apple retaining third place, with nearly £13m of spend.
However, several local VARs and system builders leapt up the rankings this year, chief among them high-performance computing specialist OCF, which accounted for over £10m of spend winning big deals with UCL and Cambridge.
HP partner DTP rose from eighth to sixth place in the rankings, accounting for £8.21m of spend, while Staffordshire PC builder Stone leapt from 16th to fifth in the rankings with a total of over £9m. Softcat meanwhile, rose from 25th to 14th in the rankings, racking up over £4m of sales among universities who listed it in their top five.
Mike Bacon, managing director of Academia, which also featured in the league table, said universities are increasingly incentivising students to enrol in courses by offering them free tablets that are fully integrated into the university curriculum. Desktop sales in the sector are down, however, he said.
Academia was the University of Westminister's largest IT supplier last year after it won a £3m deal to supply 2,500 of its first-year students with 16GB iPad Air 2s, preconfigured with the university's own software.
"We are now in phase two, year two of that," Bacon (pictured) said. "There are a few BYOD schemes out there where as part of [the students' fees] you get an iPad, not just to play with, but that is fully integrated into the curriculum and is used to submit all coursework."
A full rundown of the rankings is contained within the 2016 CRN Education Report, which aims to deliver a comprehensive overview of the opportunities the education sector provides for the IT suppliers. The report, sponsored by Tech Data, can be downloaded free of charge here, but a summary of the top ten suppliers can be found at the bottom of this article.
The report also explores which technologies schools, colleges and universities are spending on and what they really think of their IT suppliers, as well as featuring dedicated sections on trends such as BYOD, academisation and apps.
The 92 universities that provided us with their total IT spending figures, or pointed us towards public data that allowed us to make an estimate, accounted for a collective spend of £535m.
The two biggest-spending universities that responded - UCL and Cambridge - each saw their annual IT purse swell by a quarter or more, to £36m and £27m, respectively. OCF, Dell, BT iNet, Apple and Misco were UCL's top-five suppliers, with Dell, OCF, Apple, Oracle and Cadence topping Cambridge's supplier rankings.
Supplier Total spend Times cites as top-5 supplier
1) Dell £34.8m 41
2) BT £13.2m 18
3) Apple £12.9m 34
4) OCF £10.5m 4
5) Stone £9.1m 16
6) DTP £8.2m 15
7) HP £8.2m 15
8) Insight £7.3m 7
9) Logicalis £6.9m 8
10) XMA/Viglen £6.5m 29
Security firm set to become part of acquisitive Shearwater Group
Distributor merges three northern sites into one new hub in Warrington
Activist investor puts forward five director candidates as turmoil continues at security giant
Nima Green asks what is driving public cloud uptake in Germany