This year will go down as a year of contradictions, with the channel defying the economic gloom and exiting the year arguably in its rudest health for a decade.
In September, Canalys founder Steve Brazier claimed that Q3 of 2017 was shaping up to be the best growth quarter for the technology industry in western Europe for 10 years.
Meanwhile, emerging technologies such as AI, IoT and quantum computing - not to mention more overarching trends such as digital transformation - have arguably provided IT resellers and consultancies with a wider repertoire of door-openers than ever before.
May's WannaCry ransomware attack, which hit 81 NHS trusts, ensured that cybersecurity remained at the top of the boardroom agenda.
On the flip side, the last 12 months will also be remembered for the wrong reasons, as a spate of high-profile channel brands - chief among them Entatech and Misco - hit the wall. Orange IS, Millennium Business Systems and Datacentred were among the other casualties as the prolonged fall in UK corporate insolvencies between 2010 and 2016 showed signs of reversing. In September, the UK also sank to the bottom of the G7 GDP growth league table.
Reflecting on the events of 2017 as he revealed he would be gradually handing over control of Centerprise to its new CEO, industry stalwart Rafi Razzak said he felt that history will remember the period 2017 to 2020 in the same terms as the Stone Age or Bronze Age.
"The new generation will have a different concept of the quality of life they will live and what information they will have," he said. Razzak picked out the rise of data analytics and ‘deep computing' as the biggest potential change for life as we know it.
"Today, 95 per cent of companies in the world use a spreadsheet and they don't use a single glass to manage the data for them," he explained. "Managing the data, and presenting the data to the right level of person to be able to make decisions - that to me will be the biggest change we see in the next few years, over and above anything else like AI or IoT."
Though it was a bumpy ride at times, no-one could argue that 2017 was anything other than eventful.
We asked four channel leaders what they made of 2017…
Hayley Roberts, owner/managing director, Distology
What will 2017 be remembered for in the IT industry and channel?
Despite the warnings from previous years, it was surprising to see how many organisations remained vulnerable to significant cyber attacks, particularly advanced threats. The constant wave of attacks and magnitude (WannaCry, Equifax, etc) alarmingly continued, if not increased on the previous year. The adoption of cloud gathered even more momentum with most organisations adopting some form of cloud at least in a hybrid approach. From a channel point of view, partners that had invested in cloud security software and services have been able to take advantage of the growing opportunities in that space as spending on this area of security outstripped the traditional perimeter and firewall security spend as we have seen remote working and connectivity demands increased. AI in various guises has been on the increase in terms of product development and is becoming more reliable from a security point of view.
What was the biggest let-down of 2017, either technology or industry-wise?
As an industry, we saw a severe IT skills shortage in 2017. No different from last year, but compounded by the fact that we have more need for these skills on an annual basis. It has been challenging to find resource with the knowledge of new technologies and that has been a limiting factor in our ability to capitalise on some of the new opportunities.
How about the surprise development?
The sheer number of cheap and insecure IoT devices being deployed at a very fast rate. Their threat seems to have been under the radar of most IT security departments in 2017. It's an area which does need addressing to avoid the potential for further damaging large-scale DDoS attacks if left unchecked. Of course, the biggest surprise was the rate of the recent Bitcoin inflation and the other methods of digital currency that may follow suit!
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