Most astute resellers realise that trends like the move to cloud-based services don’t negate the need for professional skills and consultancy – the lifeblood of many VARs.
As one door closes another opens. What we are seeing is actually a redistribution of some hardware and IT services out of each individual company into centralised datacentres, that are either part of the corporate infrastructure, or from providers of on-demand IT as a service.
For vendors like ourselves, the goal posts are moving slightly and we are increasingly working with managed services providers (MSPs) and ISPs to build security into their web-based software services.
Yet the definition of a VAR, an MSP or an ISP is itself changing. Many VARs are diversifying into managed services, MSPs are offering IT services and ISPs are moving into managed services alongside their internet service provision. The lines between them are becoming fuzzy.
I don’t believe all IT services will move into the cloud. Instead, we will see many companies taking a hybrid approach, and for certain services such as email and security they may well move to a web-based approach.
Other applications that are business critical and require customisation to the client’s needs will need IT resellers to ensure the technology works seamlessly. Many resellers are taking cloud-based services and delivering customised versions for their clients, or selling directly to, or partnering with MSPs.
Will the cloud encourage vendors to cut out the channel and go direct? By and large this hasn’t been the case. The business models to support direct sales are generally unattractive, and vendors recognise that customers have allegiances to particular channel partners and don’t want to buy from different suppliers.
New channel players could emerge with a different, stickier approach to match changing customer needs. A service-based model means customers can more easily swap suppliers if they are dissatisfied. Channel players with their fingers on the pulse of these changing customer needs will be able to flourish.
Petter Lautin is managing director of Panda Software
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