The continued growth of cloud technologies, products and services continues to be an important factor for the channel.
The requirement for higher data connectivity whether through fixed connectivity or mobile 4G connectivity, and the growth in this area has been a great thing for resellers over the last 12 months.
I think that as a community of providers in the channel, we can take hold of these technological advancements and make them simple, compelling and value adding for small businesses.
The coming year will be the prime time for resellers to step up and dominate the SME marketplace, taking an increased market share of SME customer telecoms and IT services.
2015 will hold continued growth in cloud products and services, supported by a further drive to a more mobile-centric working approach and sustained rapid growth and requirement for data connectivity solutions.
With this in mind, I believe hosted desktop will be an important product for us next year as we see the idea of virtualisation move from server level to desktop and storage.
Even more so with the looming deadline of Server 2003 and Windows XP retirement, channel partners will find themselves in an ideal position to guide SMEs away from traditional infrastructure to a virtual hosted desktop environment.
As more and more businesses opt to move away from traditional IT, I believe channel partners are in the best possible position to offer a virtualised solution. As well as having access to the resources to provide a virtualised IT infrastructure, it is the in-depth knowledge of the customer’s business needs that allows them to provide the correct internal setup and mirror an often intricate IT infrastructure that has been built up over a period of years.
Virtualisation is important to the channel, but the channel is just as, if not more, important to the success of virtualisation technology. Partners have a responsibility to guide end users to this new virtualised environment in a way that will benefit their businesses and promote this new way of working.
Within the virtualisation market, we have seen Amazon and VMware launch their own services that bypass the channel completely, allowing end customers to purchase virtualisation services directly from the vendors.
However, as with most new technologies, there is a much-needed requirement for transitional support. Other than a simple greenfield case, the majority of customers adopting virtualisation solutions will have legacy applications that need to be virtualised, but lack the skills to do this themselves and therefore require a partner to provide this resource as a part of the service.
In order for desktop virtualisation to reach its potential, the channel needs to take the lead. As a return, channel partners can benefit from a stickier customer base and recurring revenues that are dependent on individual employees rather than whole businesses.
There is currently a pull from customers towards this kind of technology, and if the channel isn’t catering to that requirement others will step in. A large proportion of our resellers have been providing server virtualisation for a while and we are now seeing rapid take-up of these newer areas of desktop virtualisation and storage virtualisation as more and more partners start to realise the need to incorporate this technology into their portfolios.
Partners must work closely with their vendors and suppliers to guarantee that their teams are fully up to speed. Of course, this also depends on the support and customer care of the suppliers, but resellers should utilise the skills and expertise that their suppliers have to offer.
However, remote working technology such as virtual desktops goes hand in hand with mobility. After all, without the successful driving force of 4G, the use of mobile devices would not be as high as it is today.
Desktop virtualisation only becomes a reality when supported by connectivity and an access device, which allows employees to work remotely and most importantly more productively.
Packaging the two together – cloud and mobility – provides channel partners with the perfect ammunition for SME demands over the next 12 months.
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