SMB Nation Wrap Up: Clouds Fill the Conference Hall
Cloud computing was much on the minds of attendees and presenters at this week’s SMB Nation Fall 2010 conference.
By Rich Freeman
What a difference a year makes. Back in 2009, most attendees at the fall edition of SMB Nation, a semi-annual trade show for VARs and managed service providers, exhibited little interest in cloud computing. This year it was the dominant theme at the conference, held October 22nd through 24th in Las Vegas.
“We’re at the point where we’ve got to start figuring out the right places to use this technology,” said Dave Sobel, CEO of Evolve Technologies, an MSP and business IT consultancy in Fairfax, Va.
To that end, conference presenters explored the ins and outs of public, private, and hybrid cloud delivery models, as well as the cloud’s likely impact on IT provider business models. With SMBs slowly relying more and more on hosted infrastructure and software offerings, many speakers argued, channel pros currently earning their money on hardware deployment and management must shift to providing strategic integration and business consulting services instead.
“To be that trusted adviser is going to be critical,” counseled Cindy Bates, vice president of U.S. small, medium business and distribution at Microsoft Corp., and a keynoter at SMB Nation.
Not everyone in attendance saw the cloud’s rise as inevitable, however. Joshua Liberman, president of Net Sciences Inc., an MSP in Albuquerque, N.M., was one of many conference goers who questioned cloud computing’s suitability for his clients. High-speed broadband is scarce, costly, and unreliable in New Mexico, he noted, so companies that adopt cloud-based solutions could be in for slower performance and more downtime. “Cloud is great, but people are going to have to change their expectations,” Liberman said.
SMB NATION AND D&H DISTRIBUTING TEAM UP
Also making news at SMB Nation was the launch of a new business alliance between SMB Nation, Inc., the Bainbridge Island, Wash.-based company that runs the conference, and D&H Distributing Co., of Harrisburg, Pa. Under terms of the agreement, D&H will develop special programs for SMB Nation members and drive attendance to its events. In exchange, SMB Nation will lend D&H its considerable credibility among SMB partners. “I’m promoting D&H as the right choice for those who follow SMB Nation,” said Harry Brelsford, CEO of SMB Nation. “These are good people.”