IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Channel-Lands: SMBs, Communications to the Recession Rescue

In case you haven’t heard, the recession is over. While many of us are still feeling the pinch of economic contraction, there are several sectors where there’s growth for the channel, in particular with SMB and communications. And that’s the focus of this week’s Channel-Lands: vendors and entire sectors are seeing opportunities in SMB sales, converged communications and cloud computing. Here’s this week’s scoop.

SMBs to the Recession Rescue

Channel-lands can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that economists determined that we started exiting the economic doldrums in June 2009. The news is even better. The United States has recovered nearly 75 percent of its lost gross domestic product and more than half of its productivity in the last year.

So if the news is so good, why isn’t everyone jumping for joy? One word: Jobs.

The post-recession recovery is turning out to be a jobless one. The U.S. has only recovered 9 percent of the more than 8 million jobs lost in the 2008-2009 recession. And the prospects for big business turning on the hiring engine are low to nil. That leaves one place for jobs creation: small business. And little wonder that those among the Channel-Lands faithful are looking longingly to the small and mid-sized market for new opportunity.

The VAR Guy reported earlier this week, Cisco is launching a new slate of products – including switches for IP phones, managed switches and advanced video monitoring software – designed specifically for small businesses. Additionally, Cisco and Ingram Micro are developing a small business playbook for channel partners.

The VAR Guy also reported Microsoft’s launching an SMB Cloud Champions Club for BPOS resellers. Under the program for superstar partners, Microsoft is offering as much as double-time margins. It’s a pretty impressive incentive for selling cloud-based applications.

Over the last year, several other vendors have announced SMB-specific programs. Given that small business usually sees the first uptick coming out of a recession, you can bet that vendors and distributors will continue to push SMB incentives and initiatives.

HP, Oracle Bury the Hatchet

Before Larry Ellison took the stage at Oracle World, Hewlett-Packard and Oracle announced a settlement to the two-week drama over the employment fate of Mark Hurd. Under the settlement, Hurd gave up roughly half of his severance package and agreed to safeguard HP trade secrets. The settlement meant no fireworks in either Ellison’s or HP Ann Livermore’s address before the Oracle faithful.

With the drama in the rearview mirror, Hurd now can get down to business of bulking up Oracle’s hardware business – formally known as Sun Microsystems. Oracle has received a lot of heat for taking much of its Sun hardware business direct. While Hurd has spoken positively of working with solution providers, TechTarget’s Barbara Darrow reports that partners don’t believe Hurd will do an about-face on the Sun direct plan.

Heads in the Cloud

Everyone wants to talk cloud computing because it’s one of the few areas in IT seeing growth. Despite the excitement and growth in the cloud, there remains a lot of debate and doubt about VARs’ and solution providers’ ability to play in the cloud. CRN has a wonderful list of solution providers who are at the head of the class in cloud computing services. Companies ranging from large consulting firms such as Accenture to professional services firms like ACS (a Xerox division) to solution providers Champion Solutions Group and Glasshouse Technologies serve as shining examples of how channel companies are developing strategies to succeed in the cloud. This list is worth checking out for gleaning lessons.

Coming Communications Convergence

Phone+ Magazine hosted its bi-annual Channel Partners Conference in Washington, D.C., this week, and it was a harbinger of two channels converging. Channel Partners is primarily a conference of telecom solution providers, master telephony agents and hosting companies. Interestingly, these companies are being called upon by their customers to deliver networking and data services. And as telephony and unified communications increase, they’re in need of people and partners with greater data networking skills and vendor relationships. There’s a heavy expectation that this trend will lead to greater cooperation and convergence between the voice and data channels. Oh, by the way, telephone and broadband services are growing, while many technologies in the data channel are contracting. These are definitely people everyone in the IT channel should get to know.

Well, that’s all the week’s news from Channel-Lands where all the technology works, all the deals are profitable and all of the companies are above average. If you want to follow me on Facebook or Twitter, feel free to connect. Share your suggestions and news with me at [email protected].

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