Our experts agree: Cloud was the key facet that defined channel business in 2013. While much of the talk at the beginning of the year was more about Cloud's potential, if anything the application of the technology exceeded expectations.
That is just one of the key points that emerged as we asked channel thought-leaders for their view of the year — the hits, the misses, the surprises and the big trends that emerged. And they had plenty to say. But Cloud clearly covered 2013.
"It proved to be an even stronger trend than we predicted. In 2012 it was all about and talking about it and powerpoint demonstrations. 2013 was the year we actually started doing it. And it took off," Channel Dynamics director, Moheb Moses, said.
Pushpull Marketing founder, Laurie Sellers, noted the Cloud has entered the mainstream consciousness. "It's not just some obscure terminology anymore. It is more likely that the average person on the street knows what it's about," he said.
Dunkenny Consulting managing director, David Henderson, said this rapid change caught a lot of channel operators off guard. "It has definitely had an impact on the channel — some have been very slow to adapt. The telco companies, in particular, have taken hold here, and they are definitely the big winners this year."
Distribution Central executive chairman, Scott Frew, said the transition has been tough for some of the traditional box-shifting resellers, who need to move to service models.
"We're seeing the smart resellers moving into 'service provider mode', while the others have hit the skids a bit. Those that haven't made the transition are struggling. We don't expect that to change over the next year. Our Cloud products are selling very well," he said.
Dimension Data CEO, Steve Nola, said it had broken down geographical barriers, and his company is seeing a lot of local and international customer demand for the company's products.
"Cloud is set to take the biggest percentage of spending on new technology within the next few years. Where we are seeing some slower adoption rates in the enterprise are in the more complex cloud applications, such as unified communications, where there are a lot of integration elements, external services and dependencies at play," he said.
Shoretel's ANZ managing director, Jamie Romanin, is more sceptical. "There has been a lot of press given to Cloud-based communication services this year, but the reality is more like a bunch of teenagers gossiping about sex. Everybody is talking about it. Everybody thinks everyone else is doing it. Everybody thinks they want to do it, but they're not really sure how to do it, or if it's going to be as good as it's cracked up to be.
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