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The Channel Challenges of the moment: Slowing storage buys, collaboration ennui

It’s looking like there may be tight times ahead in the high-end storage market, if recent figures bear out. Despite previous bullish predictions for the continued growth of the storage market, a recent Citigroup report indicates that CIOs are becoming reluctant to spend money on high-end storage, despite unceasing growth in storage requirements and additional regulations that create even heavier data management burdens on companies of all sizes.

If the data is true–and there’s certainly room for debate on that–it only increases the storage market’s need for VARs and solution providers to deliver solutions to smaller companies to maintain growth. Technologies like IP SCSI have been getting a lot of traction with smaller businesses, as Paul Myerson of Enterprise Strategy Group said at our first storage channel event in Chicago recently.

Certainly, other technologies that have been a big driver of channel business haven’t slowed down. Server virtualization has continued to be in high demand for cost savings. And while desktop virtualization has gone largely ignored by the mainstream, desktop virtualization vendors are now pushing an idea through the channel that might actually stick–desktop virtualization as a way to protect against malware, and data theft and leaks.
But that may take some major convincing for many channel partners. That’s been the selling point of thin-client computing for some time, and while the appeal of the latest technologies may be broader, it will take a major education initiative by vendors to get many VARs and solution providers onboard. The same is true of technologies that already have significant marketing behind them–like Microsoft’s Sharepoint.

At its annual TechEd conference this week, Microsoft was pushing a new buzzphrase: “Dynamic IT”. With the release of Microsoft’s next Windows server platform looming, the company is looking to come up with some mantra to help it push its vision (and its software) through the channel to customers. But it doesn’t seem like the core of Microsoft’s strategy is getting much traction yet. While 75% of US businesses will have tried Microsoft SharePoint by the end of this year, according to Gartner, there aren’t enough SharePoint service provicers to serve the market. Larger businesses who need customization of SharePoint to meet their needs may go unserved as a result.

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