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VAR business opportunities for 2011: What to focus on

Learn about the new specific technologies and services that can be translated into big VAR business opportunities in 2011, including VDI, cloud computing and the mobile market.

Solution providers may be familiar with technologies such as desktop virtualization or cloud computing, but knowing how they translate to the current channel market is a separate notion. Dave Sobel, CEO of Evolve Technologies, breaks down what VARs should focus on in 2011 to create new business opportunities.

Sobel also breaks down application delivery and how it can be a money maker for solution providers who keep a close eye on the market.

With the mixed success of desktop virtualization in 2010 in mind, what sort of business opportunities should solution providers expect with VDI in 2011?

Dave Sobel: You're right that there's been some mixed success with this. But it's a newer approach to desktop implementation so I think customers are still getting their heads around it. There are a lot of opportunities, particularly around task workers, kiosks and deployments that are very standard where VDI makes a lot of sense. So I think focusing on those opportunities is going to be the easy first win.

How can solution providers best take advantage of the growing mobile market in 2011?

Sobel: I think solution providers can really take advantage of the mobile market by addressing a number of different examples of how mobile can be used and sharing these with their customers. Embracing the new form factors, particularly tablets and the applications that are used on them will allow solution providers to have a much richer portfolio. Solution providers can make headway by providing firm examples; customers like to understand what they can do with it through other people's success. Implementing it yourself in your own organization and having examples from customers will help others understand what they can do with the technology.

Do solution providers have a better idea of how to make money from cloud computing than at this point last year?

Sobel: I certainly hope they have a better idea of how to make money from cloud. The cloud has certainly become a much more real opportunity for solution providers, and customers are embracing it. I think the opportunity remains around services. Service delivery around cloud implementations and understanding how to deliver that package is where solution providers should be focusing their attention. There are certainly examples of successful cloud engagements now.

Will the march toward converged data center architectures take off this year? Will the idea of services collaboration be a popular trend?

Sobel: I think it's hard to say exactly whether or not that converged data center architecture will take off. We are starting to see adoption. But I'm not convinced that we're going to see large-scale, massive adoptions this year, but I think we're going to see the idea of services collaboration be a trend that accelerates.

Converged architectures are the "next step" beyond server virtualization. People are still learning about the technology, and after the success of server virtualization, this is the next step. I think it's developing slowly only due to knowledge. Despite the "newness" of the approach, it's a proven trend and technology all the way back to mainframes.

So if I had to bank on one, I'd say services collaboration, and I think we'll continue a steady pace with converged data center architectures -- but I'm not convinced we'll have explosive growth.

Is server virtualization still something that VARs can rely on for business this year?

Sobel: I do consider server virtualization a money maker because it's becoming a core technology. There are a number of solution providers that have embraced it as their default way of doing deployment. That means there clearly is a market for it and people are comfortable doing it. So I can see it continuing to be a money maker in the marketplace.

My preference for solution providers interacting with customers is to provide the value add around virtualization. Communication on topics that the customer's business can gain from is important, specifically focused on metrics and measurements of that improvement. Because of this, particular technologies are less important than business gains.

Is there a technology that you can point to that is currently under the radar but may be a boon for providers in 2011?

Sobel: The trend that is being adopted on the consumer side that I see will affect the business side is the embrace of the app. Conceptually, the idea of a single application that can deliver information in a consumer-driven way is taking off easily in the marketplace. We see it with the delivery of app stores on a number of different platforms.

We're seeing incredible uptake on app delivery for consumers. Apple moved its App Store to the desktop and Microsoft has a marketplace for Windows phone. I see the ability to do app deployment at a corporate level as the next step in this. Managed app deployment, delivered in an easy to use and easy to manage way, will be an incredible opportunity.

I think this concept is going to potentially push forward, and solution providers that are keeping an eye on it and delivering services around apps are going to catch a wave that is not mainstream right now.

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