Channel Marker

September 19, 2011  7:51 PM

We interrupt this blog with a UPS market forecast

Heather Clancy Heather Clancy Profile: Heather Clancy

I’m not sure when uninterruptible power supplies (UPSes) got so sexy, but the fact is they are one of the most important products in the ongoing transition to greener, more power efficient computing infrastructure.

Little wonder, then, that a new market prediction from Pike Research suggests strong growth for the product category over the next four years. The research firm points out in its report (“Next Generation Uninterruptible Power Supplies”) that higher standards for reliability and more concerns about the quality and efficiency of energy across the data center will push a growth rate of 12.2 percent between 2010 and 2011, which is clearly much faster than most other segments of the IT market. Sales should reach $8.2 billion by the end of 2011, with revenue of $13.2 billion anticipated by 2015.

Said Pike Research President Clint Wheelock:

“Leading UPS vendors are addressing the evolving needs of the market by focusing on greater efficiency, including more transformerless designs. Advances in battery technology are also benefitting UPS products by reducing cost and floorspace requirements.”

Large-format UPS systems actually grew faster than small-format systems during the first half of 2011, on a global basis, the research firm reports.

I believe you’ll also start hearing more about the intersection of UPS technology and broader energy storage options, as companies look to increase all their options when it comes to distributing power across data centers.

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September 16, 2011  3:49 PM

PC shipment forecasts revised downward

Heather Clancy Heather Clancy Profile: Heather Clancy

PC shipments in the second quarter of 2011 trailed expectations, which has prompted market research firm International Data Corp. to revise its full-year forecast downward slightly to 4.2 percent.

The update to its Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker reports that shipments grew by 2.7 percent in the quarter, off from the 2.9 percent forcast. The research firm cites a number of factors, including sluggish sales in mature markets, cannibalization from devices including media tablets and smartphones, and an overall environment of economic malaise, especially among small and midsize businesses (SMBs).

Notes IDC senior research analyst Jay Chou:

“With the excitement of mini notebooks largely past, the PC industry has struggled to come up with compelling features to keep buyer interest, and has subsequently suffered some budget-competition from smartphones as well as media tablets, which sold more than 107 million and 13.5 million units, respectively, in the second quarter of 2011. The proposed spin-off of HP’s PC business has also contributed to uncertainty in the market as the channel and corporate users re-evaluate their next steps.”

That’s the bad news. The good news, in my opinion, is that the United States is holding its own relative to other mature markets. Sure, sales dropped by almost 5 percent in the second quarter, compared with the previous year. But in Western Europe, they fell by more than 20 percent.

IDC also believes the long-term trends are positive. Here is the growth in percentage shipments that it anticipates for mature markets over the next several years:

2012 – 5.1 percent
2013 – 5.6 percent
2014 – 6.5 percent
2015 – 5.9 percent

Mature markets include the United States, Western Europe, Japan and Canada.

I believe that IT solution providers need to watch these numbers in context of how other client devices are doing — including media tablets and smartphones, both of which continue to post extraordinary growth. Consider that IDC believes vendors will ship a total of 472 million smartphones in 2011, which is a 55 percent growth rate. Media tablets are posting an even faster growth rate, although that growth is obviously coming off a much smaller base. IDC just reported that worldwide shipments for the second quarter were 13.6 million units, up about 304 percent year over year.

Long term, there will be very different sorts of client devices relying on your IT services firm’s skills. Will your team be up to that challenge? It won’t, if it keeps focusing on desktops and notebooks as the only client devices worth worrying about.

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September 13, 2011  12:32 PM

Wi-Fi transition will accelerate into 2014 (research)

Heather Clancy Heather Clancy Profile: Heather Clancy

The crossover to more flexible Wi-Fi technologies will accelerate during the next three years, according to some new data out from ABI Research.

The firm reports that the 802.11ac format will emerge as the dominant protocol by 2014, with a sharp increase in shipments during the 2013 crossover year. The primary format within the platform will be chipsets that combine the 802.11n and 802.11ac formats, according to ABI Research.

Notes Philip Solis, the research director for mobile networks at the firm:

“With the exception of a small and dwindling number of 802.11g chipsets, everything has already shifted to 802.11, and it has happend faster than most people expected. This is a clear indication of what will happen with 802.11ac.”

The more flexible the chipset in terms of its ability to accommodate multiple bands, the more likely it is to be adopted.

The research dovetails with another report out this week from IDC that predicts that by 2015, more people will access the internet via mobile, wireless devices than via wireline connections. I just want to note that wired broadband connections sit behind the wireless access points that we use. So, technically speaking, the statement is true but there is a wire behind it all. Somewhere.

The IDC report, called the Worldwide New Media Market Model, predicts that the total number of internet users will grow to 2.7 billion in 2015 from 2 billion in 2015. The compound annual growth rate of mobile internet users will be approximately 16.6 percent during that time period.

If that doesn’t get IT solution providers thinking about the sorts of managed services they offer for their clients, nothing will. The fact is that the personal computer’s influence as the central point for access is continuing to decline, probably at a rate faster than most VARs or systems integrators have expected.

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September 12, 2011  2:38 PM

AMI report: Competencies will help SMBs with cloud services

PatOuellette Pat Ouellette Profile: PatOuellette

Raise your hand if you’ve heard this before: Vendors want VARs to focus on specialization.

Whether it’s IBM seeking specialized partners or Autodesk honing in on partner specialties, this isn’t a new trend. But Access Markets International (AMI) recently  surveyed 650 SMB VARs, and it would appear that vendor desire for specialized competencies will be a factor in the cloud computing services market.

Based on the types of solutions partners offer, growth areas, margins and skill sets, AMI came up with five high-value competencies (HVCs) that VARs can be judged on: Business analytics (BA), unified communication and collaboration, business process management, mobility and infrastructure alignment. These competencies are then rated. So  for a partner  to get a BA competency, they have to offer a substantial amount of on-premises and cloud BA solutions (about 25-30% total, according to AMI).

AMI queried each respondent for 35 minutes on their experience with the competencies and maintains that because these competencies provide higher growth and margins, they will help partners have cloud success.

Of the 650 respondents, 45-50% had at least one competency and 15-20% had two or more. Avinash Arun, director of channels at AMI, said that these numbers are a continuation of a changing landscape and a sign of the all-in-one partner’s demise.

“Once partners have isolated competencies, offering cloud services becomes easier,” Arun said. “One-third of respondents with at least one competency offer some form of Software as a Service (SaaS) whereas only one-tenth of partners without competencies provide SaaS.”

Arun said that 15-20% of SMB VARs are presently getting revenue from the cloud, but over 25% with one of these competencies are getting cloud revenue.

Competencies have always been important to vendors, not customers, and some SMB VARs have said that their work in the field should take precedent over competencies. But as cloud services become more prominent, VARs who didn’t value specific competencies before may need to need to adjust on the fly.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Pat Ouellette, Associate Editor, at , or follow us on twitter.

September 7, 2011  5:26 PM

VAR taps cloud for IT cost monitoring service

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

Mick Gallagher has resold Oracle and NetSuite software and services for quite some time. Now, he’s fully into the cloud with App360.

This service, built atop NetSuite infrastructure, plus an up-front service call, will help companies get a handle on what they’re really spending for all of their information technology and better allocate resources accordingly. Continued »

August 31, 2011  8:08 PM

IBM snaps up fraud-detection expert i2

Heather Clancy Heather Clancy Profile: Heather Clancy

The deeper that IBM Software gets into analytics, the deeper it gets into territory that hackers and other nefarious cyber-criminals are likely to target. Little wonder, then, that the giant IT services and software company today snapped up a British security technology firm, i2, to aid in its protection of businesses, healthcare organizations and governments using its technology.

Two of i2’s touted credentials: it is used by 12 of the top 20 retail banks in the world and eight of the 10 biggest companies. The technology is also used at the national security level in 60 different countries, according to its web site.

In a statement announcing the acquisition, IBM executive Craig Hayman, who is general manager of IBM Industry Solutions, said:

“IBM’s goal is to better equip public safety officials and businesses with the information and tools they need to ensure safer cities. The combined capabilities of IBM and i2 will help customers uncover patterns and trends that will allow them to more effectively protect the privacy and safety of citizens, businesses and governments.”

The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but the transaction is expected to close in the second quarter provided all the usual regulatory hurdles are surmounted. i2 has its base in Cambridge, England. Its 350 employees are located there, as well as in McLean Va.; Tucson, Ariz.; Canberra, Australia; and Ottawa.

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August 31, 2011  2:54 PM

What’s next for HP: Five things to watch for

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow


How can this wacky Hewlett-Packard saga get even nuttier? LOTS of ways. Here are a few things to ponder going forward.

1: Track Jon Rubinstein.  The former Apple hardware whiz , aka The Podfather,  went to the beach for awhile before getting snapped up by Palm. Now that HP’s TouchPad is dead (or IS it?) he might be looking for other things to do and it would be extremely tantalizing if he ended up back at Cupertino’s Infinite Loop for Apple now that Steve Jobs has left the building. Of course, there were some hard feelings when Rubinstein took a hike, so it remains to be seen if Tim Cook would deign to let him back in. Continued »

August 30, 2011  6:12 PM

HP PCs are dead, long live HP PCs!

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

Talk about mixed messages.

First Hewlett-Packard CEO Leo Apotheker says the company might spin off or sell off its huge PC business and kill off its new TouchPads. Then a cadre of other HP execs hit the phones to tell partners–the partners that HP has pushed to sell more, more, more PCs and laptops– that PCs remain a priority at HP. Continued »

August 25, 2011  8:48 PM

3 cloud strategy lessons from solution provider Logicalis

Heather Clancy Heather Clancy Profile: Heather Clancy

What self-respecting IT services provider ISN’T trying to position itself as an expert in cloud computing? After all, pretty much everyone has their own definition of what it means. What’s that old saying? There is margin in mystery? Continued »

August 25, 2011  12:24 PM

Steve Jobs’ legacy

badarrow Barbara Darrow Profile: badarrow

Here’s the thing about Steve Jobs. All that stuff about the charisma, the “reality distortion field,” all the crap that PC-oriented journalists caught up in the Microsoft-Intel duopoly derided as fan-boy BS, it was very real.  Check out this video from MacWorld Boston (remember that???) in 1997, especially the piped-in appearance by Bill Gates about 30 minutes in. (An amazing amount of hissing for an industry event. And let’s not get into the boobirds.)

Stunning. To plagiarize myself, what has always struck me about Apple compared to Microsoft is that Apple, at least under Jobs, always left its customers jazzed but wanting more. Microsoft, on the other hand (and this coming from a long-time Windows user) seems to leave its users exhausted and wanting less.

That’s a big fundamental difference.

Let us know what you think about this post; email Barbara Darrow, Senior News Director at,

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