Channel Marker


March 13, 2019  6:23 PM

Synechron demos asset tokenization on blockchain

John Moore John Moore Profile: John Moore
Blockchain, consultants, Emerging technologies

Synechron, a consulting firm focusing on financial services, is applying emerging digital strategies such as asset tokenization in the rapidly growing wealth management industry.

The New York-based company earlier this month launched its Wealth Tech Accelerator program, which aims to marshal technology, data science and analytics in support of wealth management firms. The scope of Synechron’s endeavor ranges from developing new blockchain-based investment channels to improving the client onboarding process.

Firms in the wealth management industry are looking to attract and retain high-net-worth investors, which represent a steadily expanding pool of assets. According to tax and advisory firm EY, net investable assets already top $55 trillion globally and are expect to grow to nearly $70 trillion by 2021. “Wealth managers should be anticipating and seizing this market potential and enormous growth now,” noted EY’s wealth management outlook.

Asset tokenization to open investor opportunities

The asset tokenization component of Synechron’s Wealth Tech Accelerator could potentially, over time, cultivate a still larger pool of investors and capital. Asset tokenization fractionalizes the ownership rights to different types of assets — from fine art to real estate — into digital coins, or tokens, via blockchain. Blockchain is used to manage those rights. Tim Coates, who heads the blockchain business at Synechron, believes asset tokenization will create new investment opportunities in the wealth management space, with smaller investors, in particular, standing to benefit.

Tim Coates

“People excluded because of lack of size can buy into non-traditional assets,” Coates noted.

Coates referred to Synechron’s asset tokenization accelerator as a concept it is demonstrating for customers, rather than a product it is ready to monetize. The company’s asset tokenization demo is based on the Ethereum public blockchain and uses open source protocols. Those components include Harbor, a blockchain-based platform and compliance protocol for tokenized securities, and 0x, a protocol for decentralized exchanges — peer-to-peer marketplaces for asset-backed tokens.

The objective for asset tokenization technology is to provide the controls and feature sets regulated securities require, Coates explained.

Client onboarding taps OCR, NLP, RPA

Synechron, meanwhile, taps optical character recognition (OCR), natural language processing (NLP) and robotic process automation (RPA) to ease the client onboarding process. In this aspect of the company’s wealth management tech accelerator, OCR and NLP are used to scan a new customer’s ID and extract the relevant data. An RPA-created workflow then automatically populates the wealth manager’s client onboarding forms with the data, noted Diana Kearns-Manolatos, global head of marketing at Synechron.

This accelerator, which uses technologies including OpenNLP,  focuses on both account onboarding and know your customer (KYC) requirements. The idea behind this accelerator is to help financial institutions collect KYC and due diligence information without making the process overly cumbersome, according to Synechron.

Diana Kearns-Manolatos

Indeed, a wealth manager’s digital customer acquisition process is especially important since it has the dual purpose of collecting important customer data and improving the customer experience, Kearns-Manolatos said.

“It is really the first impression for a new customer,” she said.

March 12, 2019  6:07 PM

HPE Partner Ready highlights solution architect role in channel sales

Spencer Smith Spencer Smith Profile: Spencer Smith
Channel partners, HPE, professional training, Solution Architect

Hewlett Packard Enterprise has rolled out a new technical enablement resource that targets HPE partner solution architects.

The Tech Pro Community, launched globally today, aims to connect solution architects with training and the vendor’s internal presales team. The move in part supports HPE’s focus on solution selling, as well as what it views as the growing importance of the solution architect role.

“[HPE recognizes] there is a big shift happening in the way customers buy IT. …. Increasingly, the line-of-business leaders are involved in the IT decisions, and what they are buying is business outcomes,” said Brian Beneda, senior manager of global technical enablement at HPE, in an interview.

Beneda said that the solution architect role, which collects customers’ business requirements and translates them into technical solutions, is critical in a purchasing model that emphasizes business outcomes.

HPE Tech Pro Community a hub for solution architects

The Tech Pro Community is open to all HPE partners that have the minimum of an HPE Accredited Technical Professional certification, according to HPE. After joining the community, online users can access educational tracks around HPE technologies and industry trends. Members can also use the platform to earn HPE Accredited Solution Expert (ASE) and Master ASE certifications.

Beneda noted that the Tech Pro Community pulls together what was previously a fragmented set of technical training resources. “What we haven’t done up until now is make it easier for a channel partner solution architect to get access to all the training, the expertise, the content and the people inside of HPE that they need to exercise the power of [HPE] in front of their customers,” he said.

The training available through the Tech Pro Community is the same that HPE provides its internal teams, he added.

HPE also said the Tech Pro Community gives members a chance to connect with other partner and internal solution architects, through both online collaboration and in-person events. Beneda said the vendor is trying to “cross-pollinate” its partner and internal solution architect communities.

HPE’s transition to solution-oriented sales

HPE has been refocusing its HPE partner training on solution architects and solution selling for about a year, Beneda said. The introduction of the Tech Pro Community is a result of those efforts.

“What we had done in the past was very product-focused. … We will continue to have these specialist tracks. But the transition we are seeing from a market perspective is the demand” for the solution architect role, Beneda said.


February 25, 2019  7:46 PM

Thoma Bravo to buy ConnectWise MSP software business

Spencer Smith Spencer Smith Profile: Spencer Smith
Acquisitions, ConnectWise, IT Managed Service, MSP, RMM Software

MSP software provider ConnectWise has revealed plans to be acquired by Thoma Bravo, a private equity investment firm.

According to ConnectWise, the transaction is expected to close on Feb. 28. Following the transaction, ConnectWise COO Jason Magee will become the company’s CEO. Arnie Bellini, ConnectWise’s founder and CEO, will step into an advisory role.

“After five years of thoughtful consideration, evaluation and interviewing [private equity firms], we selected Thoma Bravo, because they are very excited about” ConnectWise’s strategies, partner community and vision, Bellini said in an interview.

Thoma Bravo’s portfolio contains notable MSP software companies, including remote monitoring and management (RMM) vendors Continuum and SolarWinds. Thoma Bravo also owns security and data protection vendor Barracuda Networks, which early this month revealed plans to acquire Avast’s RMM software, Managed Workplace.

Other Thoma Bravo-acquired companies include security vendors McAfee, Centrify, DigiCert and Imperva; networking vendor Riverbed; and visual analytics company Qlik.

Bellini said one of the reasons ConnectWise selected Thoma Bravo was its expertise in the software-as-a-service industry.

“If you look at [Thoma Bravo’s] portfolio, current and past, they have an amazing track record — I would say the best track record — of creating success with software-as-a-service companies,” Bellini said.

What’s ahead for ConnectWise users

ConnectWise won’t veer from its commitment to its MSP software user base, Bellini said. Thoma Bravo and ConnectWise have co-developed a five-year strategic plan that will adhere to ConnectWise’s established vision and roadmap, he said.

Magee, who joined ConnectWise in 2011 and was appointed COO in 2016, said ConnectWise partners can expect to see the cybersecurity offerings outlined at the 2018 IT Nation Connect conference. Additionally, ConnectWise will focus on providing advanced education and go-to-market tools for as-a-service businesses, as well continue developing a “connected ecosystem” around its platform.

Bellini also noted acquisitions on the horizon. “We made four acquisitions last year, and we plan on making some nice acquisitions now that we also have the benefit of Thoma Bravo,” Bellini said.

ConnectWise’s 2018 acquisitions included HTG Peer Groups, managed security services provider Sienna Group, and cloud software development firm HashInclude Computech. In 2018, the company also invested in Perch Security, a threat intelligence vendor.

Restructuring ConnectWise

As part of the Thoma Bravo deal, ConnectWise will undergo an organizational restructuring, Bellini said. The company will eliminate 110 positions and add 70 new positions to align to the strategy co-created with Thoma Bravo.

“In year two, three, four and five of our strategy, we are going to be adding … new jobs and opportunities here at the company,” Bellini said.

Bellini noted that ConnectWise is taking an active role in helping employees affected by the organizational restructuring land on their feet. He said ConnectWise has hired outside consultants and is contacting recruiting firms to place laid-off employees in new career opportunities.

ConnectWise IT, the Tampa, Fla.-based IT services provider that had originally developed ConnectWise’s software, is not part of the Thoma Bravo acquisition, Bellini said. He said he will be rebranding ConnectWise IT and continue to  oversee the company.


February 15, 2019  10:03 PM

Microsoft partner training offers self-assessment tool

John Moore John Moore Profile: John Moore
Channel, Channel partners, IT training, Microsoft

An important part of education is determining what you need to learn. Microsoft partner training aims to help service providers in that regard, launching a self-assessment tool Feb. 15.

The tool, dubbed the Transformation Readiness Assessment, lets partners figure out the “next steps to increase [their] proficiencies and extend … practice development and service opportunities,” according to Microsoft. The tool assesses partners’ business and technology capabilities and then steers them toward the appropriate training and enablement resources.

Melissa Mulholland, director of cloud profitability at Microsoft, said the partner assessment tool’s business section covers such topics as sales and marketing, while the tool’s technical solution component measures the partner’s standing in AI and business apps among other areas. The partner tool resides on the Microsoft Partner Network.

“The assessment tool is a way to measure [a partner’s] capability and areas where a partner can grow,” Mulholland said.

Microsoft, meanwhile, is releasing new resources to help partners bolster their skills. For example, the company recently published a playbook for partners that focuses on recruiting, hiring, onboarding and retaining talent. Mulholland said the new playbook ties into the assessment tool in that it provides resources partners can use to improve human resources “capabilities that may need additional development based on the results of the assessment.”

With the new tool and playbook in place, the online platforms that deliver Microsoft partner training are getting a new look. Microsoft’s Training Center, a partner learning portal, has been refreshed. The portal offers training options based on a partner’s role — such as administrator, architect or developer — and the Microsoft technology they wish to pursue. Mulholland said Microsoft will continue to add content and additional roles such as data scientist.

The long-term Microsoft partner training vision, however, is based on the MS Learn platform. MS Learn has been geared primarily toward technical roles and offerings such as Microsoft Azure. But MS Learn has recently added content for Dynamics 365, and Microsoft 365 content is under development, according to Mulholland.

MS Learn eventually will serve as a one-stop-shop for training and certification across all Microsoft products and solutions, and the various roles associated with those products and solutions, Mulholland explained.


February 13, 2019  6:56 PM

2019 IBM partner program bolsters ecosystem approach

Spencer Smith Spencer Smith Profile: Spencer Smith
Channel partners, IBM, IBM PartnerWorld, Partner programs

IBM is doubling down on its channel ecosystem strategy this week with a raft of partner program updates.

The IBM ecosystem strategy was launched last year to engage a broad range of partner business types. Those included resellers, managed services providers, ISVs, developers and cloud services providers. Building on 2018 investments, IBM this week rolled out a number of new partner resources, many of which focus on enablement and collaboration.

Among the new resources was a partner-to-partner tool, IBM Business Partner Connect. Partner Connect uses Watson technology to help link up partners across the ecosystem to collaborate on customer accounts, said Dorothy Copeland, vice president of the North American IBM partner ecosystem, in an interview. For example, she said if an analytics-focused partner has a client interested in blockchain, Partner Connect could help identify IBM firms with blockchain expertise.

“A lot of times we will see our IBM partners … subcontract another partner underneath them in order to provide the skill set that they need for their clients,” Copeland said.

Training, cybersecurity enablement

On the training and certification front, IBM introduced the IBM Skills Gateway training platform, Copeland said. IBM Skills Gateway provides sales and technical education for partners and IBM’s internal sales team.

“One big piece of our focus is making sure … that we are providing our employees and … our partners the skills-building that they need,” Copeland said.

Copeland also noted forthcoming Red Hat training. IBM stated its intention to acquire Red Hat for $34 billion in November 2018. She said the Red Hat training will focus on products that IBM and Red Hat currently offer together, such as IBM Cloud Private on top of Red Hat OpenShift open-source container application platform.

“That’s a key area that we want to make sure we are enabling partners,” Copeland said of the Red Hat training.

Additionally, IBM rolled out a Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP) Program. The MSSP program aims to help partners develop cybersecurity businesses and is open to all partners that have either an active reseller or embedded solutions agreement with IBM, according to the vendor. Under the program, partners can earn financial rewards dubbed the Know Your IBM Security Sales Incentive.

Security is a high-growth area for many IBM Business Partners in North America, Copeland noted.

Other IBM partner program developments

Additional IBM partner program updates revealed this week included the following:

  • IBM Cloud Paks, which IBM said are container software packages with support for using open standards in hybrid and multicloud deployments. IBM said Cloud Paks are designed for Kubernetes and use IBM Cloud and IBM Cloud Private.
  • Software deal registration with priority access to special bid pricing. Copeland said partners have asked the software deal registration since she joined IBM about 18 months ago.
  • My PartnerWorld, a means for partners to manage various digital PartnerWorld tools in one place, IBM said.
  • ‘In It to Win It’ incentives for Power, Z and IBM LinuxOne.
  • New co-marketing resources for partners that embed IBM technology into their offerings.
  • Value Package 2.0 support bundle, which lets partners double their IBM Cloud credits. Value Package 2.0 also provides access to a development sandbox environment, discount vouchers for select education events and expanded subscription discounts.
  • The Cloud Digital Technical Engagement Program with support for product demos and tutorials.


February 5, 2019  9:42 PM

Solve IT recruiting challenges with nontraditional candidates

Spencer Smith Spencer Smith Profile: Spencer Smith
Channel partners, IT hiring, IT recruitment, IT staffing, MSP

If you’re a channel firm faced with recruiting challenges, perhaps it’s time to look outside the traditional talent pool.

That’s the advice of partner executives who are adopting innovative approaches for hiring tech talent. Channel firms are addressing IT skills shortages in a number of ways, such as launching IT apprenticeship programs.  But the most basic means for overcoming recruiting challenges, they said, is to broaden the scope of possible candidates.

“There are only so many strategies for addressing [the cybersecurity] talent gap, and one of them is definitely to look at nontraditional candidates,” said Eric Foster, CISO at Fishtech Group, a cybersecurity specialist located in Kansas City, Mo.

“I would definitely advise people to throw a lot of your preconceived notions about what the right candidate looks like out the window,” he added.

Revise your IT hiring paradigm

Foster said channel firms should look beyond standard work and educational qualifications to evaluate “a much wider range of candidates.”

He said Fishtech years ago decided to remove almost all requirements from job openings, including educational, certification, or work experience requirements.

In Fishtech’s staffing efforts today, Foster said he now looks for “attitude and aptitude” in candidates. “I will take that over experience, over certification, over the rest,” he said.

Amy Kardel, co-founder of Clever Ducks, a managed services provider based in San Luis Obispo, Calif., held a similar view on hiring tech talent. “We can train the technical skills. It is the attitude and soft skills, I think, that sometimes are the hardest to find,” she said.

Fishtech’s training methodology aims to accommodate new hires that lack conventional cybersecurity backgrounds, Foster said.

‘Always be recruiting’

Kardel advised channel firms to look for talent everywhere, especially out and about in everyday life. She is always in recruitment mode, she said. That includes when visiting coffee shops, where a barista might show desirable customer service skills.

“I think Uber drivers are another great pool,” she noted. “I have a friend who is always recruiting Uber drivers, because obviously they are showing hustle, too.”

Foster said Apple’s Genius Bars and Best Buy’s Geek Squads are great recruitment grounds. Those employees tend to have solid experience working with customers and trouble-shooting problems.

“There are a lot of [everyday situations] where you can always say, ‘Hey, there is opportunity over here. Come take a look,’ ” Kardel said.

“You know that line from Glengarry Glen Ross: ‘Always be closing’? The analogy to that is, ‘Always be recruiting,’ ” she added.


January 29, 2019  2:51 PM

7 business and technology trends for 2019

John Moore John Moore Profile: John Moore
Artificial intelligence, Blockchain, Channel partners, cloud, New technology

A new year is upon us. As you fine-tune your plans, consider these seven business and technology trends for 2019.

  1. A shifting competitive landscape

From ISVs to cloud ecosystem consultants, unconventional partner types will continue to gain ground in 2019. Forrester Research’s Jay McBain says ISVs will be the fastest growing partner type, expanding from some 10,000 to more than 1 million firms by 2028. Channel partners can collaborate with the emerging players, compete or acquire.

  1. More M&A on the way

With that latter strategy in mind, expect 2018’s blistering merger and acquisition pace to continue into 2019. Managed service providers and public cloud consulting specialists will remain popular acquisition targets, but the market might shift to the buyer’s side later in the year.

  1. Apprenticeships make a comeback

M&A deals, however, aren’t the only way to gain the expertise needed to compete. Look for the continued rise of IT apprenticeship programs in 2019. Such programs aim to cultivate technicians, software developers and cybersecurity specialists. Channel partners are beginning to develop apprenticeship programs, partnering with state and local governments, trade schools and other organizations.

  1. Demand for cloud cost management

Helping customers manage growing cloud deployments will continue to keep partners busy as one of the top technology trends for 2019. Their top chores will include working with clients to keep cloud budgets under control, a task complicated by complex, multi-cloud environments. How big is the issue? A Softchoice survey found 57% of IT leaders said they exceeded their cloud budgets.

  1. Edge computing gets smarter

While cloud becomes the innovation foundation for cloud and blockchain, partners can also expect edge computing technology to continue its drive toward greater intelligence. More compute and AI capabilities will become embedded in edge devices, leading to an “intelligence of things.”

  1. Mixed signals on emerging tech

Blockchain and AI continue to capture the imagination, but the technologies will be subject to uncertainty in 2019. Blockchain projects are underway in verticals from financial services to healthcare, but the path the technology will ultimately take and whether it will become as transformative as predicted are still unknowns. AI, meanwhile, attracts interest from partners, yet some struggle to deploy the technology.

  1. AI for the masses?

Technology prognosticators at Deloitte consider the democratization of AI as one of the key technology trends for 2019. AI services offered through public cloud platforms will simplify AI development and broaden market acceptance, according to the consulting firm. Deloitte also points to 5G as an important development, noting U.S. business will soon need assistance determining whether the technology is a fit.

Outlook

These business and technology trends for 2019 point to a complicated year ahead for MSPs, cloud consultancies and other IT service providers. Non-traditional rivals and new partner combinations born of M&A activity will make for a somewhat unsettling environment. Cloud consulting, migration and management will continue to generate opportunities, especially for partners who can address perplexing cloud cost management issues. And emerging fields such as AI and blockchain may or may not bear fruit for partners this year.


January 22, 2019  2:27 PM

Citrix partners play role in vendor’s cloud push

John Moore John Moore Profile: John Moore
Channel partners, Citrix, Citrix Workspace Services, cloud

Citrix’s continuing transition into the cloud business is getting a reinforcing push from Citrix partners, with newcomers playing a role.

The company transacted business with more than 6,100 partners in 2018, 900 of which were first-time Citrix partners. That’s about 15% of the transaction volume. Among the new partners are many born-in-the-cloud partners and channel companies that have built a solid business moving customers’ workloads from on-premises systems to the cloud — with Microsoft Azure the typical target, noted Craig Stilwell, vice president of worldwide partner sales at Citrix.

“A lot of those [partners] have a strong Microsoft skillset,” he said.

Stilwell said the Microsoft skillset translates well into Citrix technology. Indeed, Citrix and Microsoft have a long-standing technology alliance. That alliance has multiple threads including the ability to offer customers virtual desktop infrastructure with Citrix Cloud services on Microsoft Azure. Citrix Cloud is a platform that lets organizations create digital workspaces for users from a single console.

While Citrix and Microsoft offer technology integration, the companies also aim to coordinate channels as well. Citrix Solution Advisors and Microsoft service providers, for instance, can tap the Azure Marketplace to sell a combined offering consisting of Citrix Workspace, Microsoft 365 licensing and Azure cloud capacity. To further underscore the channel partnering point, Gavriella Schuster, corporate vice president, One Commercial Partner Organization, at Microsoft, was on stage at Citrix Partner Summit 2019 to talk about the companies’ collaboration.

Beyond virtualization

Citrix, meanwhile, set the channel groundwork for the cloud direction in 2018, revamping its partner program with subscription revenue and Citrix Cloud in mind. At Citrix Partner Summit 2019, held in January, the cloud focus continued as an important theme. Stilwell said products such as Citrix Workspace, which is powered via Citrix Cloud, will dramatically expand the addressable market for Citrix technology. Citrix’s traditional desktop and application virtualization products meet about 30% of a customer’s desktop computing needs. But with Citrix’s cloud-based offerings, the other 70% is in now in play.

“This is the year we really go beyond virtualization,” Stilwell said.

Cloud and subscription-based revenue are already making an impact at Citrix. The company’s SaaS business grew more than 200% in 2018. Another data point: The Citrix Service Provider business crossed 1.7 million active-user-per-month threshold at end of the 2018. Citrix Service Provider companies, a partner program subset, offer desktop as a service, application hosting and other subscription-based technologies.

“The service provider business is mostly a subscription consumption business,” Stilwell said, noting that business is growing 33% year over year.

To support its cloud and subscription momentum, Citrix has tweaked its rebate program to reward Citrix partners that get customers up and running on Citrix Cloud as quickly as possible. The idea is to focus on customer adoption and cloud consumption.

Citrix, Stilwell said, has moved “some incentives away from on-premises, perpetual maintenance renewals and shifted that toward driving real adoption, real usage of Citrix Cloud.” 

Citrix partners span enterprises, SMBs

Citrix’s ‘beyond virtualization’ initiative is getting a lift from a range of partner types. At one end of the spectrum, large global systems integrators are helping Citrix land projects. DXC Technology, for example, is teaming with Citrix at Saab on a digital workspace project that relies on Citrix Workspace as a key component.

“We’ll … continue to work more and more with large global systems integrator companies like DXC,” Stilwell said. “However, that doesn’t mean we are going away from the regional systems integrators and regional partners that we work with.”

Indeed, while the global integrators bring in large-scale projects with enterprises such as Saab, Citrix Service Provider companies will focus more on small and medium-sized businesses.

“We will continue to expand on both fronts,” Stilwell said.


December 21, 2018  8:24 PM

2018 in review: Top 10 IT industry trend stories for channel partners

Spencer Smith Spencer Smith Profile: Spencer Smith
Channel partners, Cloud Computing, Emerging technologies, IT services, MSP

Before getting started on your 2019 business plans, take a few moments to review our most-read feature stories of the year. Most of these stories focus on emerging IT industry trends that will continue to develop. Others deal with channel partner business issues that will undoubtedly remain challenges.

  1. Cloud profitability eludes channel partners

While research has found broad channel acceptance of the cloud, some reports show cloud services contributing only a small percentage of partners’ overall business. How can partners position their cloud offerings to make money?

  1. New storage vendors offer fresh takes technology, partnerships

Nontraditional primary and secondary storage vendors have been getting the attention of resellers and MSPs. In this feature story, senior site editor John Moore profiles two storage upstarts — Clearsky Data and Reduxio — and how they stand out against their better-known enterprise storage competitors.

  1. How to add device as a service to your line card

The predicted upswing in the device-as-a-service market sparked vendors such as Dell Technologies, Lenovo and HP to launch offerings. Contributor Nicole Lewis provides an overview at this evolving opportunity and how device as a service could affect partners’ current strategies.

  1. Tips for targeting the next-gen UCaaS market

Customer organizations are seeing the benefits of migrating their communications technology and collaboration applications to the cloud. Channel partners should weigh several factors when pursuing the relatively untapped unified-communications-as-a-service market.

  1. Business model transformation in the cloud era

Emerging IT industry trends have  pressured channel partners to transition to new business models. In this feature story, we provide advice for financing channel partner business transitions, evaluating new lines of business, working with vendors and more.

  1. Channel partners explore machine learning use cases

Companies like Accenture and Microsoft partner KenSci Inc. are experimenting with machine learning algorithms and tools. Nicole Lewis’s article explains how the machine learning is primed to transform business and why channel partners should be paying attention.

  1. Weighing SAP’s vision for widespread S/4HANA migration

Partners are developing new strategies in response to SAP’s plans to move its customer base to S/4HANA by 2025. In this feature story by contributor Esther Shein, SAP partners Presence of IT and Symmetry share their views of SAP’s bold S/4HANA vision.

  1. The channel develops data analytics services practices

Channel firms have taken unique approaches to find success in the data analytics services space. Esther Shein highlights the strategies of three leading data analytics services providers: Accenture, DXC Technologies and Wipro.

  1. Is AWS Managed Services a threat to MSPs?

When Amazon Web Services announced its managed services offering in late 2016, industry watchers questioned whether AWS would encroach on MSPs’ traditional territory. As of 2018, managed services providers haven’t seen a negative impact on their businesses.

  1. Robotic process automation hits a new milestone

Alliances between channel firms and RPA software vendors signal a new phase in software robot implementation. In our most-read feature of 2018, John Moore examines RPA adoption trends and channel opportunities surrounding deployments.


December 21, 2018  2:53 PM

Dell EMC, IBM partner moves top 2018 channel stories

Spencer Smith Spencer Smith Profile: Spencer Smith
Channel partners, Datto, Dell EMC, IBM, Microsoft, Partner programs

Before wrapping up 2018, take a moment to review some of our most-read news stories from the year.

In 2018, we saw the industry’s heavyweight vendors, such as IBM, Microsoft and Dell EMC, doubling-down and refining their partner strategies. Readers kept tabs on IBM amid its companywide reinvention, specifically IBM’s efforts to modernize the IBM partner ecosystem. Microsoft also caught readers’ attention as the vendor ramped up focus on vertical market opportunities. Meanwhile, Dell EMC kicked off the first anniversary of its post-merger partner program by setting a $50 billion channel business goal.

In addition to vendors’ channel moves, readers took note of partner projects involving emerging technology, notably blockchain projects. Accenture’s projects are featured in two of the stories below. In the first, Accenture debuted an international border security system that combines blockchain and biometrics. In the second, we learn about Accenture’s alliance with Walt Disney Studios to apply blockchain, VR and machine learning to film production and entertainment.

Don’t overlook our third most-read news story, which explores why sales and marketing continues to vex managed service providers (MSPs).

  1. Datto adds partners amid global expansion

Data protection and MSP software vendor Datto saw its customer base grow to more than 13,000 partners in 2018. The vendor said its 2017 merger with Autotask, combined with expansion into international markets, led to the boost.

  1. Citrix reboots partner incentives program

Launched at Citrix Summit 2018, Citrix Ultimate Rewards integrated the vendor’s channel incentives into one streamlined program. Citrix also revealed new discount and rebate programs at the partner event.

  1. IBM to educate SMBs on its modern portfolio

IBM acknowledged that small and medium-sized businesses weren’t all that clear on its pivot to modern infrastructure. As a result, the vendor said 2018 marketing initiatives would seek to better explain the newly transformed IBM.

  1. IBM unleashes new partner ecosystem strategy

IBM made news again when it revised the IBM partner strategy. John Teltsch, IBM’s global channel chief, explained the company’s efforts to embrace both traditional IBM partner firms and newer partner types, including ISVs and developers.

  1. Microsoft doubles-down on industry focus

At its Inspire 2018 conference, Microsoft continued to tout its strategy for targeting vertical market opportunities. Microsoft also emphasized co-selling as an important approach, encouraging partners to link up with its internal salesforce on deals.

  1. Accenture, Synechron debut blockchain projects

Accenture introduced the Known Traveler Digital Identity system, which uses blockchain and biometrics for international border security. Meanwhile, Synechron used the Ethereum blockchain in a RegTech project for a custodian bank.

  1. Dell EMC boasts fourth-quarter rise in channel sales

Dell EMC said its indirect sales revenue was up 19% in the fourth quarter and 12% for the full fiscal year, an indication that its post-merger channel strategy is working. Q4 results also showed Dell EMC made share gains in the PC market and PowerEdge and cloud servers, but sluggish growth in storage.

  1. Will MSPs come to grips with marketing?

Sales and marketing has proven itself a perennial pain point for managed service providers. 2018 was no exception. Research published by Datto found that more than half of the MSPs surveyed cited sales and marketing as a top challenge for their businesses.

  1. Accenture-Disney alliance delves into emerging technology

Accenture partnered with Walt Disney Studios to explore blockchain, virtual and augmented reality, and machine learning. The initiative will look at how the emerging technology can help reshape entertainment experiences and film production environments.

  1. Dell EMC: Next stop, $50 billion channel business

Following the one-year anniversary of its post-merger partner program, Dell EMC said it aimed to grow its $43 billion channel business to $50 billion. Dell EMC asserted that it needed only to make minor changes to its partner program and resources to hit that target.


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