Canvassing opinions about just what 2016 holds reveals there is a fair amount of optimism about the financial prospects as well as the technology that should be having an impact.
2016 promises to see even more collaboration across the channel, as key vendors start to recognise and support it. It is also a year where customers have started to outsource (cloud or managed services) in order to focus more on their own business. Compliance is being seen as the red herring that it is and more companies are focussing on outcomes rather than inputs.
Between adopting Windows 10, switching from Server 2003, and preparing for the end of SQL Server 05, 2015 proved to be a busy year for enterprise IT departments. Unfortunately, looking at our migration timeline, it doesn’t appear that this pace of change is likely to slow down in 2016. If anything, it’s just going to get worse.
The good news is that Microsoft is continuously making these updates easier to manage; the bad news is that we are reaching a point where technological change is so rapid and so saturating that businesses simply cannot cope. As it stands there are still organisations trying to finalise the move from XP to Windows 7. As such, the idea that in 2016 Windows 7 will be on the way out can seem pretty daunting.
Still, businesses should not try to ignore or hide from these upgrades. Fundamentally, every missed update or uninstalled service pack represents a potential hole in an organisation’s security – not to mention the costly compliance implications.
In the information age, technology is fundamentally tied to a business’ bottom line. Whether through government regulation, employee expectations, or just plain customer experiences, ensuring your IT is up to date is more vital than ever before. Your technology is your business. If it’s behind the curve, then you’re behind the curve.
Ross Baker, UK sales and channel director for Trend Micro
In 2016 we predict more and more customers buying software as a service. Literally to buy what they need. The days of buying 5000 users for 3 years upfront are slowing down. The customer needs a certain consumption model one day and a different model the next. Their IT demands are potentially greater on a Friday than they were the Monday before. AWS, Microsoft Azure and to an extent VMWare are vendor partners we “attach” to in these scenarios. Security savvy partners who see that opportunity will be the most successful in 2016.
Ron Leon, director, global channels at RF Code
Cloud computing continues to influence end-user spending habits and as a result has affected how channel partners choose to evaluate new solutions and services in the market. End-users want their IT solutions to deliver business value as well as financial savings. This has been particularly true in the data centre sector this year – an observation reflected by many of our own channel partners. They have strengthened their relationships with us because of the rapid ROI possible with RF Code. The Internet of Things (IoT) has also emerged as one of the most significant topics of the year. Resellers are now interested in sensor networks and analytics software that can be integrated into wider service portfolios. 2016 could likely continue this trend, especially as the channel begins to gain a greater understanding of how to utilise IoT solutions for the benefit of end-users.
Rupert Collier, senior channel manager UK & Ireland at Paessler AG
Start-ups and SMBs no longer want to tie up valuable capital in depreciating IT assets, so the more they can outsource to trustworthy, reliable partners, the simpler life becomes for them. Unified monitoring lends itself well to a cloud-provisioned model and we have recently introduced a new license model to further enable MSPs to deliver a high quality service. Customers that do want to retain control in house are seeing more and more responsibilities being added to the remit of IT. We see this with such things as VoIP, IPTV, building automation systems, and the so-called “Internet of Things”. Previously inanimate objects are being given a digital heartbeat and this presents IT staff with the headache of how to monitor them. PRTG is a highly adaptable product and this is rapidly becoming one of the most important criteria in customers’ selection processes.
Mark Johnson, channel sales director, UK & Ireland, at Veeam
Investment will continue to be a top priority, we want to build on our existing success and the team is committed to increasing its investments and developments with our with channel partners, as well as build on our existing success by investing more in the upper-mid markets and the enterprise space. With more companies adopting an always-on business strategy, next year Veeam Availability Suite v9 will ensure that we help companies save time, mitigate risks and reduce capital. I've looked into my crystal ball and the future looks bright green.
There have been significant changes to the security landscape in 2015, including the increasing pace of change from relying on gateway defences, to the evolving of a broader security view which accepts that breaches can and will occur. The increased awareness by businesses of the risks and the consequences of failure, coupled with the continued shift to mobility and cloud, will continue to create an increased requirement on the channel to provide both advice, services, solutions and support around security threats and defences. Public awareness of both the threats and consequences of security failure will continue to grow, as will the requirements on the channel to explain, deliver and support solutions that not only address the threats, bus also increasingly provide the reporting and overview that enables stakeholders to be more confident that they have taken adequate steps to protect themselves.
This provides major opportunities for the channel, as well as the increased challenge of identifying, training and supporting new solutions to increasingly aware customers. For those that embrace that challenge, the rewards will be significant, both in products and services, as well as enhancing their status as trusted advisors. Vendors and distributors will be key in supporting initial implementations as well as in providing the training and tools to enable the channel to provide a vital role in securing Business UK against a significant increase in the cyber threat landscape.
Ankush Korla, VP channel sales Emea at Commvault
Looking forward to 2016, there will be a continued used of the middle ground of on- premise, hybrid and cloud models for data management. Software providers will continue to expand and refine their offerings, making 2016 the year of hybrid cloud scenarios becoming the norm. Presently, there is a debate about what putting your data into the cloud means. In 2016, we expect the journey to and from the cloud to continue for the customers and expect our partners accelerating their transformation to a services and cloud led models .
Andrew Thomson, channel manager Emea at Centrify
Cloud, mobility, the “internet of things” are all creating massive security problems for IT departments to manage, the corporate firewall has so many ports open for these devices it’s looking like a swiss cheese. Customers are embracing our philosophy, that Identity is the new perimeter. And our partners are reaping the rewards by being an early adopter of this new philosophy. We expect 2016 will see deployment of even more devices and a further eroding of the traditional firewall, we’re excited by what that will bring.
Alistair Forbes, general manager at LOGICnow
The evolution of the IT landscape in small and medium sized businesses towards cloud services is continuing to gather pace. We have been predicting for the last three years that it is going to lead IT Service Providers to change the mix of skill sets within their companies and we believe 2016 is going to be the year this really hits home for large numbers of MSPs. Skill sets that were highly prized and remunerated, such as the expert exchange administrator, are going to be less and less required within MSP businesses and there will be a need for service managers working with external application providers. This will cause significant turmoil within the segment, as companies have to retrain or replace people that may have been the cornerstone of their business in previous years.
2016 is likely to be a year in which the rate of adoption of Infrastructure-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service will increase significantly. Software-as-a-Service offerings are already mainstream and MSPs have accepted, with greater or lesser willingness, the inevitability of this becoming the dominant platform over time. Office365 growth rates are increasing and most MSPs are supporting this for at least some of their customers. However, adoption of Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure are at much lower levels in the SMB space – we believe that 2016 will see a substantial increase in the adoption and use of these platforms.
Julian Fielden, managing director of OCF
Next year, there will still be lots of talk about cloud, big data, and infrastructure on demand; the technological advances will continue to come. Intel is still a dominant player in processor computing and this will continue to be the case in 2016. IBM has re-energised its power processor business and is very active with its OpenPOWER Foundation. I’d certainly expect to see further momentum of OpenPOWER architecture next year.
There is also so much machine driven data being generated now, with the Internet of Things, and everything being monitored as well, that there will be a continuing need for storage and data analytics. With our own in-house team and multiple vendor certifications, we are in a particularly good position to ride the uptake of analytics activity.
Jens Puhle, UK managing director at 8MAN
We see a real opportunity and sense of growth in the UK channel market for 2016. It is because of this predicted growth that we have set up a base in London, are preparing to launch our UK channel program and recruit new partners in 2016. The numerous cyber attacks and incidents of data loss from 2015 have resulted in a surge of activity from those organisations that don’t want to be the next newspaper headline. The risk to the organisation’s reputation and revenue is significant, more so with the EU General Data Protection Directive right around the corner, and it appears that risk now far outweighs the initial expenditure that is needed to ensure their network and data is effectively secure.
The key to success will be in continued training and education. We are all aware of the time and resource pressures that IT teams are facing on a daily basis so it will be important to provide them with the right solutions and guidance to make their jobs easier. By bringing greater visibility and awareness of what is happening in their network, it will help identify potential threats to security and enable remediation. Moreover, we are particularly focussed on helping organisations manage the challenges associated with insider threats and monitoring whether the right employees have access to right data. All too often default access to all areas of the network are granted to new hires and employees because it is seen as easier than going through the due diligence process and allocating access based on what they need to see to enable them to do their jobs. This leaves the organisation wide open to potential data loss and insider hack attacks.”
In 2016, the UK economy won’t grow quite as strongly as it was hoped six months ago, but it will grow 2-3 percent, in line with its long term average growth rate. However, I still have some concerns over the effect that China, Russia, Greece and others in the Eurozone will have on sentiment and confidence. As Networks First’s market is purely with the UK channel, we will start 2016 from a positive position where the UK economy will be helping us a little. As we continue to grow our network security business, the increasing publicity given to network security issues helps to remind business leaders that they are playing with fire if they don’t take network security absolutely seriously. This factor is likely to be more significant for growth than the state of the general economy for our business in 2016.