So as the curtain draws across the final few days what did the great and good of the channel think about 2010 and what did it mean to them.
"There has been continued margin pressure on the channel but overall the markets that we play in have remained relatively strong. Also, despite the overall economy, IT security has remained a "must-have" - primarily driven by regulatory compliance. Areas such as virtualisation and cloud have grown sharply for us, and this trend looks set to continue. Technology that helps customers migrate from physical to virtual environments has been extremely hot, benefitting vendors such as Akorri and the Virtual Machine Company. We've also seen strong growth in the business continuity space as executives put this high on the agenda; clearly, the cloud is playing an important part in this as customers ditch their historic reliance on technologies, like tape backup, in favour of this approach. Finally, the trend of customers wanting to move to an OPEX-based consumption model for IT has continued. This has driven the requirement of service-driven sales in areas like Infrastructure and security. The "pay as you go" model has also attracted a lot of traction over the latter part of the year and we think this signifies an important trend."
David Ellis, director of new technology at ComputerLinks
"We saw activity return to the levels of a couple of years ago. Whilst speaking to most of our clients there is a definite sense that we are past the worst and that there is a clear investment in technology again although mostly prompted by organisations seeking efficiencies in working practices. We are seeing a very strong demand for CRM and collaboration projects for those businesses looking to gain advantage on their competitors. Our financial software teams had seen a slowdown but new buyers are definitely re-entering the market with projects that were previously postponed now becoming active again."
Matt Garman, director at dhc
"For the market in general, people were being very careful about making purchases in 2010. Just because there were new IP solutions on the market, businesses weren't throwing out their old fixed line phones. However, we did start to see more companies take an interest in IP and the possibilities it offers. With the limitations of standard telephony becoming more apparent, users want to know how IP telephony can cut costs and improve the efficiency of the business."
Jonathan Greenwood, MD at snom UK
"Despite forecasts for 2010 predicting doom and gloom, we have seen success for the channel sector in the growth of cloud and virtualisation. These two areas in particular have demonstrated rapid cost savings to customers in a time when the pressure is on to do more with less. For an end-user, IT managers reducing costs whilst delivering enhanced services to their user base is not an easy task. However, this has allowed forward thinking resellers to truly advise their clients on best actions to take and as a result of reducing client's costs, they have grown their own sales in these new lucrative areas of technology. Cloud and SaaS (Software as a Service) has also started to level the playing field, with many smaller VARs able to compete on larger client opportunities due to the scale and backing that cloud providers bring. We have seen resellers able to back the support and running of the cloud to the vendor and focus on their sales and customer relationship capabilities - rather than just the size of their own technical resources. Additionally, we have also started to see a new breed of reseller emerge as we witness new SaaS only resellers join the mix. These apply a more cost efficient business model and do not require the costly infrastructure of engineers or back end costs that are normally associated with a reseller that has to support installations and fixes. On the whole, 2010 has been a cloudy time for the channel, but for many it has emerged to be a Cloud with a Silver lining."
Ian Moyse, EMEA channel director at Webroot and a Member of the Cloud Industry Forum Governance Board
"Customers and the channel are benefiting from how the industry is coming together on virtual desktop technology. We've seen both Citrix and VMware make major releases this year that raise the bar on what is possible. And now Cisco's new VXI offering spotlights how unified communications and desktop virtualization can be combined too. In all these and other cases, Wyse is at the forefront on how cloud client computing exploits these developments to the best advantage for our customers and their end users.
David Angwin, director of marketing, Wyse
"Working with our customers we saw that efficiency was the name of the game in 2010 and that is likely to continue well into 2011. Budgets needed to be worked harder than ever before, yet it hasn't all been doom and gloom. Take the education sector, which has been threatened with huge cuts for most of the year. It will actually see in many cases a budget increase of 5% or more, so over the last 12 months it has been important that we continued to develop our partnerships with end-user local government bodies and our key channel partners. From a technology perspective, we have continued to see more convergence technologies being adopted as organisations look to rationalise and maximise their IT investments. For example, in 2010 we have seen more organisations move their interest from CCTV into IP surveillance technologies due to the huge amount of efficiencies they can bring as part of the business network infrastructure and resources."
Chris Davies, general manager D-Link UK & Ireland
"This year we have seen more and more interest in the adoption of cloud computing. As a cloud provider, customers are coming to our partners and us because they are simply fed up with the cost and pain of managing certain aspects of their IT infrastructure. They want more choice and flexibility around IT and cloud delivers on this. It allows them to eliminate the risks associated with large scale IT implementations and upfront investment; they can try an application and if it demonstrates business benefits then great, if not they can simply turn the service off."
Rob Lovell, CEO, ThinkGrid
"2010 has been incredibly hard work but also, very encouraging as the UK and Europe have started to emerge from the recession. We have seen high growth rates coming through in the UK which we have achieved through constantly evolving our offering as well as competing hard in the market. During the first half of 2010, organisations 'paused' i.e. customers only bought when it was critical for the short-term needs of the business whereas in the second half, growing confidence has resulted in double-digit growth in sales for us across the board. There has been strong growth in virtualisation and storage coupled with a fillip from our Specialty Data Centre Distribution partnership with Cisco for unified data centres. Lastly, what's been interesting is that our training business that was hit hard in the recession has started to return to normal."
Andrew Binding, vice-president, Northern Europe region, at Magirus
"We have seen a strong uptake in Platform HPC and cloud offerings and I expect that this trend will continue in the coming years as CEBR has predicted that widespread adoption of cloud computing will give the top five EU economies (Germany, France, UK, Italy and Spain) a £645bn boost over five years. This observation is further supported by our own research that shows that efficiency and cost cutting are the main drivers for deploying cloud solutions.
Christoph Reichert, VP EMEA, at Platform Computing