James Thew - Fotolia

2016: Predictions from around the channel

Thoughts from the industry on what's in store for the channel and beyond in 2016

As we prepare to bid farewell to 2015, switch off our PCs, roast chestnuts on the open fire, drink to excess and spend a few sacred moments with loved ones, we thought now would be a good time to turn to industry folk for their insight about what 2016 might hold.

An end to vendor lock-in 

Martin Hester, regional partner director for UK&I and Southern Europe at Juniper Networks, believes that 2016 will be the year that channel partners demand a more open relationship with their vendors.

“Customers are demanding open solutions that are seamless, scalable, and flexible to business needs,” Hester said. “In 2016, customers will look for technology partnerships and channel providers with integrated vendors to avoid vendor lock-in.”

“Channel partners will gain more bargaining power and get more selective in 2016, only creating alliances with vendors who enable them to offer best-of-breed solutions and custom offerings for their customers to support the desire for open, and easily integrated solutions.”

Ian McEwan, VP and General Manager, EMEA at Egnyte agrees.

“Today’s businesses are collaborating and working using a variety of different services and tools, across different locations,” he says. “IT departments are coming to the realisation that they must support this variation to keep the end user happy and productive – standardising on one service is no longer an option.”

"In 2016, technology vendors, aware of this situation, will look to ensure that their technology can be integrated with as many other enterprise services as possible, and are available across different apps and services. We can even expect competing vendors to offer integration with each other to give the end user more choice. In essence, this means that vendor lock-in could become all but dead next year.”

Channel will move increasingly into managed services

Tris Simmons, senior product marketing manager EMEA, NETGEAR, believes that channel players will see themselves falling increasingly into managed service provider roles.

“With the increased adoption and understanding of next-generation technology such as cloud, BYOD and the Internet of Things in 2015, we can expect to see even more channel partners move into a managed service provider role in 2016,” he said. “This will in fact enable channel partners to reinforce the importance of the procurement process and will increase revenue by selling full solutions rather than standalone products."

Simmons believes that selling end-to-end solutions will force channel partners to make significant changes to both the headcounts and skillsets.

Cyber attacks continue to be a thorn in the sides of businesses

2015 saw some of the most high profile cyber attacks in history. Sony Pictures, Ashley Madison, Tiscali and Apple - to name just a few. Security experts all agree that things are only going to get worse in 2016.

“The security threat landscape is constantly changing, as cyber criminals deploy old and new methods to expand their reach, exploit users, and gain access to valuable data,” said Corey Nachreiner, chief technology officer at WatchGuard. “To play better defence, we recommend following security best practices; training employees about threats and targeted social engineering techniques; and deploying the latest network security technologies so organisations identify security issues in real-time to address the majority of attacks we anticipate in 2016.”

Ransomware looks set to dig its ugly claws into a wide variety of new platforms over the coming year.

“We expect to see the success of Ransomware spread to new frontiers,” Kaspersky said. “Not only do we expect ransomware to gain ground on banking trojans but we also expect it to transition into other platforms. Weak attempts at bringing ransomware to mobile and Linux have already been witnessed, but perhaps the more desirable target platform is OS X. We expect ransomware to cross the Rubicon to not only target Macs but also charge ‘Mac prices’."

Internet of Things will finally expand beyond the smart fridge use case

“As products continue to develop and become more affordable, devices used in connected homes will become integrated into the business landscape with the uptake of mobile devices,” predicts NETGEAR.

“With this we can expect to see more frequent performance bottlenecks, periods of downtime and a level of sub-standard service across many businesses, as IT and network managers struggle to keep up with changing infrastructure requirements.”

As our world becomes increasingly indoctrinated with IP-based devices, the security ramifications will also become more apparent.

“2016 will be the year in which the Internet of Things flourishes, with more devices than ever connected to the Internet,” says Nachreiner. “With this in mind, cybercriminals will carry out attacks on these devices, as we have already seen in 2015 in the case of cars whose software is connected to the Internet, which allowed for the remote control of the vehicle.”

Kaspersky believes that Ransomware is likely to spread to IoT too. “There is the likelihood of IoT ransomware, begging the question, how much would you be willing to pay to regain access to your TV programming? Your fridge? Your car?”

It’s all about dat voice

Paul Dunne, head of channel sales for Plantronics, UK & Ireland, says that voice will be ‘the killer app’ for the UC channel in the year ahead.

“We have already seen a huge amount of activity around Unified Communications (UC) in the UK and some extremely successful deployments of UC in various flavours including voice collaboration and broadcasting,” Dunne points out. “However, most organisations that have deployed UC are really only using it for Instant Messenger and presence. Next year they will begin switching on voice as part of their UC implementation and that represents a massive opportunity for the channel.”

“I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that” 

Despite the fact that Siri and Cortana continue to frustrate millions of users on a daily basis, Dunne also believes that 2016 will be the year that digital personal assistants go mainstream.

“We will increasingly see people begin relying on these digital assistants at work and while travelling, an attractive proposition for businesses looking to increase employee productivity both in and out of the office.”

“2016 will also be a great year for those channel partners who are in the business of adding more value to their customers each day. Companies want guidance on how they can improve outcomes for the business, not just on the technology they are investing in, and channel partners will need to ensure they can help their customers realise the potential of their investments. Expect this trend to gain even more momentum in the New Year.”

On-premise, in the cloud and everywhere in between

Adrian Hipkiss, vice president and managing director EMEA at ShoreTel says that in 2016, the channel will need to offer ‘Cloud-as-a-Choice’, or… CaaC?

“Choice with cloud deployments needs to be aligned to business requirements for enterprise mobility, not products,” says Hipkiss. “Choosing the percentage in which an individual business has on-premise, cloud or a multitude of choices – hybrid – needs to be in the hands of the customer. Wherever the balance is across deployment models, it’s ultimately the customer’s choice. And in 2016, vendors need to remember this.”  



Read more on Enterprise Hardware