First-time visitors to CRN.com can find themselves at sea with some of the terms we throw around. Here's a quick guide:
What does CRN stand for?
CRN was launched as Computer Retail News, covering the early days of the business side of the PC revolution. In 1987, Computer Retail News became Computer Reseller News, focused on those businesses involved with purchasing hardware from manufacturers and distributors, and, then reselling those items to end-user organizations and customers.
Times have changed, and retail and reselling are less central to most technology business companies. Our coverage has broadened to take in consultants, integrators, independent software developers, and others, all of whom we usually group together with the term "technology solution providers". In 1994, CRN's website was launched, and in 2000, the tabloid newspaper Computer Reseller News was reborn as the magazine CRN.
What is the Channel?
When we talk about the channel, it is that ecosystem of people selling technology hardware, solutions and services. These organizations range from single-person consultancies and storefront computer shops, to global organizations like Accenture and CSC, and even the services businesses of IT vendors like IBM and HP. While other channels exist -- manufacturing, chemicals, and automotive, for instance -- we're talking about the technology channel.
In 2007 we estimated that the North American technology channel consisted of as many as a quarter-million solution provider organizations, generating $370 billion in annual sales.
Although independent businesses were selling technology products decades earlier, the modern channel began with the personal computer revolution in the early 1980's. In 2000, CRN published this timeline of some of the important events in the early years of the channel.
In Back To The Future Channel, Robert Faletra reflects on the status of the channel now, at the end of 2012:
"We are seeing a bit of back to the future in channel makeup right now. When the indirect sales channel was first born in the late 70s, it was made up of a lot of small players that got the model right, making them huge players in the market. That happened via both the franchise model and company-owned model.
Looking ahead, the channel makeup will be different in that we will have many more larger partners in North America. At the same time, we will see thousands of newly formed partners move into the market with born-on-the-cloud models that are very different than many of the partner business models of today. "
What's a VAR?
It's a value-added-reseller, of course! Value-add is still the core mission for most solution providers, but reselling isn't. But Bob Venero, Founder of Future Tech Enterprises, told us what he thought makes a true VAR:
"A true VAR is architecting solutions--not just selling equipment. A true VAR walks into his customer with no particular agenda or intent to sell the latest and greatest gadgets and gizmos. A true VAR sits and listens to the customer's needs, and then leverages technology to create solutions."