When you get a chance to talk to a large number of top-tier VARs and CIOs sitting together, as we did at our recent VAR500/CIO 50 event, you realize there still is, and always will be, a business in selling, deploying and managing infrastructure.
The event brings together the best and brightest in the sales channel to talk through and debate the future of IT along with the suppliers in attendance. In the end, it’s an event that helps advance the sales channel and allows solution providers and vendors alike to drive business.
Boot up CRN.com and run through the slide show interviews with the CIO 50, and you can see for yourself. The message is a bit different from each of the customers, but in the end they are talking about increasing infrastructure.
Security, storage and, yes, cloud solutions are all in the mix.
The reality is that to be able to sell business intelligence applications, you need to have a top-notch database infrastructure with the right security and storage. Without that infrastructure you can’t get at the data you need.
Business intelligence deployments require process changes inside an organization. It’s never easy for a solution provider or internal IT, for that matter, to drive a process change. But with a strong infrastructure that can serve up the intelligence, the return is quick and successful.
The next few years may offer a larger opportunity in infrastructure deployment because of the pullback over the past two years. We are coming out of an “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it” period, and there is more infrastructure than normal reaching end-of-life status and it is going to have to be replaced.
One of the real marketing opportunities right now is for solution providers to work with infrastructure suppliers to run promotions around replacing older hardware and software. There are lots of customers that understand and are planning for infrastructure upgrades as we slowly exit the recession. A little nudge in the right direction with a marketing-induced special program could create some real demand.
We are working with a few top-tier vendors that recognize this and are driving demand generation programs through partners via our services to get more of this short-term opportunity.
HP understands this well and is on the hunt through partners for upgrades, refresh and higher attach rates.
Dell is focused on taking share as well and seems to realize we are in a unique period right now as we exit the recession.
But solution providers need not wait for vendor engagement here. If there ever were a time to think more like a marketing executive than a tech-head, this is it.
If you scroll through the CIO comments on CRN.com, you will notice a consistent message around network security and virtualization. These two go hand in hand and, while the virtualization sale can often be about cost savings, it also requires a higher level of security. Customers understand this better than anyone.
So while cloud computing discussions will dominate headlines over the coming months, and more likely years, it’s a strong infrastructure that makes it possible to consider the cloud. And more importantly, no one is talking about the “universal cloud” just yet. We are talking about targeted smaller independent clouds.
So let’s not forget about the infrastructure and all the opportunity and money there is to be had.