The IT VAR and telecom agent channels have been on a collision course for years. And thanks to the booming adoption of cloud- and services-based IT, those two channels, once firmly planted on their own sides of the fence, are converging—and converging fast.
The adoption of cloud services, a market Gartner expects to grow 18.5 percent this year to $131 billion, is, of course, a key driver of this mega channel merger. As more and more customers demand that their IT needs be met via the cloud- or services-based models, solution providers are feeling more pressure than ever to transition their businesses to recurring revenue models—models the telecom agents have been used to for years. Meanwhile, some solution providers are simply seeking out business connectivity sales to complement their traditional hardware or software businesses.
Just ask a master agent. As distributors of carrier and network services, they have one of the best seats in the house for tracking IT-telecom convergence. Petaluma, Calif.-based Master Agent Intelisys, for its part, has on-boarded 200 new solution providers into its partner program over the last 18 months. "It's really starting to accelerate. We are growing by 25 percent a year, and it used to be that 99 percent of that revenue was from the telecom agent community," said Andrew Pryfogle, senior vice president and general manager, Cloud Services and Complex Bids at Intelisys, in a recent interview with CRN. "Our growth, now easily 10 to 15 percent, is coming from the VAR community, and we expect that to accelerate at a much, much faster pace."
While solution providers take the leap to selling cloud and connectivity services, telecom agents are eyeing the IT channel as a means to make inroads into new customer accounts, and to bulk up their own services portfolios with hardware and software sales. At the end of the day, what's really driving the IT-telecom convergence is the customer. Quickly fading are the days of a CIO being satisfied with buying hardware from one partner and connectivity from another. In order to be a true trusted adviser, partners need to be offering both.
To that end, CRN's 2013 Network Connectivity Services Partner Program Guide is meant to highlight some of the industry's leading portfolios of telecom, cloud and connectivity offerings. It also recognizes those industry players who seem ready, willing and able to help partners wrap their arms around all this convergence, and the many moving parts it entails.
Click any program name for full program details