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VAR500 solution providers say there's no question the economic climate is improving, and cloud computing opportunities are moving beyond hype and beginning to deliver real business wins.
But neither the recovery nor cloud adoption is progressing as fast as many people think, they conceded.
"Things are clearly getting better," offered Daniel DiSano, president and CEO of Axispoint, a New York-based solution provider, in an interview at Everything Channel's VAR500-CIO 50 event in New York. "Customers are starting to open their wallets again, and the good news is that purchases were delayed, not lost. We didn't necessarily lose any of that business, it was just delayed."
The stock market may be improving, DiSano said, but the credit markets will be a better indicator of recovery. Access to credit -- or lack thereof -- is what's hurt customers most, he noted.
Whereas application services continued to grow throughout the downturn, infrastructure services took a beating, DiSano added. Axispoint is focused on 2010 being a year of basic recovery, and expects to see a return to growth in 2011 and especially, 2012.
Among key technology areas, the notion of Enterprise 2.0 -- the arrival of video and other collaboration tools as legitimate enterprise infrastructure, and not just luxuries -- is really taking off, he said. Growth in data center and cloud-based solutions will continue apace, and from a vertical standpoint, DiSano said he expects health care, an Axispoint specialty, to stay hot.
It's that c-word -- cloud -- that continues to dominate the conversation. Bill Dolan, vice president of business development for Jersey City, N.J.-based solution provider DataPipe, said that among his largest enteprise customers, the push to outsource business processes or infrastructure -- or at least make it cloud-ready -- has been a recent trend, catching on fast.
"There's still a lot of confusion," Dolan said. "The marketing around cloud is great, but the execution just isn't what's getting fully realized yet. Right now you have a lot of CEOs leaving conferences yelling at their guys, 'We have to move to the cloud,' without really knowing what the next big move is. That's where we can come in."
Growth among many managed services specialists has been strong throughout the past year, and that was certainly the case for both Dolan's business and for David Powell, vice president of managed services at TekLinks, a Homewood, Ala.-based solution provider.
TekLinks' managed services business grew 67 percent last year, Powell said.
"What's happened is that for many of these companies, the workforce was laid off, but the workload was not," he explained.