10 Growing Markets You Haven't Yet Considered

The CRN Test Center Lays Out Less-Hyped Areas That Can Bring Big Opportunity

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In less than four years -- the same amount of time as a typical corporate IT refresh cycle -- we’ve seen more new software platforms, hardware platforms, device models and changes to use models than we’ve seen during any span in the industry’s history.

And while some new markets, like cloud computing, have gotten their share of attention and growth, others have been flying under the radar for many solution providers.

The CRN Test Center has had an opportunity to track a number of these emerging and growing areas, particularly those that have not gotten the same amount of ink or hype.

As the economy continues its slow turnaround from recession, and enterprises invest in real technology upgrades for the first time in several years, the opportunities for value that haven’t been considered are endless. Based on products and technologies we’ve actually reviewed in our lab, here is a list of 10 different segments that many VARs and enterprises have not yet considered as great areas of investment:

SMB Videoconferencing

When Cisco first rolled out its Telepresence technology in 2006, it opened up to a greater market the possibility of high-definition videoconferencing. The astonishing clarity of the video and audio is breathtaking and so utterly cool that it has been a focal point of Hollywood productions and television programs like “24.” But with bandwidth requirements that are 150 times greater than voice calling, and significant infrastructure commitment, it’s clearly out of reach of most small and midsize businesses.

Two major developments have begun to occur, though, over the past six months that will put high-definition videoconferencing into more SMB enterprises. First, some vendors -- such as LifeSize, a division of peripheral maker Logitech -- have begun to ship HD-quality videoconferencing solutions that can be built into existing network infrastructures, even at small or midsize enterprises. Second, Apple and Skype have launched bold, aggressive videoconferencing solutions for smartphones -- including Apple’s FaceTime for iPhone and Skype for iPhone.

The CRN Test Center has examined LifeSize Passport, a solution with a street price ranging from $2,300 to $3,000. While a fraction of the cost of Telepresence, it’s still an investment. So we wanted to know: Does it eliminate cost and complexity and unleash the power of video communication? The answers: Kind of, yes and yes.

Passport is easy to install: It’s a matter of connecting the 14-ounce console to the network, the included camera to the console and the LCD to the console. Passport supports Skype, which cuts through even more complexity. Because it’s so light and compact, it’s easy to take when traveling as well -- not just on road trips but even from conference room to conference room.

The video is crisp and clear, and it supports audio devices that provide HDlevels of quality as well. For small or midsize businesses to find ROI in the LifeSize Passport solution, concerns including travel budgets, the importance of collaboration and a business’ culture are all important to consider.

As for Apple’s FaceTime and Skype for iPhone, it’s clear that mobile video calling and conferencing are here to stay. After taking a good look at both, there’s very little not to like with each.

Having video-anywhere capability will change expectations and use patterns; count on that sparking (for lack of a better phrase) a video revolution.

With what we’ve seen in just the past few months alone, this is an avenue that’s ripe for opportunity in the channel.

NEXT: Virtual Appliances

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