Interop Channel Summit: Cloud Means Change Is Gonna Come

Cloud computing is forcing all technology companies to adapt their business in some way. At Interop Monday in Las Vegas, several solution providers and vendors outlined their game plans for succeeding in the channel during this time of upheaval.

From cloud solution provider GreenPages Technology Solutions to networker Extreme Networks, and from data monitoring company Gigamon to networking and storage company Netgear, all showed how they are moving in new directions.

At an all-day event called "The IT Channel Summit: Capitalizing On Disruptive Technologies," these companies outlined a common theme -- companies that resist change will not succeed. The event was sponsored by CRN, a unit of United Business Media, which also owns Interop operator TechWeb.

[Related: 10 Hot Products To See At Interop Las Vegas 2012 ]

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Ron Dupler, CEO of GreenPages, Kittery, Maine, warned solution providers in attendance that their business will be forever altered by cloud computing. "We are going to be changing dramatically over the next few years," he said. "The need for a trusted adviser has never been greater."

One way to succeed, Dupler said, is to specialize. "The good news is customers want to talk to you if you can lead in one segment."

The cloud is creating new ways of building networks, and partners can be active in this new wave, said Extreme Networks' Theresa Caragol, the company's new vice president of worldwide channels, and David Ginsburg, senior vice president of strategic marketing.

Extreme Networks, Santa Clara, Calif., is betting that 10-GB copper switches will be a primary choice for cloud and data center network upgrades, both executives told the audience. In addition, they said, Extreme Networks is a leader in software-defined networking, designed to deliver scalability, openness and investment protection for virtualized cloud and data center networks.

"These are high-growth areas, and I think there is great opportunity for VARs," Caragol said.

NEXT: Gigamon, Netgear Ready Their Cloud Solutions

Also at the Interop event, Jim Berkman, director of worldwide channel marketing at Gigamon, Milpitas, Calif., said the need for better visibility into networks is critical because the explosion of data has made network monitoring and security vastly more difficult. Gigamon's traffic visibility solutions for enterprises, data centers and service providers give insight into traffic traversing both physical and virtual networks.

"A visibility solution is critical to identify performance," Berkman said. Gigamon's products, sold almost entirely through the channel, are used by 50 of the Fortune 100 companies, he said, with solution providers usually earning double-digit margins.

Netgear, San Jose, Calif., also is making adjustments to compete in the cloud. Drew Meyer, Netgear's senior director of marketing, said storage is a significant part of the company's portfolio, particularly for small and midsize businesses.

"Customers are looking for reliable, simple, affordable IT, not big -- and expensive -- IT," he said. To provide such storage service, Netgear partners with Egnyte, which with its cloud file server helps businesses with affordable cloud storage.

Both companies work to a great extent with partners. "The enterprise has a lot of cloud partners, but there is a huge, broad, lower tier of partners that is not addressed," Meyer said. "But Netgear does this every day for our bread and butter."