Partners Flock To Best Of Breed Conference Amid Industry Turmoil -

The channel has perhaps never faced more turmoil and anxiety than it does today.

Partners realize they aren't simply being asked to adapt, they've got to utterly transform in order to keep pace with the quickening rise of the cloud and the erosion of traditional business models.

Monday, solution providers will flock to the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando, Fla., eager for insights on how to build a business in an industry facing widespread change. You'll be able to keep up with all the best advice, and industry perspective on

The Best of Breed Conference comes as the pressure on the industry's traditional business models intensifies in the wake of far-reaching shake-ups at large vendors.

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Most recently, Symantec said it would split into distinct security and storage companies, and HP said it would split into separate PC/printer and enterprise services businesses.

They're just the latest in a line of large vendors, including IBM, to break off business units, and the trend shows no signs of slowing down. Storage giant EMC is also now facing investor pressure to break up.

"Splits make us a little nervous in general, and very nervous if not managed well by the vendor," said Allen Falcon, president and CEO of Boston-area cloud solutions firm Cumulus Global.

Falcon said HP has told partners they will remain partners with both its PC and enterprise entities. "We still have to deal with two vendors now, instead of one," Falcon told CRN by email. "And how long will it be until processes, relationships, etc. change?"

"Splits make it incrementally more difficult because you are adding a vendor to the mix, which requires more vendor management time," Falcon said. "It gives some flexibility as to choice, but at a price."

The machinations of the industry's heavyweight vendors are only part of a broader set of concerns keeping solution providers up at night.

Companies are also facing tremendous balance sheet pressure. The transition to a cloud-based recurring revenue model threatens to leave companies that aren't well capitalized, or that stick to slinging technology, by the wayside.

"Selling technology isn't the way we're going to do things going forward," said Steve Ellis, a sales executive at Infusion and a presenter at the Best of Breed Conference. Still, transitioning to a cloud-based business model can be a big financial burden for some companies, Ellis said.

Big cloud deals can be very profitable, but because they're paid for over time rather than in lump sums, solution providers that aren't well capitalized can find themselves with both the prospect of strong profits and difficulty meeting operational expenses, like paying employees.

That's a challenge many partners are unprepared to face, according to Darren Federowitz, executive director of Dell Financial Services.

"A lot of channel partners don't recognize that they're burdening their balance sheet, or burdening their operations," Federowitz said, "until they reach a point where they say, 'Wow, I should've thought of this six, 12, or 18 months ago."

Partners attending the Best of Breed Conference will come away with the tools, perspective and foresight necessary to face these challenges head-on as the industry continues to evolve.