VAR Zones Taps Into IoT Market

Cisco Systems is investing heavily in the Internet of Everything (IoE), the concept of Internet-enabling everyday objects tied with the Internet of Things (IoT). The company believes it is a $19 trillion global opportunity over the next decade and represents a major opportunity for channel partners who will inevitably be key drivers behind connecting the unconnected.

One of these solution providers leading the way is Zones Inc., No. 31 on CRN's SP500 list, a partner of Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, Cisco and Dell, who sees the IoT creating opportunities for VARs.

"IoT is something that the industry as a whole is trying to take on," said Stephen Lurie, senior director of IoT solutions at Zones. "The money is being made in doing a lot of the professional services and also selling a lot of the technology … The IoE has opened up tremendous opportunities for resellers out there like us."

[Related: Cisco Exec: How Partners Can Prepare For IoT]

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The market is creating a vast amount of opportunities for VARs in the fields of data and wireless space, according to Lurie.

"IoT is the foundation of [the] Internet of Data because of these sensors talking, it's creating more data. Data needs to be stored somewhere and be analyzed, so we're starting to see opportunities around storage," he said. "These sensors have wireless capabilities, so we're starting to see wireless deals becoming bigger and bigger for us."

Lurie said Zones, which was founded over two decades ago, has created an actual practice that spans globally around IoT, which caters to different verticals and sells horizontally across IoT solutions.

"Zones is a full inaugurator of advance technologies. We do the architecture and design, we do the implementation of it and have managed services around it also, with the ability to help monitor and maintain the systems themselves," said Lurie.

Zones has conducted case studies on reducing energy consumption in office buildings through IoT. In one case, Lurie said it was able to reduce consumption by 51 percent, cutting in half the customers' year-over-year energy cost from $4 million to $2 million.

"We have the ability now to save cost where people didn't really look for before," said Lurie.

He said implementing IoT technologies into the features and functionality of a building can save customers an immense amount of money, which he sees as a big opportunity for various solution providers.

Don Gulling, president of Verteks Consulting, an Ocala, Fla.-based solution provider, said he has yet to see an increase in IoT interest, but expects his company to make sales in the future from security.

"In terms of [driving] IoT sales -- security, security, security -- selling more planning, assessment, compliance, review, auditing and remediation services," said Gulling. "I think VARs that do SMB and SoHo will have a better chance of making money on IoT devices quickly."

He said he expects security-focused VARs will have the most revenue to gain due to customer fear of possible security issues stemming from IoT.

NEXT: Cisco IoT Exec Weighs In

In November, Cisco rolled out a new set of partner specializations aimed at helping solution providers capitalize on IoE.

Andres Sintes, senior director of Worldwide Partner Organization, Networking and IoT/IoE Solutions at Cisco, said the specializations were designed to help IT solution providers expand their knowledge of operational technology (OT) and in specific vertical markets, which Cisco believes is a must in order to succeed in the IoT era.

"It is to attract or help our traditional IT partners understand more about this OT world so they [can] profit from it," said Sintes. "Everything in the world of IoT, or at least a big portion of it, is about the power of partnership."

Sintes said Cisco is planning to launch additional specializations for partners geared toward IoE and IoT regarding transportation, and energy and utilities, but couldn't give specifics as of yet.

"Cisco absolutely is being the leader in IoT, without a doubt," said Lurie.

Last week, Cisco unveiled six new startups that joined their Entrepreneurs in Residence incubation program, who will collaborate with Cisco and global partners to build IoE and big data. The startups include ParSteam, which offers a complete analytics platform built for large-scale IoT solutions; Italy-based company PLATONE, who delivers a "cloud-ready" end-to-end IoT and machine-to-machine application platform; and the Japan-based Preferred Networks, which adds intelligence to IoE by applying machine leaning and big data technologies to devices and networks.

Lurie said he's been speaking to other VARs and vendors with discussions being strongly based around investment into bringing IoT into their organization.

"I see a major expansion of the IoT happening within 2015, for sure," he said.