COMDEXvirtual: 10 Key Takeaways From Day 2

COMDEXvirtual: That's A Wrap!

Day Two of COMDEXvirtual was full of advice and strategic insight on everything from the growth opportunities around cloud computing and virtualization to the changing roles of hackers and CIOs. The show delivered news-making keynotes from high profile CEOs such as Intel's Paul Otellini and Juniper Networks' Kevin Johnson as well as eye-opening presentations from respected technology writer Nicholas Carr and Everything Channel's own chief executive, Robert Faletra.

Here's a look back at the highlights of Day Two.

Intel Won't Change McAfee Partner Model

Intel CEO Paul Otellini made a pledge to solution providers that his company wouldn't change the indirect sales approach of newly acquired security vendor McAfee. "Our intent is not to change the business model, the sales practices, the terms and conditions, the products, the branding," Otellini said during his keynote session at COMDEXvirtual. "All that stays the same for the foreseeable future."

Otellini said Intel will be committed to integrating McAfee's software with Intel's microprocessor business, which the chief executive said would give VARs additional upsell opportunities. The $7.68 billion McAfee deal was Intel's biggest acquisition in its 42-year history.

Time To Ditch Legacy Networking

With the explosion of cloud computing, mobile Internet devices and taxing data centers, is it time to starting rethinking the very architecture of current networking gear? Juniper CEO Kevin Johnson says yes. During his COMDEXvirtual keynote, Johnson explained that legacy networking technology can't handle the demands of today's world and that new technology must be ushered in to handle the increasingly complex and cumbersome traffic.

"Simply put, the two key mega-trends all of us need to be mindful of are cloud computing and the mobile Internet," Johnson said during his keynote. "The mobile Internet and cloud computing fundamentally change the economics and the experience of the way people work, and also put a great amount of pressure on the future of the network."

Help CIOs Become Indispensible SMQ-8211-SMQ Rather Than Replaceable

The role of the CIO in today's business world has changed drastically, according to Niel Nickolaisen, vice president of strategy and innovation at Energy Solutions. "We used to be primarily involved with data processing, but now it's become a much more strategic role," he said during his COMDEXvirtual keynote.

Nickolaisen, who previously served as CIO in roles for companies such as Headwaters, Deseret Book, and Franklin Covey, believes today's CIOs should become more of a "strategic enabler" and concentrate on their businesses' "differentiating activities" that generate the most economic return rather than spending time on so-called "mission critical" systems spread out across the IT infrastructure. To that end, Nickolaisen said VARs should focus on their customers' core businesses and target markets and look at for solutions that improve those specific areas when approaching CIOs today.

Cloud Computing, Virtualization Will Disrupt Your Business

If you haven't started preparing for cloud computing by embracing new technology like virtualization, then you're running the risk of becoming obsolete, according to Everything Channel CEO Robert Faletra. During his COMDEXvirtual keynote, titled "A Technology Channel in Transition," Faletra described how the channel usually experiences either a technological trend or a business methodology change. But cloud computing is different, he said.

"Cloud is both a technology and a business methodology change. This opportunity can't be ignored," Faletra said. "You really need to think hard about how cloud deployment is going to impact your business and you need to have a better business model."

Thin or Thick? Consider Your Mobile Cloud Options

With the growth of mobile Internet devices and cloud computing, many companies are rushing to adopt technology to embrace the "mobile cloud." But Jack Gold, president and principal analyst at J. Gold Associates, believes that companies need to do the proper research and preparation before leaping into the mobile cloud. "The bottom line is that enterprises are moving to the mobile cloud, and they're moving that way fairly rapidly," Gold said during his COMDEXvirtual session.

Specifically, Gold said that companies need to properly weight thin clients versus thick clients. While thin clients might seem like the best option for cloud computing, they are at the mercy of often tenuous Internet connections, so thick clients might be a better option for workers in the field running mission critical applications.

IT May Not Matter SMQ-8211-SMQ But Cloud Computing Does

Renowned technology writer Nicholas Carr once penned a controversial Harvard Business Review article titled, "IT Doesn't Matter." But during his COMDEXvirtual keynote, Carr declared that cloud computing does in fact matter and that it's "the model of the future."

Carr described how the computer is now being spread out across the Internet and that data and applications formerly housed inside the PC are now moving to the cloud. He also urged solution providers to stop dismissing cloud as just another fad. "To take that attitude would be the worst thing you could do at this time because complacency will lead you -- whether you're supplying IT or using it -- to kind of get behind the curve and not realize that users are going to be demanding more and more cloud services in the very near future," he said.

Amateur Hackers Are Now Professional Cybercriminals

The IT security landscape has changed quite a bit over the last decade, and instead of contending with curious, amateur hackers who break security safeguards for sport, companies must now contend with sophisticated cybercriminals who are bent on stealing money, personal data, intellectual property and anything else they can get their hands on. Hugh Thompson, chief security strategist for People Security, said during his COMDEXvirtual presentation that companies need to understand the motivations of today's cybercriminal in order to build the proper security infrastructure.

"Most attackers aren't evil or insane; they just want something," Thompson said. "Ten years ago, most attackers were evil or insane, especially those things that were done for fame. It wasn't towards some financial goal. Today, that's changed."

Don't Take OSes For Granted

Today's newest operating systems, from traditional PC platforms like Windows 7 to mobile OSes like Google Android and Apple's iOS, are powerful productivity tools that enable users to do more today than ever before. That was the message behind CRN Test Center's session titled "Windows 7, Ubuntu 10.04, iPhone 4.0, Office 2010 and More: How These Platforms Can Help Customers" at COMDEXvirtual.

CRN Test Center Managing Editor Ed Moltzen and Eddie Correia, assistant technology editor, demonstrated how these new platforms are bringing more functionality and allowing users to embrace, for example, mobile Internet applications. Moltzen in particular urged solution providers to start upgrading their OSes. "The water is warm. Jump on in," Moltzen said. "It's time for Windows 7." The CRN Test Center duo also looked at other products that can help VARs win business.

Social Computing Replacing E-Mail?

While e-mail is a vital communication tool, it has its limitations and isn't always the best means of interacting with others in the workplace. Instead, companies should look at social computing tools, which may provide a better way of enabling group-to-group communications. That was one of themes during a panel discussion titled, "The Future of Social Computing: Defining What's Next" at COMDEXvirtual. Moderated by Mitchel Lieberman, president and CEO of Comity Technology Advisors, the panel discussed how social data was permeating different areas of computing, citing examples like Google's Gmail priority inbox feature, which uses social data to improve the user experience. The panelists included Rick Burnes, inbound marketing manager at HubSpot; Mike Dubrall, Channels of the Future community director at the Gilwell Group; and Chris Pape, founder and chief creative officer at Genuine Interactive.

Desktop, Storage Virtualization Growing Opportunities

While server virtualization has become a tremendous business in the channel, virtualization technology is moving downstream into other areas like desktops and storage hardware, and VARs would be best served by studying new technologies that take advantage of those areas. Barb Goldworm, president and chief analyst at Focus, a market research firm in Boulder, Colo., said that storage virtualization in particular is becoming more of a focus.

"What's interesting this year is that virtualization drivers have changed," Goldworm said during her COMDEXvirtual presentation. "This year disaster recovery has overtaken consolidation and utilization as the No. 1 driver, and server virtualization has moved down."