The 10 Biggest Channel Stories Of 2012

What A Year

Solution providers were pulled in many directions in 2012. From trying to stay ahead of innovations in cloud and mobility to dealing with the struggles of some big vendor partners to worrying about the political repercussions of a hard-fought Presidential election, it's not likely to be a year that VARs will forget anytime soon. With that in mind, here's a look back at the 10 biggest channel stories of the year.

10. Cloud Rolls Along

The cloud was CRN's top channel story of 2011, so let's kick things off with cloud again for 2012.

Throughout this year, vendors of all shapes and sizes tried to mark their territory in the cloud. The resulting chaos could sometimes be confusing for solution providers, but the fact remains that cloud technology, including public, private and hybrid solutions, will continue to be a big part of the channel into next year and beyond.

9. EMC's Midmarket Push

EMC put a strong focus on small and midmarket business in 2012, with a heavy emphasis on using channel partners to reach those customers. The company's efforts helped land CEO Joe Tucci (pictured) as the No. 3 Most Influential Executive of 2012 from CRN

In addition to strong channel growth, EMC continues to play nice with others, building strong relationships with other vendors ranging from Cisco Systems to Lenovo to grow its business.

8. A New PC Leader?

Lenovo turned some heads, maybe even among its own partners, when research firm Gartner proclaimed that Lenovo had surpassed Hewlett-Packard as the largest PC maker in the world.

While HP toyed with the idea of spinning off its Personal Systems Group (PSG) before ultimately nixing the plan, Lenovo was full-steam ahead with strong laptop and tablet sales growth.


More employees want to bring their own devices to work and more employers seem to be OK with that. It adds up to a big opportunity for solution provider to make sure the devices connect to corporate networks in a secure and reliable fashion. VARs spent much of 2012 learning how to integrate the sales, management and support of non-corporate-owned smartphones and tablets into their offerings.

Meanwhile, Apple's iPhone, iPad and new iPad Mini continue to dominate the space, but a slew of devices touting Google's Android and Microsoft's Windows 8 are also vying for market share among solution providers.

6. Here Comes Amazon

Even with some well-publicized cloud outages, Amazon Web Services has shown it will be a force to be reckoned with in the commercial cloud market.

There's an ongoing debate between public and private cloud technology, but Amazon has been aggressive in recruiting both customers and solution providers.

5. Political Pressures

For the first 10 months of the year, solution providers joined the rest of the country in debating who would make the best Presidential candidate to the lead the United States and help their businesses grow. Obama vs. Romney: the battle lines were drawn. And now that the election is over, VARs continue to focus on what Obama's second term will mean for the channel.

4. Windows 8 Is Here

It doesn't happen every year, so any time Microsoft releases a new operating system, it's going to generate a lot of interest among both solution providers and end users.

In the case of Windows 8, Microsoft's latest OS is sure to sell more in 2013 than it did this year, but there's no doubt that its October release delayed some IT purchases throughout as enterprises and small businesses looked to VARs to help identify the value and improvements that a refresh would bring.

3. Cisco's Rebound

After spending much of 2011 restructuring and retooling the company, Cisco Systems was back in a big way in 2012. "When we need to reinvent ourselves, we do," Chairman and CEO John Chambers (pictured) told CRN in October.

This year, Cisco even pushed out Microsoft to become the best company to partner with in CRN's annual survey.

2. Hey, Didn't You Used To Be Hewlett-Packard?

Hewlett-Packard once seemed invincible in the channel. The company spread its reach over everything from printers to enterprise storage to software to networking to PCs and almost everything else related to IT. But those halcyon days seem so long ago now. Most recently, HP took a staggering $8.8 billion charge after discovering "serious accounting improprieties" related to its acquisition of Autonomy.

Meanwhile, the channel ranks seemed to thin all year due to the departures of several high-profile executives.

No question, it's been a difficult year for CEO Meg Whitman, but she insisted in October that she'd rather be leading HP than her rivals.

1. It's Apple's world ...

... we just live in it. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company now accounts for more than 10 percent of revenue for both Ingram Micro and Tech Data, becoming only the second company for each (after HP) to garner a double-digit percentage of sales.

Its products, even new ones like the iPad Mini, (pictured) continue to resonate with both consumers and commercial customers.

Under Tim Cook's leadership, Apple was also chosen by VARs as the 12th best vendor to partner with after not even being on the list in 2011.