Solution Providers Speak: Summing Up 2015 In One Word

The Year That Was

For the channel, 2015 represented a lot of change. New technology is reshaping the way business is done, and consolidating markets are setting records for the scale at which technology integrators work. The past year has brought with it a number of realizations about security, transitions to cloud technology and a landslide of Microsoft updates.

As 2015 wound down, CRN asked 10 channel partners to sum up 2015 in one word. That proved to be a difficult challenge, but one they rose to meet. Ranging from "chaotic" to "amazing," and even stretching to the fanciful "cloudalicious," the selection describing the past year is telling. Here are their words of choice.

THE WORD: Cloudalicious

FROM: Luis Alvarez, President & CEO, Alvarez Technology Group Inc., Salinas, Calif.

Alvarez ginned up the word "Cloudalicious" because 2015 was the year his company saw cloud services become mainstream in the SMB market. Alvarez said that, for him and Alvarez Technology Group, the year was defined by the popularity of cloud in his market when his customers began to take the lead and come to him asking to start a migration of some or all of their services to the cloud.

THE WORD: Transformation

FROM: Donald Moore, Director, Market & Competitive Intelligence, Dassault Systemes; Charlotte, N.C.

For Moore, "transformation" came to mind as a record number of mergers and acquisitions in 2015 changed the landscape of the channel. "The business continues to transform," Moore said, thanks to the continued pace of M&A activity throughout 2015.

Dassault itself has continued to morph, thanks to its own 12 acquisitions in the past eight years. The company has added three new brands during that time, most recently introducing its Biovia Virtual biosphere and materials brand in 2014 as a direct result of its acquisition of Acelrys.

THE WORD: Chaotic

FROM: Brent Yax, CEO, Awecomm Technologies LLC, Troy, Mich.

"Over the past few years, culminating in 2015, we’ve learned just how transformational the ubiquity of computing really is," said Yax.

Yax said the speed of development for apps and IoT devices has created a chaos that reminds him of the pre-dot-com-bust era, from around 1999 to 2001, "like the wild, wild West," with companies working feverishly to figure out how to capitalize on new trends and new customer demands.

"It led to an oversaturation of undifferentiated products, and mass consumer confusion," Yax said. "This confusion created a mixed bag of consumer demands, which caused many businesses to be hesitant [about] jumping into new technologies."

THE WORD: Amazing

FROM: Larry Gold, President, Computer E-Z, Mendon, Vt.

"Amazing" is a word that "covers you both ways," said Gold, who called 2015 a "great" year for a small-town business that exists solely on referrals.

"Service and support went really well; we were successful in resolving issues, upgrading systems and working with the customers," he said.

A bonus, he said, was that he was able to help others in his town of about 1,000.

"Nothing is better than that," he said.

THE WORD: Transition

FROM: Christopher Alghini, President, Coolhead Tech, Austin, Texas

In 2015, "we've seen our colleagues and customers transition to the cloud," said Alghini. For born-in-the-cloud Coolhead Tech, that’s an important transition.

In fact, the year saw Coolhead move from a company focused primarily on being a Google for Work Premier partner to a provider of additional products and services from such channel partners as Samsung, Ringcentral, Ruckus Wireless, Lenovo and Dell.

THE WORD: Challenging

FROM: Jim Bittle, President, CommPutercations Inc., Frederick, Md.

For Bittle’s company, 2015 was the year in which the company worked out the kinks of a nearly decade-long transition from being a value-added reseller to being a managed service provider. But after deciding to make the change in 2006, Bittle faced a long road of challenges.

Last year, he said, ComPutercations spent considerable time and money building infrastructure in both of its data centers to enhance its capabilities while growing its MSP business.

All that work resulted in the need for additional staffing and an increase to the company's help desk capabilities, he said.

THE WORD: Process

FROM: Bryce Austin, CIO, Digineer, Plymouth, Minn.

Austin said the security breaches in 2015 have required a refocusing for security-driven solution providers that had many companies looking at establishing and following proper processes for system configuration, software development, data storage/transport and user authentication.

"It’s 'the basics' that are at the heart of the vast majority of the 2015 breaches," Austin said, "and 2016 will require a refocusing on process to prevent future incidents.

"Thankfully, a strategic implementation of process can lead to an increase in productivity, uptime, and the enablement of secure and reliable agile development that provides continuous improvement to end users," he said.

THE WORD: Productive

FROM: Brent Cooper, President, C-Forward Inc., Covington, Ky.

For Cooper’s company, 2015 was the year employees and customers saw a big return on investment in virtual servers and desktops, comprehensive disaster recovery solutions, network automation tools, and products like the Microsoft Surface, he said.

"The uptime for our customers was the highest it has ever been," Cooper said. "This resulted in a most productive, and profitable, year."


FROM: Mark Cavaliero, CEO and Founder, Carolinas IT, Raleigh, N.C.

Cavaliero said cloud and its supporting services were the "driving force" behind the majority of Carolinas' business throughout 2015.

He said the end users he has worked with during the year have all embraced public, private and hybrid cloud solutions.

"Businesses have become comfortable with cloud services," he said, "and have continued to migrate more and more of their critical processes and computing functions to it."


FROM: Jason Ulm, Vice President of Sales, Appia Communications, Traverse City, Mich.

Ulm said 2015 sped by quickly for him and his team, as Appia added new clients and was presented with new challenges like integrating together companies from around the globe to service U.S. companies with offices abroad, and finding ways to integrate Appia's private branch exchange system with new CRMs, ranging from Salesforce to homegrown systems.

"Everything just seemed to fly by," he said. "We got to work with so many new clients that had really interesting requirements that, every day, we were doing something new. It really made the year just fly by."