2009 State Of The Custom Systems Market: All Systems Go

It's hard to discuss 2009 State of the Market study without first addressing the gorilla in the room: the economy.

The Web-based study designed by Everything Channel Research and fielded during November analyzed responses from 350 solution providers, who were asked where they think the IT market is going in 2009.

Global recession, weak consumer spending and the credit crisis all trouble solution providers going into 2009.

Twenty-seven percent of all solution providers surveyed predict growth of more than 15 percent in 2009. And another 40 percent see growth in 2009 of between 5 percent and 15 percent. Those optimistic growth numbers in the face of a recession are shared on a fairly even basis by the small VARs, with annual revenues of $1 million or less, all the way up to larger solution providers with annual sales in excess of $20 million. And custom systems revenue should be a significant chunk of that growth.

The majority of the solution providers surveyed are already selling custom systems with custom notebooks now sharing the stage in close to equal proportion to desktops and servers. New more powerful, energy efficient chips from AMD and Intel are expected to be a catalyst in custom systems sales growth in 2009.

More SPs active in custom systems are content to resell custom notebooks rather than building them. SOM 2009 data also shows that in general, larger solution providers, those with revenues in excess of $5 million, tend to favor reselling custom systems, while more of the VARs with annual sales of less than $5 million prefer to build their own.

More solution providers opt for a custom systems solution than a branded one. Forty-nine percent of solution providers surveyed said they offer custom systems to their customers, while 37 percent make branded systems part of their solution. And those numbers are expected to tip even more in favor of custom systems in 2009.

More than twice the number of solution providers said they plan to offer custom system solutions in the next 12 months versus just 7 percent that said they anticipate adding branded systems. Most of the VARs saying they plan to add custom systems next year had annual revenues between $1 million and $20 million.

Of those VARs planning to add custom systems capabilities next year, 45 percent plan to resell or build notebooks, 56 percent intend to build or resell desktops, and 54 percent want to build or resell servers.

When adding new technologies and vendors, the motives for custom systems builders are clear: Clients need new technology and solution providers want to increase their profitability and margins. Custom systems fit the bill on both counts, pointing to one bright spot for VARS in 2009.