VARs and MSPs: Keeping Up on the Changing Times

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The IT industry has long been characterized by change. You might remember the dominance of mainframes in the data center, the move to minicomputers, and the emergence of client/server architectures and network operating systems. Believe it or not, there was a time when businesses survived without the Internet, and hardly anyone could have imagined anything like a smart phone.

Lately it seems like things are shifting faster than ever. That’s largely because the key trends that are shaping the industry—cloud computing, mobile technology, social media and big data, to name a few—are causing an upheaval in the way vendors design, build and distribute their products and the way organizations use technology.

How IT components such as applications and computing capacity are delivered to users is markedly different than it was just a few years ago. Mobile technology has become the focal point for a lot of business applications, and virtually no new IT products can be created and sold without keeping the cloud in mind.

All of the changes that are going on are also resulting in lots of activity on the mergers, acquisitions and joint venture/partnership front.

Tech companies are scrambling to take advantage of the major trends that are affecting customer wants and needs, and they are on the hunt for startups and more established players that they can either acquire or work in partnership with to achieve their goals.


As a value-added reseller (VAR) or managed services provider (MSP), you will likely need to stay on top of these developments to remain competitive. How technology vendors are positioned in the market and which other companies they’re working with can have an impact on how you deliver your products and services to customers.

Some of the companies involved in these deals might be your own business partners, so the impact on your company can be direct and profound.

Consider a few of the industry developments that have occurred just over the past few months. One of the most noteworthy and well publicized is the partnership between IBM and Apple.

The companies in July announced an exclusive partnership that combines the strengths of each company “to transform enterprise mobility through a new class of business apps—bringing IBM’s big data and analytics capabilities to [Apple’s] iPhone and iPad.”

The partnership aims to create more than 100 industry-specific enterprise apps developed for iPhone and iPad; IBM cloud services designed for Apple’s iOS mobile operating system; and new packaged offerings from IBM for device activation, supply and management.

Clearly, the partnership between IBM and Apple will likely have an effect on the enterprise mobile device and applications market, including the security of these mobile components.


Then there have been a number of mergers and acquisitions announced in the tech industry recently that reflect the major IT market shifts:

  • Facebook announced it was acquiring fast-growing mobile-messaging startup WhatsApp, to bolster the social media company’s messaging offerings for mobile users.

  • Microsoft acquired InMage, a startup focused on cloud-connectivity and data recovery for businesses, as part of its cloud-mobile strategy.

  • acquired startup RelateIQ, a company that uses searches of unstructured data from email, social networks and calendars to automate portions of the sales process.

  • Twitter acquired Madbits, a provider of deep learning—a type of artificial intelligence that enables computers to make inferences after being trained with data—to help the social media site build an image search system and analyze the images users post to enhance user experience and provide targeted adverting for businesses.

  • Google made a similar move, buying artificial intelligence company DeepMind to help it compete against other tech companies by focusing on deep learning technologies. Google also bought Nest Labs, a provider of “smart” home products.


There are plenty of other examples of new synergies being created in the market that will influence buying and deployment decisions about mobile, cloud, big data/analytics, social media and security solutions.

Many of these efforts are being spurred by the fact that technology businesses are building multi-channel strategies and emphasizing mobile platforms, and also trying to capitalize on the rise of advanced data analytics.

You don’t need to know about and study every joint venture and acquisition that comes along in IT. But you’ll likely want to keep an eye on the major players.

If you are a channel player and you’re not paying attention to these industry developments, there’s a good chance you might miss out on new revenue opportunities, and you might even find your business in trouble in this fast-changing IT world.

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