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The IT Partners' dilemma: Skill up, team up or fade away

The IT Partners' dilemma: Skill up, team up or fade away

The growth of virtualisation, cloud computing and big data is changing the entire landscape for IT partners, says one leading distributor - and the scramble is on to find new business models that work.

"I've been in this business for 20 years and I have never seen things change as quickly as they have over the past two or three years," says Craig Brunsden, Executive for Software for distributor AxizWorkgroup. "The era of the always-on business is here and business requirements have changed dramatically. IT needs to support both employees and customers who are demanding access anytime, anywhere, whether it's to email, operational systems or online shopping. The new technology to solve these business pain points is evolving just as rapidly. The challenge is matching the right client to the right solution."

"Partners have to shift their skills base to be able to offer more strategic advice and consulting," says Brunsden. "But that requires significant investment, and the money has to come from somewhere. It's still easier to make 3-4% margin on a straightforward hardware supply request than 6-7% on a consulting job, so not everyone is thinking far enough ahead to prepare for the day it all changes."

"Vendors have a very important role to play in making it worthwhile for people to invest in training for their product," adds Brunsden. "Training needs to be more accessible if it's going to be worth the time investment; and we need to know we'll have access to clear follow-up information and support as we develop clients."

Brunsden says Veeam Software is one vendor that is making a success of meeting partner needs. "The combination of online training that partners can access anytime, combined with excellent local South African support, is helping us grow the number of partners who actually know about the software and can recommend it to clients."

"Veeam makes 100% percent of its sales through partners and we are committed to their success," says Veeam Regional Manager for Southern Africa Warren Olivier. "We've built what we believe is the most attractive partner program in the market – the Veeam ProPartnerProgram - to give resellers the tools they need to remain competitive. Our solutions help their clients bridge the availability gap between the requirements of the always-on business and IT's ability to effectively deliver business continuity and data center availability."

"The reality is that everyone is struggling to deal with increasing complexity," says Brunsden. "Clients are tired of spending money on equipment and skills they don't use effectively, or have time to manage. They are looking to their IT partners to manage that complexity for them, and to advise them reliably on the most appropriate investment choices to make."

For the channel, says Brunsden, "the challenge is to either to invest in developing new skills, or to find specialist partners who can fill the gap. The alternative is stay forever fighting for crumbs among the small fry."

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