Holding the Fall 2010 Channel Partners Conference & Expo just outside of Washington, D.C., certainly proved to be a “capital idea" as more than 2,200 participants – and more than 20 percent more attendees – took part in education, networking and business centered around industry transformation.
Cloud computing, unified communications, energy resale and managed services seemed to dominate product trends while discussion about the state of the industry, and the future of the channel, was foremost on partners’ and carriers’ minds. On the trade show floor, carriers and hardware resellers converged to pitch partners on the values and benefits of working both sides of the aisle – voice and data. It’s a conversation that’s been percolating for several years and finally is evolving into practical implementation and products in the distribution channel.
And that changing flavor of the communications industry was reflected on the trade show floor. For example, Vu TelePresence, in its 20x20 booth, and ACT Conferencing were just two of several Web conferencing providers. Then there was the energy pavilion that included Energent, Blue Star Energy, MINT Energy and Outreach Telecom & Energy. And Aastra, ADTRAN, Cisco, Digium, Panasonic, snom and Zeacom were among the many premises-based companies seeking channel partners. Similarly, Apptix, GreenAppX and nGenX were some representatives of the software-as-a-service provider community, while the burgeoning cloud computing sector was represented by the likes of Global Net Access.
Among the featured sessions on convergence topics were SaaS Sales 101, a cloud computing crash-course, moving to managed services, video conferencing, hosted vs. premises unified communications, and how to plug into electricity sales. There also were numerous vendor sessions on hosted communications.
A new energy in the industry from these new opportunities created buzz on the show floor, embodied by the jam-packed opening reception, sponsored by Time Warner Cable Business Class, and the PlanetOne VIP Meet & Greet event with more than 100 attendees. Throughout the week, hall traffic was steady, thanks in part to the ever-popular Partner Pub Crawl on Tuesday – as evidenced by the dozens of attendees walking around holding ADTRAN’s beer-filled yard glasses.
Popular booth promos included Broadview Networks’ Wheel of Fortune, AireSpring’s 3D-centric theme complete with 3D signage and glasses, Time Warner Cable Business Class’s delectable cupcake fare and PowerNet Global’s caffeine-fueled “SIP Back and Relax" coffee giveaway.