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Channel Chiefs: 2017 Will Be Merged, Converged and Software-Defined

December 20, 2016 - News
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Channel Partners asked some top channel executives: What was the most important channel or technology event in 2016? Their answers reflect one reality that no one disputes — dramatic changes are coming in business models and customer needs. 2017 is going to be interesting.

Verizon's Janet SchijnsJanet Schijns, VP of global channels at Verizon, and Tina Gravel, VP of strategic alliances for Cryptzone, say 2016 marked the year “software-defined” took hold — and not just for popular SD-WAN technology, though Verizon classifies the WAN as “low-hanging fruit” for partners. 

“2016 was the year that networks took back the cloud,” said Schijns. That’s a reference to the underlying promise of cloud that has sometimes been elusive for customers.

“For years when companies said they wanted ‘cloud technology,’ they meant they wanted the ability to support applications that were cost-effective, scalable and flexible,” Schijns told Channel Partners. “What they were really looking for was software-defined networking [SDN] and network function virtualization [NFV]. SDN/NFV provides the intelligent orchestration that enables the new, real-time customer-centric applications companies need to grow in the future. SDN/NFV is the ‘cloud’ solution companies were looking for, and it’s finally taken control of the terminology.”

We’ve discussed the benefits of NFV technology for partners. Between 2015 and 2020, IHS Markit says the service provider NFV market will grow significantly, from $2.7 billion to $15.5 billion. The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) even produced a slick documentary, “The Virtualization Revolution: NFV Unleashed," featuring commentary from Guido Appenzeller, VMware’s chief technology strategy officer, networking and security; HP’s NFV CTO Prodip Sen; Chris Wright, chief technologist at Red Hat; and others.

Cryptzone's Tina GravelGravel says the software-defined ethos will extend to security as well, referring to the software-defined perimeter research initiative launched in 2013 by the Cloud Security Alliance. 

“Analysts began talking about how the traditional corporate network had morphed into something that could not be protected in the traditional way,” said Gravel. “Cloud and software-as-a-service offerings have made this even more critical and timely. Today we must provide ways to look at individuals and how they interact with the systems they are entitled to use that goes way beyond traditional network tools like VPN and firewalls.”

With morphing ransomware, IoT insecurity and an ongoing skills shortage among the top 7 looming security risks for 2017, there’s no doubt partners needs to think differently. Avant Communications and Honeywell Technology Solutions are among those working with Cryptzone, which launched its partner program this year.

While Schijns and Gravel focused on tech, Cary Tengler, executive director, national partner programs for the Comcast Business Solutions Provider Program, insists that the channel is ...

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