**Editor’s Note: Click here to see Channel Partners’ comprehensive image gallery from Cloud Partners 2014.**
CLOUD PARTNERS – More than 2,500 agents, VARs, MSPs, consultants and suppliers brought business and an appetite for fun to the Big Easy Sept. 8-10.
The week was packed with programming and events to help all partners ascend to the “Higher Cloud,” evolving their businesses with an eye toward providing value, not just technology, to their customers.
To this end, Channel Partners, the creator of Cloud Partners, crafted keynotes and education sessions that underscored this aim. As HP’s Sue Barsamian put it in her speech on Monday, “The higher cloud changes everything about the way technology is designed, delivered, consumed, and analyzed from the device all the way to the data center, and it completely changes the way IT is valued.”
The value of IT will come in unexpected areas, too. That was the message from IBM’s Lauri Saft on Tuesday. Saft leads Big Blue’s cognitive computing division, which features the Watson computer. Believe it or not, cognitive computing is becoming important to channel partners’ businesses, Saft noted.
“There’s money to be made here and I think all of us are going to be beneficiaries of that,” Saft said.
That’s because Watson is advancing beyond answering questions and into problem solving – it’s mimicking the human brain, Saft said. Such a capabilities can give partners and their clients a leg up as they face new challenges presented not just by technology changes but also regulations, scientific discoveries, and any other imaginable scenario.
Each of these critical keynotes was followed by a roundtable discussion. The first was led by The 2112 Group’s Larry Walsh with three partners who talked about taking their cloud practices to the next level. The second, helmed by Channel Partners’ Khali Henderson and T.C. Doyle, looked at the future of distribution as the cloud era takes over. The takeaway: there will always be a role for the channel.
In between the main speeches, Channel Partners hosted a variety of educational sessions covering topics from choosing cloud suppliers to building a cloud practice. There also was a range of VIP and invitation-only events, sponsor and vendor presentations, Lunch and Learns, demos and, of course, non-stop activity on the show floor. Opening night on Monday featured food and drinks, and from there, the vibe grew. Throughout the week, Channel Partners held Higher Cloud briefings in the expo hall as well as its Shark Tank event, where partners grilled vendors, and many exhibitors connected with attendees whom they said were among the highest quality they had met.
But, of course, besides getting business done, Cloud Partners attendees made time for typical Mardi Gras activities, including dinners in the Garden District and the French Quarter, and taking in the unusual sights on Bourbon Street.