(Pictured above: Attendees gather at D&H Distributing’s Mid-Atlantic Summer Technology Show in Hershey, Pennsylvania, June 5.)
By Todd R. Weiss
A sampling of channel partners at D&H Distributing’s latest summer technology gathering revealed that IT security, cloud-based services and data protection themes remain high on the priority lists of business customers.
We spoke with several partners at the company’s conference, held Wednesday in Hershey, Pennsylvania, and learned that customers continue to ask about all three topics on a regular basis as they work to bolster their business IT operations.
“Customers are asking about cloud; they want to be all-cloud,” said Chip Evans, the president of Computerware, a VAR and MSP in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia. “People are giving up their office spaces and are going to a remote workforce. They want to do without physical hardware on premises. We’re seeing this more and more.”
Clients regularly ask for quotes on what it would take for them to take their operations to the cloud, typically for offices of 20-30 people, said Evans.
“Half the workforce now is now made up of millennials and they are used to buying things as a service,” which explains the continuing growth in that segment, said Evans. “I know that’s where things are going. As a service can be more expensive, but it can be more convenient for businesses.”
Also important as always for customers is providing additional services for IT security, he said.
“The biggest thing that keeps me up at night is the possibility of a client getting hacked,” he said. “It hasn’t happened yet, but it keeps me up at night.”
Overall, staying ahead of customer needs is an important part of his business, said Evans.
“Tech evolves,” he said, “so there are always new things we haven’t done before, but we figure it out.”
George Tyson, a sales consultant for Korporate Computing, a reseller and MSP in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, said he’s hearing questions from customers on a weekly basis about how they can move their work to the cloud to simplify their IT infrastructure and how they can add redundancy for data protection.
“With lower costs for internet and data storage, it’s now attainable for everybody,” even smaller businesses, he said.
One challenge Tyson said he sees more often is that decision-makers inside businesses have been changing and that many see expenses as per-month costs, rather than as capital expenses for new technologies and services.
“You can get their attention with as-a-service offerings,” but you must question your clients to find out what they want and need for their operations, he explained.
“We’ve done a fairly good job of that, with more than [half] of our clients using some form of managed services,” he said. “It’s all about explaining to the client how those services can help them. I believe that one size does not fit all. Sometimes you don’t go in with a forklift, but instead you go in with one step of the process and demonstrate it.”
With that start to a new technology, sales and recurring revenue can sprout, he said.
“Customers will typically embrace additional services as the relationship grows,” he added.
Another MSP partner, Josh Boyd, the CEO of Computer Pros in Nashville, told Channel Partners the biggest issues on his customers’ minds in the SMB, educational and health care markets are IT security, data and systems redundancy — and moving operations to the cloud.
“We do virtual CIO services, so customers consult us on …