Channel partner programs

Jay McBain: Channel Alarmist Or Realist?

Jay McBain
Jay McBain

Roughly 1,000 channel partners and technology companies gathered in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., this week. The mood was upbeat. Earnings announcements across the IT industry have been mostly strong in recent months. VARs are successfully transitioning to cloud and managed services. It was time for a little rest and relaxation on the beach...

... Until ChannelEyes CEO Jay McBain arrived on the waterfront and essentially screamed "Shark!" Or as some other famous alarmists may put it:

  • Ripley: "Did IQs just drop sharply while I was away?"
  • Chief Brody: "You're gonna need a bigger boat."
  • Admiral Ackbar: "It's a trap."
  • John McClane: "Come out to the coast, we'll get together, have a few laughs..." and watch the traditional IT channel implode.

Signs of Trouble

Say what? The warning signs started when CompTIA CEO Todd Thibodeaux warned ChannelCon 2016 attendees that the technology industry's talent shortage is bound to grow larger unless the IT channel and Silicon Valley change their approach on mentoring today's high school kids.

But McClane -- er, McBain -- had a slightly different spin on the situation. In an open letter to CompTIA, McBain proclaimed that a shadow IT channel is emerging. It involves data-centric SaaS companies and their emerging IT consulting partners. I'm willing to go one step further.

Closing the Other Channel Gap

Now, the disconnect that McBain points out: SaaS vendors haven't quite engaged traditional VARs and MSPs. The situation is similar for the data and APM vendors I've mentioned. Nor have traditional channel trade shows really engaged those fast-growth vendors.

Bottom line: The talent gap that Thibodeaux described is real. But the disconnect between next-generation vendors -- Cloudera, HortonWorks, MapR, AppDynamics, New Relic -- and traditional VARs and MSPs is equally real.

So what's the next logical step for all of us? Step out of your comfort zone. McBain has been heads-down visiting non-traditional 'channel' events for the past few years. In terms of my my own travels, my next stop is New Relic's FutureStack 16 conference in New York on Aug. 9.

Come on in. The water's safe. Tell the 'new' vendors about existing events like ChannelCon. The real danger? Those who sit on the beach will never see the blue ocean opportunities that await you...

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.