There is much speculation over the key events that the IT industry can expect in 2011. Mark MacGregor, CEO of Connect, sets out his top trends for the year ahead:
1. Increased corporate and national focus on data security
For most organisations, data security is steadily growing in importance and the recent WikiLeaks saga has merely highlighted the potential dangers of information leaks. The resultant pressure on CIOs and IT managers is only likely to increase as organisations become ever more dependent on the rapidly rising volumes of data that are critical to their operations.
Aside from the obvious fact that hackers are becoming more sophisticated in their attempts to steal valuable information, the recent fines that the ICO levied on both Hertfordshire County Council and A4e represent a demonstrable risk to both the bottom line and corporate reputation for any organisation that handles private data. The reality of these risks means that organisations will need to look at better protecting their data; it's no longer just about securing the network firewall but more about having an appropriate disaster recovery plan in place should something go awry. Acting as integration partners, the channel is perfectly placed to help organisations prepare to better protect their data before the worst happens.
2. Increased traction for the cloud
'Cloud computing' has been the self evident technology buzzword this year and that is unlikely to change in 2011. The difference though is that where there was much talk about the cloud in 2010, the coming year is likely to see the concept turn into real business for channel partners. Where businesses were once afraid of the inherent risks of the cloud, many have slowly come to recognise its advantages and are now beginning to accept that cloud computing services are sufficiently robust and secure. The fact is that cloud-based services offer a more convenient and flexible way of doing business.
For many companies, the benefits of switching to a cloud solution are starting to outweigh the risks. It's for these reasons that 2011 will see more businesses, outside of those IT-specific companies, starting to transform their bread and butter services to hosted online software solutions. This represents a significant opportunity for the channel to bundle all of these services together in one single offering, creating recurring revenue opportunities and opening up new sales channels.
3. Online backup gathers steam
During the recession, there was a genuine reluctance from companies to spend anything on hardware that was not absolutely essential. With data backup, this meant that updating servers or buying new storage equipment took a back seat. Consequently, many businesses are now faced with servers and systems that are running on out of date warranties or in need of updates with a hefty amount of money needed to catch up and replace these systems.
Rather than replacing servers at a substantial cost, 2011 will see most businesses will turn to cost effective, convenient cloud-based backup solutions and as a result, the momentum behind the move away from tapes or onsite storage will continue to grow. As this uptake increases, it is likely to be the channel that provides the guidance for clients to make the best decisions on the safest options for securing their critical data.