Many years ago when I worked at an IT distributor, I remember a Director asking the question, “what one word encapsulated the IT market in the 80’s?” We pondered this, and the final word we plumped for was “change”. Change was a great way to describe the ‘80’s in terms of technological advancement. Character-based interfaces transformed into graphical windows, computer processor power was ever increasing, modems were becoming exponentially faster, and email was taking off. The status quo was being challenged and market-leading products were under threat – just think of Lotus 1-2-3, WordPerfect, dBase, Dowty Quattro modems and more. The IT channel was exploding with resellers, distributors and specialist networking organisations rapidly growing and taking advantage of Novell’s boom. It was truly an exciting era in IT.

The 1990’s and 2000’s saw a lot of bedding down. Certainly, sales of SAN and NAS devices grew. Microsoft took charge of the OS and corporate application markets, and of course the internet expanded. But it wasn’t quite the radical change seen in the ‘80’s.

If you were to ask me now what word would encapsulate the current IT channel marketplace, “change” would still be an option. However, I think of today’s environment more as one of “evolution”, and rapid evolution at that.

Traditional resellers are evolving into service providers. Many traditional hosting providers are evolving to offer data protection services, and there has been a huge growth in RMM (remote management and monitoring) service providers who are evolving to offer remote data protection.

This rapid evolutionary phase has been driven by the fact that wide area connectivity prices are at an all-time low whilst bandwidth capabilities are now at a point that migrating data over a WAN is viable. This has created a whole new opportunity in the market that is reminiscent of the American gold rush era. It is clearly a land grab time, and there will be a lot of “change” in the market, the way clients do business and the way data protection is done. But whilst “change” is still a very apt description for the current state of IT, I believe that “evolution” better describes the way companies are looking to buy IT (from owning to leasing) and how the channel is looking to satisfy this fast-growing market.

What do you think?