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BlogPartner Network6 Lessons Learned at Channel Partners Conference & Expo

6 Lessons Learned at Channel Partners Conference & Expo

6 Lessons Learned from this Year's Channel Partners Conference & Expo

Vegas doesn’t sleep. You can never quite predict what’s going to happen next, and it attracts some of the most colorful characters society has to offer. Those are just some of the reasons that make it the perfect location for one of the largest IT channel events on the calendar. 

Informa’s Channel Partners Conference & Expo and sister event the MSP Summit are a four-day affair in the vast Venetian Convention and Expo Center. It’s a who’s who of the industry, attracting VARs, MSPs, ISVs, telcos, vendors, and distributors from across the globe.

Talking open source alternatives

As a new addition to the company, and as Linode’s channel champion, I was at the booth, having plenty of great chats with partners, dishing out the now legendary Linode swag, and showcasing open source alternatives for IT service providers including applications for:

  • VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure)
  • Documentation Management/Storage
  • Comprehensive Security Management
  • Offsite Backups/Disaster Recovery

Interested in use cases? Check out our latest MSP ebook.

In case you weren’t able to make it and to give you just a taster of why you might like to be at future events, here are my top six takeaways.

  1. In-person still matters

The pandemic showed us that it’s possible to be more selective with events and face-to-face meetings. However, with over 7,400 attendees, Channel Partners also demonstrates that when there’s enough value, the demand is still absolutely there from the community.

Events like this remain a terrific way to network with peers, keep up to speed with the latest industry trends, and a unique opportunity to strengthen relationships with multiple customers and suppliers under one roof.

  1. ‘Cooperatition’ is alive and well 

IT service providers aren’t the only ones who can work together with competitors for the greater good.

In the panel discussion, “Cloud Alternatives for Small MSPs“, Blair Lyon, vice president of cloud experience at Linode, joined Shane Zide, global vice president of Vultr, and Robert Jacobi, director of WordPress for MSP Cloudways for a lively discussion. The trio talked about how smaller IT service providers can benefit from working with alternatives to AWS/Azure/GCP including:

  • Closer working relationships and access to expertise
  • More personal support 
  • Simpler onboarding
  • Few barriers to entry such as technical certification
Cloud Alternatives for Small MSPs at Channel Partners
  1. It’s a better time than ever to be an IT service provider

We arrived at the event to the breaking news that Kaseya would be acquiring Datto, prompting discussion like this and setting the scene at the event for conversations around M&A. As an IT service provider, you probably know that you’re incredibly hot property right now. 

While this confidence in the space is a good news story in my opinion, if you’re the business owner, the opportunity for investment does apply some pressure to be making difficult decisions about your future. 

Is investment right for you? How do you want your business to look in the years ahead? Is an exit on the horizon?

If you’re not sure, reach out to the community – they’re here to support you. If you need help knowing where to look, let us know and we’ll point you in the right direction.

  1. SMB is where it’s at right now

“SaaS and cloud are enabling SMBs to consume technology at an incredible pace, and it’s driving everything.” The paraphrased words of Andrew Sage, Cisco‘s vice president of global distribution and small business sales during a session entitled the “Ultimate Power Panel.”

In a fascinating talk with representatives from Threatlocker and Microsoft, the panel warned of being exclusively reliant on larger customers and to instead spread risk with a higher number of SMB clients, a segment that’s also seeing unprecedented growth. 

It’s an exciting time to be offering cloud solutions tailored for the SMB space.

  1. Zero Trust isn’t actually complicated

It’s no surprise that following attacks on Kaseya, Solarwinds, and Microsoft Exchange last year, security continued to dominate the conversations.

Danny Jenkins, Threatlocker’s CEO talked about zero-trust applications and because marketers, in particular, can be misleading in this area, I really appreciated his concise explanation of Zero-trust taken from the Whitehouse Executive Order (Section 10, K). 

Zero Trust at Channel Partners
  1. All-you-can-eat pricing probably isn’t the future

As an IT service provider transitioning from break-fix to managed services, ‘all-you-can-eat’ unlimited support contracts were once a simple and attractive method for pricing services.

In the panel discussion “Unlocking Fast Growth,” New Charter’s Mitch Morgan talked about how these models likely need revisiting in the face of the global skills shortages we’re seeing.

If your labor costs have increased then that’s the basis for a discussion with your customers around their pricing. It may be time to think about pricing services individually to cut costs and introduce upsells instead.

That was a tiny snapshot of the insight from the event. I hope it served as a taster. Here’s a list of where we will be next. 

Linode at Channel Partners

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