BlueStar’s VARTECH 2016 kicked off today in Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas. A variety of BlueStar’s team are on hand to provide great insight into the goings on within the industry and at the distributor. One trend that gets a lot of headlines is IoT (Internet of Things). I had a chance to speak with Duane Roebuck, IoT & WLAN business development manager for BlueStar about IoT. Specifically, what’s hype and what VARs and integrators should be keeping their eyes on.
Trend #1 — Software Becomes More Prominent
Whereas hardware used to drive the movement in this industry, Roebuck says software now is the key driver. Customers understand what they’re looking for from an experience or result, and are asking for solutions that meet those needs. Software is often the key to delivering on those expectations. Of course, he says, hardware still plays a significant role. “The key is for integrators to create a solution that marries software with the right hardware,” he says. To make life easier on its VARs, BlueStar has been vetting ISVs involved in this space. The result should be a catalog of potential partners VARs can use to build solutions.
Trend #2 — Barcoding VARs Are Getting Into IoT
Traditional barcoding VARs and integrators might not have the expertise or skill set necessary to design and build IoT solutions. Fortunately, Roebuck says BlueStar does. “We are trying to act as the bridge to help our traditional VARs get involved in IoT,” he says. “These people are tops in their fields, but ofter are uncomfortable taking it beyond their normal business.” The distributor can offer a range of support services and educating to get VARs involved. “We want to get them comfortable with being uncomfortable,” he adds. “The industry is changing and probably won’t return to what it was. They need to adapt.”
Trend #3 — “IoT” Is Hot
Everyone wants to figure out how to get their piece of the pie. With tens of billions of devices entering the world in the next few years, the opportunity isn’t going away. Get involved now.
Trend #4 — IoT Security Needs Addressed
There are a variety of factors coming into play here. First, not only are their tens of billions of connected devices, the mad rush to market hot new IoT solutions means that, in some cases, security was an afterthought. Second, there are foreign countries with entire government divisions dedicated to hacking. Third, more data is being stored in the cloud. Fourth, malware is at an all-time high. Roebuck uses the example of a home IoT device — a connected door lock — to drive home a point. “Imagine coming home and finding that your house has ransomware and to open the door you need to pay the ransom,” he says. Such an example, while extreme, is realistic. At a recent security conference, a couple people illustrated how a connected thermostat lacked security and could be installed with ransomware, requiring payment or locking in the temperature to 98 degrees.
What’s the play for VARs and integrators? Get smart about security. Get really good at network security, firewalls, and malware prevention. There are some companies in the managed services IT world who now lead with security as opposed to any other computer service offering.
Trend #5 — IoT-as-a-Service? Why Not?
BlueStar’s hybrid SaaS capabilities extend to IoT, allowing customers to get a best-in-class solution for a monthly fee. Don’t overlook this option if you’re getting into this space.