Was it 1996 - the most turbulent year in the network reseller marketplace?
Or was it 1996 - the year when everyone, including your neighbour's dog, rediscovered the channel?
Whichever way you look at it, 1996 has at the very least given this paper plenty to write about.
The Com Tech reorganisation caused probably the most violent upsets to be felt in the channel for a long time, touching the operations of resellers in many product sets. Whether the value added distribution model is proving unworkable will be argued out next year, but the fact that the reorganisation of one company can have such a profound effect on the marketplace is perhaps telling in itself.
The Australian marketplace is a small pond in comparison with the many very big fish who play within it. Regardless, every major networking vendor is here, all fighting for the same pie.
It is not surprising then that all have been looking for new markets - the company of less than 100 employees has become the main target. There are literally tens of thousands of these - far too many for any vendor to cover on their own - and hence it is not surprising to find that even companies with such strong direct channels as Cabletron, IBM and Cisco have been keen to sign up resellers to cover the market. For a large vendor organisation, chasing this market alone simply does not make economic sense.
It is also true that the margin on these sales is far less than those on the large accounts, making them less attractive to a direct sales force. Vendors know this, which is why so many are making their programs as attractive as possible to get resellers on side.
So it looks as though small business will be the new battleground in 1997. And with the pressure in the big accounts not likely to lessen, the coming year is shaping up to be no less interesting than the passing one.