Channelling 2006: Your predictions for what lies ahead

Channelling 2006: Your predictions for what lies ahead


"Consolidation of storage and the data centre is a big piece of everyone's plan," he said. "This is occurring as a step to something else, such as virtualisation. Users can't get to this until they have consolidated their data centre.

Florian said enterprise application integration (EAI) was also becoming a core ingredient in its infrastructure services.

"IP telephony is certainly being looked at," he said. "But users are now working to integrate this with their Microsoft environment and getting information out to people. One area in which we are seeing evolution is vertical applications - for example, using IP telephony in healthcare, or a professional services firm."

Mobility was also becoming a significant factor in network integration and collaboration and would continue in leaps and bounds in 2006, Florian said.

Microsoft partner director, Kerstin Baxter, said the company had been working with telcos and hosting providers to develop remote applications for customers for a while.

"There is an emergence of great new mobility solutions and devices. But without strong integration solutions behind the scenes, these aren't useful," she said.

"With VoIP, wireless, mobility and people looking for more flexible working environments, there are plenty of convergence opportunities for our partners."

2005 was the year of upgrades for Microsoft, with the release of new versions of SQL Server, CRM, Great Plains ERP and Visual Studio development tools, Baxter said.

The software giant's message for 2006 was to emphasise the need for integration between the pieces, she said.

"In our channel community we're focusing on matching up complementary vendors that integrate well to tie these elements together," she said.

"There has been a maturing on the partnering perspective. Because of the vast knowledge needed in our whole industry, partners realise they can't deliver it all. It's better to partner then let the customer find someone else."

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