Most of the chatter at this week's CompTIA Breakaway conference (Aug. 9-12, San Antonio, Texas) will involve cloud computing and SaaS channel partner strategies. But The VAR Guy will be looking beyond the cloud hype to explore additional channel trends and reality checks. Here are seven themes and news tips worth tracking.

1. Freemium Software: In recent months N-able -- the remote monitoring and management (RMM) specialist -- has been promoting a range of freemium software. Listen closely for N-able to make additional announcements at Breakaway. And don't be surprised if Own Web Now -- led by Vlad Mazek -- announces some freemium moves of its own.

2. The New Normal: The Channel Vanguard Council is expected to unveil a white paper exploring how emerging technologies and economic pressures are reshaping the IT reseller and services channel. Ziff Davis veteran Larry Walsh and several channel pundits put together the in-depth piece. Watch for it to surface at the conference.

3. IT Nation Grows: Listen for ConnectWise to announce some new community and social media milestones. The VAR Guy plans to check in with Jeannine Edwards, director of ConnectWise Community, for details. Meanwhile, ConnectWise 2010.4 with two-way Zenith Infotech integration is expected to ship in the next few weeks.

4. Fearsome Foursome: The VAR Guy will be watching closely as Microsoft and Google share the stage during a channel chief power panel featuring:
Brown and Gough will surely describe how the worlds of on-premises software and cloud applications will compete and converge. But listen closely to Intel and Cisco as well; the chip giant has been working on an Intel Hybrid Cloud solution. And Cisco's Andrew Sage is working with his team on a global SMB and commercial push that should be announced within 60 days or so.

5. The Great Escape: Some event attendees will likely escape to the San Antonio Riverwalk. But in The VAR Guy's case, our resident blogger plans to head to this local fiesta.

6. From VARstreet to East Street?: Autotask acquired VARstreet in early 2010 as part of a push to help VARs source products in a more profitable manner. By May 2010, VARstreet had doubled its user base. So what's next? Autotask CEO Bob Godgart should be on hand to provide some answers.

7. Born to be Wild?: Rumor has it Lenovo will give away a Harley Davidson motorcycle to one lucky CompTIA Breakaway attendee. The VAR Guy isn't permitted to accept such gifts. But he'd be happy to help the winner break in the engine...

The VAR Guy will be blogging live throughout the week at CompTIA Breakaway. Assuming our resident blogger really exists, he looks forward to meeting plenty of readers at the conference.

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