What is in this article?:
Emerging tech is exciting stuff to talk about, but most channel partners know to take the hype with a grain of salt. Just because there's something mind-blowing coming out of an R&D lab somewhere doesn't mean partners will be able to make money off of it anytime soon. We reached out to a handful of industry experts to get their take on the hottest tech trends of 2017. Will they live up to the hype?
Blockchain technology is still the channel’s bright and shiny new penny. Like the Internet of Things last year, blockchain is the newest trend that analysts, vendors and engineers are heralding as the Next Big Thing. While most recognize it as the technology that supports cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, it’s the potential it shows in a vast array of other applications that has the channel all atwitter.
Blockchain is a distributed data structure supported by peer-to-peer protocols. Essentially, it forms an immutable, decentralized ledger for transactions, which is what makes it perfectly suited to fintech. But it also holds possibilities, say experts, in fields such as manufacturing, transportation and healthcare. Basically, blockchain comes in handy anywhere you need a chain of custody, such as tracking who’s signing into apps, visiting certain sites or digitally signing documents.
Nitrio acknowledges blockchain’s potential, but doubts it will have big implications for the channel. “I can envision the potential for widespread adoption of block chain technology for anything involving financial transactions,” he says. “Bitcoin may be the most well-known application, but I have heard that it is also being used for supply-chain management.”
As with all new disruptive technologies, Nitrio says the blockchain will need to prove that it is both secure and reliable if it is to become mainstream—and when it comes to the channel, he doesn’t see a lot of opportunity anytime soon. “I see this as something that works at a macro level and is not very likely to be a channel play.”
But Sean Hollingsworth, a longtime channel partner with companies such as Enlogic Sytems and IT4USA, sees a tangential opportunity for partners. If you just look at Bitcoin, he says, the infrastructure needed to give it integrity is massive. “You would basically need probably five or six megawatts of data center just to track the currency for everybody to use.” Blockchain, in whatever application, requires vast cloud infrastructures, and the associated transactions are “going to end up just being a virtual session on either an entire data center of LAN chassis or CISCO ETS or whatever the next major server technology is.”
So for partners well-versed in storage, especially hyper-converged solutions where compute and storage are contained within the same array, blockchain may present big opportunities as it lives up to its hype in other industries.