Education Market Paid Off For Channel In 2016, Survey Says

(NOTE: This story was originally posted to April 10.)

Cloud, security and managed services made the education market more lucrative in 2016, according to the results of survey conducted by ITBestOfBreed's parent, The Channel Co.

More than half of channel partners surveyed saw a double-digit increase in 2016 sales to state, local and education (SLED), the results revealed. And, nearly a quarter of the 170 respondents reported a 2016 SLED revenue uptick of at least 20 percent, according to a web-based quantitative study conducted in advance of The Channel Co.'s XChange SLED 2017 event, which takes place May 23 and 24 in Atlanta. 

"The SLED market is exciting; it's very dynamic," said Liz Anthony, senior vice president of marketing for Herndon, Va.-based ViON. "You can see some pretty immediate results as they move into new technologies that are innovative."

[RELATED: Solution Providers See IoT Channel Opportunities In The SLED Market]

Some solution providers – 28 percent of survey respondents – identified cloud services and solutions as their fastest-growing SLED technology area, with Software-as-a-Service called out as the fastest-growing cloud technology for SLED businesses.

"The customers want 'as-a-service,' especially in the SLED space," Anthony said. "They're struggling with cost containment and resources."

Cloud adoption began at the state government level, Anthony said, as department and agencies began taking advantage of the dynamic Amazon Web Services model to reduce costs. But as the cloud moves into the higher education setting, Anthony said a hybrid model became more important given the restrictions around how student records and health records can be stored.

Managed services were the fastest-growing area of SLED for 19 percent of solution providers surveyed as Anthony said government entities want to shift their finite IT resources to more mission-critical work. 

"A huge number of people are on the cusp of retirement, so that's the driver for looking at cloud and managed services," Anthony said.

And 14 percent of solution providers indicated security services and solutions were their fastest-growing SLED technology areas, with anti-virus/malware/spyware/threat management pinpointed as the fastest-growing security technology for SLED businesses.

The need for enhanced security protections stems from many state agencies dealing with sensitive data such as health records, tax information and motor vehicle records, Anthony said. State CISOs share a lot of information among themselves and with their federal counterparts to ensure that citizen data remains secure, she said.