One of the highlights of the year for BPO Media is CompTIA’s ChannelCon, as it’s an incredible mix of vendors and end-users encompassing both Workflow and The Imaging Channel. When the panels and presentations were done for each day, more than 160 exhibitors showed off their wares at the technology fair. Booths with hardware and software dealers, service providers, security companies, call answering services and more filled the Bellagio’s Grand Ballroom.
Here are some highlights from the show floor.
In the past, web servers would simply stop working when a ton of clients would try to connect to them at once. If you had a busy website before 2004, you’d have to buy extra servers — some of which might go unused for some periods of time — to support influxes of traffic. In the computer science world, this is called the C10K problem. On a budget sheet, it’s called expensive.
Then along came Igor Sysoev. He developed Nginx, which solves the C10K problem with roughly 200,000 lines of code (which Nginix’s Matt Marlier said is actually a very small amount of code for what it does). This innovation enabled businesses to scale websites and cloud solutions without letting hardware costs run out of control.
Sysoev released the software as open source in 2004 and then started his own company under the same name in 2011. The company recently sold to F5 Networks for $670 million, but still provides customers with load balancing, cloud, security, applications delivery, API management and other services under the Nginx brand.
In a neighboring booth, we met David Cook, CEO of Carbon Systems. Cook has a very interesting origin story. A self-starter, he launched his first company, an MSP business, after graduating from high school, but admits he wasn’t very good at it. After that venture, Cook started Carbon Systems to “partner with local IT providers to provide the best IT hardware solutions tailored to the needs of small and midsize businesses.” The company specializes in designing systems for SMBs, and while the portfolio currently includes servers and workstations, it will also start selling notebooks in the near future.
Donning a white lab coat, standing just below a green sign that read “420MSP,” Harry Brelsford was selling his book, How to be an MSP. The book aims to educate entrepreneurs about “entering the lucrative field of providing technology solutions, services and products to the ever-growing cannabis industry.”
The book is the backbone for the 420MSP community, which is made up of experts in the MSP and CBD/cannabis market. While some dealers and MSPs might be skittish about entering an industry shrouded in taboo, the 420MSP community makes a convincing case. Unlike traditional customers in mature markets, customers in the CBD/cannabis space aren’t telling MSPs what they’re worth or that a competitor can do it cheaper. And rather than settling to whichever customers are willing to do business with them, MSPs have the luxury of picking and choosing their clients. Being one of the few experts in your area also you gives you an enormous edge, as you are more suited to solve problems that are unique to the industry.
Even though more and more employees are working remotely, be it from their home office or on the road, they still need to collaborate with their colleagues. Now more than ever, workers need clear and simple lines of communication. Wildix scratches that itch with a portfolio of browser-based unified communications solutions and VoIP products. Typically aimed at SMBs with 50 to 1,000 users, the scalable solution enables customers to deploy video conference, chat and user presence capabilities.
When we call a business these days, we don’t expect to talk to a human — at least not initially. So when the folks at Smith.ai — a virtual receptionist, chat, cloud-based phone system company with the letters AI in their name — told us that actual human beings are manning their phones, we were surprised.
Both Smith.ai’s virtual receptionist product and chat solutions are built to capture and qualify leads and book new clients. Each solution includes U.S.-based receptionists from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, forwarding only calls that overflow. Smith.ai will also handle appointment and call back scheduling, as well as handle follow ups, work status updates, and appointment reminders.
These are just a small sampling of the many companies exhibiting at the CompTIA ChannelCon technology fair, which had just about everything from the companies that fixed the internet to the ones who want to push the industry into new spaces. You’ll find dealers and service providers with solutions for every problem under the sun, and experts who can explain exactly how and why they work.