Hardware vs software

Software Driving Hardware

We were talking about [Christopher Barnatt]’s very insightful analysis of what the future holds for the Raspberry Pi single board computers on the Podcast. On the one hand, they’re becoming such competent computers that they are beginning to compete with lightweight desktop machines, instead of just being a hacker curiosity.

On the other hand, especially given the shortage and the increase in price that has come with the Pi’s expanding memory endowments, a lot of people who would “just throw in a Raspberry Pi” are starting to think more carefully about their options. Five years ago, this would have meant looking into what you could whip together on an Arduino-based platform, either on actual Arduino hardware or on an ESP8266 or similar, but that’s a very different beast from a programmer’s perspective. Working with microcontrollers used to be very different from working with even the smallest Linux machines.

These days, there is no shortage of microcontrollers that have enough memory – both flash and RAM – to support a higher-level environment like MicroPython. And if you think about it, MicroPython brings to the microcontrollers a lot of what people were using a Raspberry Pi for in projects anyway: a friendly interactive programming environment that was free of the compile-here, flash-there debug cycle. If you’re happy coding Python on a single-board Linux computer, you’ll be more or less happy coding in MicroPython or Circuit Python on a microcontroller.

And what this leaves us with, as hackers, is a fantastic spectrum of choices. Where before there was a hard edge between programming C on an 8-bit PIC or an AVR and working with something that had a full Linux operating system like a Pi, it’s all blurry now. And as the Pis, the Jetson, and all the other Linux SBCs are blurring the boundary with more traditional computers as they all become more competent and gain more computer-like peripherals. Nowadays your choice is much freer, and the hardware landscape more fluid. You don’t have to let software development concerns drive your hardware choices, and we think that’s a great thing.


Software, Cloud Are ‘Carrying’ The Channel As Hardware Spending Drops: Circana

Events Kyle Alspach August 21, 2023, 04:37 PM EDT

However, solution providers can expect a rebound in customer spending across categories starting in 2024, says Circana analyst Mike Crosby. ARTICLE TITLE HERE

Cloud and software were bright spots in the channel amid the slowdown in spending on hardware during the first half of 2023, according to an industry analyst at Circana.

But an improved demand environment across categories can be expected next year, said Mike Crosby, who is also an executive director at Circana, a research and advisory firm formed through the merger of The NPD Group and Information Resources Inc.

During a session Sunday at the XChange August 2023 conference, hosted by CRN parent The Channel Company, Crosby shared data on how much spending has been flowing through channel partners across hardware, software and cloud.

[Related: MSPs Seeing Record Sales With Big Growth In Security Services: XChange 2023]

During the first half of 2023, “the biggest impact [was] really around hardware,” Crosby told an audience of IT solution and service providers. “Software and cloud really are carrying us right now. Both are up and to the right.”

Spending through the channel on cloud — including infrastructure-as-a-service and platform-as-a-service — rose 23 percent during the first half of 2023, year-over-year, according to Circana data.

Meanwhile, software spending through the channel climbed 5 percent during the first six months of the year, from the same period a year earlier. Hardware spending dropped 16 percent, and overall spending fell 8 percent to $30.3 billion, according to the data.

The spending on cloud saw significant variation based on the size of the business, Crosby noted. In small businesses — those with fewer than 100 employees — cloud spending actually fell 9 percent during the first half of the year.

But in medium-sized businesses, cloud spending through the channel jumped 32 percent, and in enterprises it more than doubled during the first half of the year, surging 108 percent from the same period of 2022, according to Circana data.

On the whole in cloud, “we’re seeing more and more expansion even into verticals that weren’t traditionally first-to-market on cloud adoption,” Crosby said.Solution Provider Perspective

At Allixo Technologies, which specializes in offering managed cloud services for SMBs, the Circana data for the first half is “generally on par with what we’re seeing” in terms of a slowdown in demand, said Eli McCombs, solution specialist at the Mount Vernon, Wash.-based company.

Especially in the fourth quarter of 2022 and the first quarter of 2023, spending was “a little bit tighter,” he said.

However, as of right now, “I think things have loosened up a little bit,” McCombs said.

“I think we’re generally seeing things go back to normal,” he said — with a return in willingness to spend on moving to the cloud in order to eliminate the need for managing on-premises infrastructure.2024 Improvement

Indeed, Circana’s forecast is for the second half of 2023 to see an improvement across hardware, software and cloud, with spending down just 2 percent year-over-year, Crosby said.

And in 2024, year-over-year growth is expected in hardware in addition to continued software and cloud sales growth, he said.

The “expectations are that we’re going to be in pretty good shape come 2024, and even stronger in 2025,” Crosby said — driven not only by a return of improved macroeconomic conditions but also by PC refreshes, as a greater number of companies transition to Windows 11 devices.Kyle Alspach

Kyle Alspach is a Senior Editor at CRN focused on cybersecurity. His coverage spans news, analysis and deep dives on the cybersecurity industry, with a focus on fast-growing segments such as cloud security, application security and identity security.  He can be reached at kalspach@thechannelcompany.com.

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