Ronnie Altit left his role as general manager of data centre solutions at Dimension Data to fill a gap in the market for a professional services specialist. CRN's Sholto Macpherson had a quick chat with Altit about how a company like Insentra fits into the channel family.
CRN: Why did you decide to launch a professional services outsourcer?
Ronnie Altit: The concept came from running professional services teams and always running into the issue of not having enough people to get a project done, and sometimes having too [many people]. I could have created an integration business, [but] I think there's a hole in the market that needs to be filled.
CRN: For this kind of specialist work can't resellers get engineers from vendors? Why would they go to Insentra?
Altit: From a vendor's perspective they have finite resources and are typically focused on larger corporations. When others want to use those resources they're either unavailable or only at very high rates. There are certain vendors where there are gaps in the market.
CRN: So Insentra provides engineers for hire when resellers don't have enough for a job?
Altit: It's not about, "We need to deliver; can you send us a body?" Insentra is not a group of contractors that people can hire out. We're working with a customer to design and implement a project and provide project management. For a reseller who has the skills [we provide] we can help with overflow work or if they don't have skills [we] can act as that bench [of specialist staff] for them.
CRN: Some distributors offer a similar service, don't they? I know Westcon has business process outsourcing.
Altit: Westcon's doing that for Westcon's channel partners. Also it's a question of where are the specialist skills. For example, Westcon is not a Symantec partner.
CRN: Cisco is pushing its resellers to work together if a customer is multinational. Won't resellers make up staff shortages by pairing up with another reseller?
Altit: Any org in any industry is reluctant to give business to their competitors. It's the least preferred alternative. First you go looking for a contractor, then you go to the vendor, and thirdly a competitor. The competitor is always the last port of call. The danger of introducing competitors always goes through your mind when you're looking for someone to help out on a project.
CRN: Right now Insentra only offers services for two vendors. Do you have plans to expand?
Altit: Our intention is to stay focused on our vendors. We are not planning on adding five or six vendors to the mix. The key is being specialist.
CRN: It's tough for anybody to make sure their most expensive staff are producing income the whole time. Insentra will take that burden from resellers, then?
Altit: It's the key to any services business. It's fundamentally driven by the resources you have and the output you deliver. we have a very strong customer ethic and we have goals to ensure we deliver.
CRN: So are you looking for staff?
Altit: We've been advertising for staff and are very close to making some appointments. How many staff depends on how the model takes off. At the moment we are looking for five to 10 people.
CRN: Are you working on any projects right now?
Altit: We are working with integrators and vendors already. There is no distributor, integrator and reseller we see that we can't be adding value to those organisations.
CRN: For the record, Insentra is definitely not a reseller?
Altit: No. We don't sell any product. We aren't a reseller at all.