Forward-thinking resellers have long wrapped services around infrastructure sales, but they’re no longer alone in the channel. Distributors are devising new added-value services to stamp their relevance on an increasingly virtualised channel.
Basic services, such as billing and drop-shipments, have long been part of a distributor’s arsenal, but they are no longer just a “post office and a bank”, says Alloys chief executive Paul Harman. True to its mantle as the ‘non-traditional distributor’, Alloys crafts bespoke solutions depending on an individual reseller’s needs, he adds.
Distribution Central is taking its own efforts further by providing pre-qualified sales leads, “not just marcomms”, says managing director Nick Verykios. He reckons distributors could do more to provide recurring revenue for their resellers.
Westcon Group sales director David Hook sees more opportunity for distributors to provide resellers with difficult services, such as information security “because there’s an easy way to prove the vulnerabilities and the fixes”.
While distributors climb the value chain, they’re at pains to say they’re no threat to resellers.
“This is complementary with existing business and not something that will compete,” says Jonathan Fox, general manager of Ingram Micro’s Advanced Solutions Group, of the distributor’s plans to value-add its services to resellers.
That goes doubly for distributor Rhipe, which last year acquired Microsoft partner nSynergy. “This was to make a service available to the channel,” says Rhipe chief commercial officer Warren Nolan. “When an opportunity comes to that business, we’ll look to incorporate a partner.”
Avnet Australia VP & GM Darren Adams says that although the IT channel is changing, distributors are still an “aggregation point”. Avnet provides infrastructure to free the reseller to manage the customer, he says. “We give resellers back time and that is the most valuable commodity.”
CRN has spoken to many of the biggest distributors in the Australian channel to compile this overview of the kinds of value-added services being provided. It is by no means an exhaustive list and many distributors have similar offerings, so talk to your preferred suppliers to understand how they can help.
- Alloys: Paul Harman, CEO
- Avnet: Darren Adams, VP & GM
- Bluechip Infotech: Johnson Hsiung, MD
- Dicker Data: Ben Johnson, GM marketing and strategy
- Distribution Central: Nick Verykios MD
- Hemisphere Technologies: Peter Phokos, MD
- Ingram Micro: Daniel Dainton, cloud senior regional manager; Jonathan Fox, GM Advanced Solutions Group
- Nextgen Distribution: John Walters, MD
- Rhipe: Warren Nolan, Chief commercial officer
- Synnex: Kee Ong, CEO
- Westcon: David Hook, Sales director
‘White label’ services to resell as your own
Cloud migration and onboarding
With last month’s launch of its Cloud Marketplace, Ingram Micro added its automated platform for Office 365 migrations using software tool SkyKick. Daniel Dainton, Ingram Micro Cloud senior regional manager for A/NZ, says its channel advice service also helps resellers select the best cloud service. “Technology doesn’t solve problems by itself; the customer support is a key component.”
Rhipe is also providing white label migration services to its reseller base of 1,500 active partners.
This follows the news in April that Microsoft Australia had named Ingram Micro and Rhipe as the first ‘two-tier’ Cloud Solution Providers (CSPs), allowing resellers to buy Office 365 from them as a monthly subscription.
Avnet offers cloud migration support through its infrastructure services. Avnet Services helps resellers design hybrid solutions on IBM’s SoftLayer, including scoping workloads, migration, hosting, tuning, support and content-delivery networks. Avnet’s Darren Adams says with migrations “from on-premise to hybrid or full-fledged public cloud, there’s a lot of work. You’re looking at process and procedures, billing, and provision requirements.”
Cloud portals and marketplaces
Avnet was one of the first to have a one-stop cloud shop in 2012 and has expanded its features since.
Many disties are now in the process of establishing these ‘app store’-esque ordering portals, which resellers can typically white-label as their own.
Ingram Micro used its IM Experience roadshow in June to announce it had gone live with its marketplace. It initially covers Microsoft cloud software, but there is scope to expand to a huge range of vendors (as it already does overseas).
Dicker Data is preparing its cloud portal this month. “It will allow our reseller partners to white-label our portal and provide a dedicated link to their end customers to manage their cloud commitments,” says Dicker Data’s Ben Johnson.
Distribution Central’s DC CloudSelect is a mature aggregator of 200 cloud providers for procurement, provisioning, integration billing and management. Verykios says the company is deep in research and development to expand the tools available, focusing on “revenue-increasing opportunities”.
Cloud will become an increasingly important offering from distributors as IT complexity grows, says Westcon Group sales director David Hook. “We will never build a [cloud] service so we’re not building a data centre,” Hook says of its ‘digital distribution’ strategy. “Our value is to provide a platform [to] distribute service providers’ services [be that] AWS, Microsoft or local service provider, a reseller or SI.”
Westcon acquired US cloud platform provider Verecloud last September. It currently offers Cisco and OfficeBox. “Resellers can come to Westcon, stand up a webstore, and provide cloud services to an end-user community as if they built those services themselves. Westcon can manage the billing and provisioning mechanism.”