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As cloud computing becomes more of a reality, the role of distributors has become a wild card subject, with many VARs and cloud software companies debating the value that distribution can bring.
For their part, distribution CEOs say they’re betting big on the cloud, though in some cases they’re not sure how they’ll get there (or at least they’re not ready to reveal their plans). CRN’s Scott Campbell caught up with several distribution executives at the Global Technology Distribution Council’s recent CEO Insight conference in New York. Here’s what they had to say:
Tom Dolan, Chairman, Westcon Group
There’s room to play. In our environment, both internally and externally, we intend to participate in distributing cloud services. Our internal IT infrastructure is morphing into a cloud-based environment. Like most businesses, you like to have a fixed expense turn into a variable expense with 1,800 employees. We have an e-mail system. We used to have a fixed investment in staff to support it. Now we use an outsourced solution and pay seat per month. As our headcount scales up or down, expenses scale with it. It’s very appealing.
As far as external, we’re not prepared to talk about that now. But the tradition of bringing scale still applies. In the case of larger competitors, it’s global scale ... First you need to attract a broad base of customers. In addition to a global base of customers, there’s aggregation. Rather than getting 140 bills a month for services pass-through, to get one account where you can properly maintain sub-billing down to customers will be a big thing.
Bob Dutkowsky, CEO, Tech Data
I think there’s a lot of energy around cloud computing. It’s interesting, but I think it’s a little ahead of its time. Are these really sea changes happening in the market, or are vendors trying to create energy around things?
The fact of the matter is there are public and private clouds. Do you know where your Google cloud is? I don’t think customers care where it is. They just care where it gives you service.
I don’t see it as a major change in the way computing works. Tech Data and companies like ours have adjusted adjusted for 35 years. We started selling diskettes. As sea changes happen, there’s always going to be a need for the most efficient route to market.
If you think of a distributor as pick, pack and ship, why would a cloud company need that? If you think of us as a sales and marketing engine, we can sell and market anything. Tech Data has upwards of 2,000 sales and marketing people across the world. Last year we sold $22 billion worth of stuff. It just so happens to be technology. It could be services. It could be sneakers if we wanted to focus on that. We’re a sales and marketing cloud. The HPs and Ciscos of the world view us as a virtual sales organization. Cloud is a virtualization application engine. If anything over the years, we’ve proven we’re resilient and can adjust to anything.