ScanSource's acquisition of Intelisys will drive more alignment between distributors and master agents as the channel looks to support both devices and networks, according to a distribution executive.
"I think it [the ScanSource-Intelisys deal] is positive for all distribution," said Peter DiMarco, vice president of VAR sales for Harrisburg, Pa.-based D&H Distributing. "It validates the entire channel strategy around providing holistic cloud services."
DiMarco told CRN that customer conversations around telecom carriers have become much more frequent over the past 18 months as more managed service providers are now incorporating cloud services into their portfolio of offerings.
"I've probably had more carrier discussions with VARs in the past 60 days that I had in the previous nine months," DiMarco said at D&H's New England Technology Trade Show in Quincy, Mass. "Every time you sell hosted voice, you may need a redundant network to provide support, you may need additional bandwidth."
DiMarco said he's had preliminary conversations with a number of master agents who are interested in partnering with D&H around telecom, cloud services and infrastructure. Some D&H partners have already built a whole business around it, DiMarco said, with one of the company's customers dedicating a sales rep to work on nothing but carrier services and telecom.
But DiMarco characterized the overall appetite for telecom services among D&H's customer base as "mixed," with many smaller MSPs preferring to work with a referral partner since it's not strategic to their core business. For this reason, DiMarco doesn't think distributor acquisitions of master agents will become a rapid trend and predicts that most distributors will initially opt for partnerships instead.
"Distributors and master agents have been trying to get together for years," DiMarco said. "It's a natural adjacency."
D&H can help blend IT and telecom services together and make it easier for partners to blend buy-sell and annuity-based business models together by putting more resources, support teams and alliance agreements in place, DiMarco said.
Although the aggregation of telecom agents by master agents presents a tremendous opportunity to distribution, DiMarco cautioned that the complexity is beyond anything distributors currently encounter.
"When you get into the carrier services world, you get into all different type of billing requirements at the state level that distribution isn't necessarily ready for now," DiMarco said.