Arrow ECS’ ArrowSphere Matures From Cloud Marketplace To Complete Platform

ArrowSphere has served for over a decade as the cloud marketplace of Arrow ECS, but the distributor has now turned it into a complete digital collaboration platform to let partners automate how they conduct business from pre-order to post-deployments, including automated pre-configuration and deployment of applications on all the major public clouds.

Global IT distributor Arrow Electronics this week unveiled the expansion of its ArrowSphere cloud delivery and management system to become a full-service digital platform for its solution provider customers.

ArrowSphere, which is an offering of the distributor’s Denver-based Arrow ECS business which brings value-added distribution, business consulting, and channel enablement services to its solution providers, has now become an expanded digital collaboration portal for those channel partners, said Shannon McWilliams, global vice president of ArrowSphere.

ArrowSphere was started 12 years ago to manage the cloud business of Arrow ECS, but is now adding capabilities to bring new opportunities to channel partners, McWilliams told CRN.

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“Partners can now use ArrowSphere to see everything related to their Arrow ECS business from the time they place their orders, including past transactions,” he said. “And they can access that information 24x7.”

Arrow ECS’ business in the past was mostly email-driven, said McWilliams (pictured).

“We are saying now you don’t need email to transact,” he said. “Everything is on the platform. We’re moving from an email-driven process to a pure platform model.”

Within the new ArrowSphere are several transactional platforms, most of which are new, McWilliams said.

The first, ArrowSphere Cloud, is based on the company’s ArrowSphere Cloud Marketplace, which has now been refreshed with new security, cost optimization, and sustainability dashboards, he said.

ArrowSphere Marketplace allows channel partners access to the distributor’s entire North America line card to develop quotes, fulfill purchases, and register deals, McWilliams said. “It lets partners interact with Arrow ECS from quote to delivery,” he said.

Also new is ArrowSphere Deploy, a new set of tools to give partners with deep cloud expertise to provide cloud assessments and better understand businesses’ cloud cost, security, and compliance requirements, McWilliams said.

“Partners can take any application purchased through Arrow and launch it already pre-configured to any of four hyperscalers: Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, or Oracle Cloud,” he said. “We will do it on VMware Cloud next. We also support IBM Cloud through our existing ArrowSphere capabilities. ArrowSphere Deploy will likely support IBM Cloud in the future. IBM is a big vendor for us.”

The new ArrowSphere digital collaboration portal also includes ArrowSphere MyBusiness, a portal which gives partners a complete view of all quotes whether in-process or finished, along with all related shipping information, McWilliams said.

“Partners can also pay their invoices via MyBusiness,” he said. “Think of it as a total view of your business. There’s some business intelligence built in as well.”

Arrow ECS also expanded ArrowSphere Connect for partners who use EDI, or electronic data interchange, McWilliams said.

“A lot of larger, more mature partners want to use EDI in their systems,” he said. “ArrowSphere Connect is a gateway between partners and vendors for transactions. This is something we’ve been doing for years. Now we’re adding more automation.”

Epoch Concepts, a Littleton, Colo.-based solution provider, has been quietly testing the new ArrowSphere digital collaboration portal, and has found the parts it has tested, especially ArrowSphere MyBusiness, so far to be solid, said Christie Kramer-Codner, chief operations officer for the partner.

“MyBusiness is huge,” Kramer-Codner told CRN. “I run operations here. We are actively engaged with account managers focused on quotations. The quote aspect of MyBusiness is very fast. We develop BOMs (bills of material) that may have 10 to 15 vendors. With MyBusiness, we can upload spreadsheets with the BOM, and the system provides quotes for them all. And if we are not authorized to work with a particular vendor, we get a ‘button’ to become authorized. This is a huge savings in emails.”

ArrowSphere Marketplace has shortcuts to all the different parts needed to place orders, Kramer-Codner said.

“The Marketplace dashboard is amazing,” she said. “We can sort by SKU to make it easy to find the right products, and get both MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price) and the reseller price. Understanding our discount vs. the list price makes it easy to be as transparent as possible.”

Looking ahead, Arrow ECS already has development projects aimed at adding AI to ArrowSphere as a way for partners to be able to better find information they need to build their businesses, McWilliams said.