Westcon-Comstor Launches First Marketplace

‘This is now the central place for partners to interact with us,’ said Rakesh Parbhoo, CTO of Westcon-Comstor


Rakesh Parbhoo, CTO, Westcon-Comstor

Distributor Westcon-Comstor has released its first multi-vendor marketplace, PartnerCentral, where partners will be able to configure, quote and order complex hybrid solutions with billing for software, hardware and services.

Just nine months after Westcon CEO David Grant spoke to CRN about trialing the marketplace, PartnerCentral is now available to markets across the world and aims to give partners an easier way to transcact, access business and customer insights, which it claims will capitalize on new opportunities and market trends.

Westcon says the marketplace is designed to “accelerate and simplify” the move to cloud and “as-a-service” payment models.

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“This marketplace is the central place for partners to interact with us. We used to have multiple tools available for partners but different ways to get there, different ways to log in,” Rakesh Parbhoo CTO of Westcon-Comstor, Tarrytown, N.Y., told CRN.

[Related: GTDC CEO Vitagliano: Distributors Are Evolving To Be ‘Ecosystem Orchestrators’]

“So the core is about bringing all of this together: all the things that we offer to our partners in one place.

“We want to make it as simple as possible for us to transact with us. We’ve leveraged all of the work we’ve been doing around vendor integrations for the last few years.

“And we’re surfacing that capability for our partners, so they get to benefit from the automation capabilites that we have built out internally.”

He reveals that Westcon has invested “in the millions of dollars” to develop this marketplace and described it as a journey that will continuously be enhanced.

The Benefits—Data Is King

Parbhoo explained that PartnerCentral allows a partner to combine traditional hardware, perpetual software licenses, services and subscriptions into one place in a hybrid transaction, one of the key benfits of the new marketplace.

“I think sharing that level of data and information with partners is quite unique,” Parbhoo said. “We do it because we want the partners to have the ability to spot new opportunities and manage renewals in advance, because if you’re going to grow your business in a B2B world, you need to do that proactively.

“So, driving those capabilities is what we see as a differentiator,” he said.

Simplifying procurement and management of recurring subscriptions was also one of the aims set out by this new partner marketplace, he said.

“What PartnerCentral delivers is full transparency. It’s easy to see what subscriptions and opportunities are coming up for review,” he said . “A partner can manage a subsciption by suspending it, adding additional seats or reducing as needed based on the type of offering the vendor has.”

The Wider Move To Subscription Models

This issue was emphasized by recent research conducted by Westcon, which revealed a growing shift towards subscription and recurring revenue models in the industry.

“This is a journey that end customers have been on for some time, shifting the way they purchase technologies,” Parbhoo said.

“Most of them have some sort of a hybrid cloud model where they will have certain things in their environments and on-premises other workloads in the cloud. They are shifting from just one-off outlays to wanting to have their technology costs in line with their revenue income.”

“So it’s distributors who have to make sure that we’re adapting to those changing demands from the end customer side and the changing business model from the vendor side in order to support our partners.”

However, this shift in business models does come with challenges, Parbhoo conceded.

According to research conducted by the distributor, 78 percent of respondents highlighted that they are only partway through this journey migrating to subscriptions and services and face a variety of challenges in realizing full migration. And 52 percent cited the need to manage a complex multi-vendor portfolio as the biggest challenge they face.

Finally, 60 percent said they believe that a single platform to buy hardware and software will help accelerate this shift.

Parbhoo believes that’s where a distributor marketplace can step in to play a role in alleviating these challenges.

“The benefit of PartnerCentral is that it allows the partners to get what they need at their fingertips, and, at the most basic level, it frees up the time to have those more meaningful conversations, the more complex discussions, rather than dealing with the routine tasks,” he said.

“And on top of that, this is not just about the transactions.

“We have learning content. We have both soft skills and technical training that partners can access. We’ve got a lot of rich educational material around helping them with their business and marketing services capability.

“And the feedback we’ve had from a lot of partners in trial has been extremely positive. This is really providing business benefits over and above the things you’d expect around the transactional capabilities.”

He added: “ While the transactional benefits will significantly improve a partner’s day-to-day challenges - the insights that PartnerCentral brings will deliver so much more.

“It’s the access to robust reporting and insights [through Partner Insights] which allow partners to track their engagements with customers and surface wider industry trends that can help identify opportunities for growth. In short, PartnerCentral is a gateway to Partner Success.”

This article originally appeared on CRN’s sister site, CRN UK.