Arrow Extends Cloud Enablement Offerings To North American Partners

"I haven't met a single solution provider over the last several months who doesn't have a major interest in this space and hasn't begun to place bets," said Jim Livingston, vice president of services for Arrow’s enterprise computing solutions business in North America. "Whether you are selling based on speeds and feeds or service-level agreements, there is a lot of discussion around the selling motions, and how best to meet the needs of the end customers. So we are providing a platform to augment their efforts, and also helping them to deal with a variety of the business aspects of the move, including things like compensation, training and how to work with their customers."

The ArrowSphere cloud services platform was initially rolled out in Europe because some of the initial ownership of the program was out of Arrow's Paris facility, Livingston explained. He also noted that the move toward the cloud and managed services seems to gather momentum more quickly in Europe.

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The platform offers centralized billing and provisioning of a variety of cloud services, including storage, servers on demand, security and unified communications. Partners have the option of white labeling the brand.

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"The platform leverages Jamcracker technology for the aggregation, provisioning and billing engine, and we've driven the build out of a lot of our integration with a number of different service providers, leveraging IBM Cast Iron," Livingston added. "In addition to the platform, we've focused on some of the lessons-learned in order to create an overall ecosystem that extends what we do as a value-added distributor. This allows us to bring a catalog of cloud offerings to market, and allows the partner to brand it themselves. And we can aggregate contracts and pricing, and aggregate the billing function in order to help simplify the back office for them."

Enablement is delivered through a variety of mechanisms, including online training modules, workshops and discussions among teams. Areas of business model focus include assistance with assessing the impact of recurring revenue on cash flow, as well as sales compensation, on-boarding, branding, and catalog creation.

"Obviously, the platform is important table stakes, but at the end of the day, I think the main proposition is the enablement aspect that provides a rapid start into cloud offerings," said David Browning, president of ThinkASG, Inc., which Browning describes as a "consultative integrator" based in Irvine, Calif., that is moving toward adoption of a cloud model. "This allows us to go to our customers who currently buy from us in a product context and offer cloud-based alternatives. That quickly endorses us is a broader spectrum consultant.

"Arrow's done a good job of developing the ability for us to syndicate their efforts," he continued. "They've got everything ranging from help with negotiating the cloud provider contracts, marketing capabilities, relabeling, etc. All this helps us to take our first step into that [cloud] space."

The overall initiative entered North America as a beta test earlier this year.