New President Of Rolta AdvizeX: We Want More Profit From Services

The new president of solution provider giant Rolta AdvizeX wants to invest more in service delivery in an effort to balance its profit mix and complement its technical expertise.

C.R. Howdyshell, who took over as president of the Independence, Ohio-based company earlier this year, said he wants Rolta AdvizeX to split its profit evenly between its service and product offerings, he told CRN in an interview. Right now, the product side drives about 70 to 75 percent of net income, he said.

"Our services business has experienced some very positive growth," said Howdyshell, who joined the company in 2003 and had most recently headed the Midwest region for Rolta – No. 98 on CRN's Solution Provider 500. "We compete in a highly competitive industry with other resellers. Our value-add and our differentiation is around our technical expertise and our ability to articulate the best strategy, the best solution for our customers."

[Related: In 2012, Oracle Services Giant Rolta Acquired SP500 Power AdvizeX]

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To drive more profit from services, Howdyshell said Rolta will invest in adding pre-sales solutions architects and service delivery professionals.

"Everything we do should be relevant to our customers, by helping them use technology as a business advantage. That, in turn, ensures we're more relevant to our core technology partners," he wrote in a blog post earlier this month.

Rolta AdvizeX, which has historically focused on data center technologies, wants to focus most on hybrid cloud, Howdyshell told CRN. "That in itself is a lot of work and a lot of effort to be able to articulate for customers the right solution."

"Hybrid cloud, we believe, will make us relevant [and] will keep us relevant," he added. "And for us, we really are going to work with our customers … and their journey to the cloud."

Another priority? Security, where the solution provider has seen "outstanding growth" in the last two years, Howdyshell said.

Rolta AdvizeX has high-level partnerships with several top technology vendors, notably Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco, Dell EMC and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). In his interview with CRN, Howdyshell said his company sees hyper-converged infrastructure as "probably one of the key new areas of opportunity," and is looking at Dell EMC's and HPE's hyper-converged solutions, especially after the latter's purchase earlier this year of hyper-converged startup SimpliVity, a deal he says will widen opportunities for HPE.

"We typically align with the number one or number two players in the industry," he said, "and we want to do the same when we look at the hyper-converged environment. Our preference is not to be "box pushers" [yet] to really understand the market or the hyper-converged space, and then put the best solution in place."

For Rolta AdvizeX to execute its strategy, "we need to stand behind our best-of-breed solutions and be able to go neck deep with those technologies versus put your toe in the water and be able to sell, basically, a box. That's not what we want to do," he said.

Howdyshell began his career in 1983 with Xerox, where he advanced through its sales organization to senior management roles over the next 17 years.

At Rolta AdvizeX, he succeeded Fred Traversi, who retired earlier this month after 15 years as president, yet remains an executive advisor. The two worked side-by-side between February and June before Traversi stepped aside. "You couldn't ask for better tutelage," Howdyshell said.