CRN Exclusive: D&H Adds Azure To Cloud Marketplace In Push To Quintuple Number Of VARs On Platform

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D&H Distributing has added Microsoft Azure to its cloud marketplace as the distributor looks to increase the number of channel partners on its platform from 300 today to 1,500 or 2,000 a year from now.

The Harrisburg, Pa.-based distributor said it plans to leverage Azure to address SMB-specific backup and disaster recovery needs, as well as build an offering within the Infrastructure-as-a-Service tool that provides VARs with the same functionality as Microsoft's legacy small business server, according to Peter DiMarco, D&H's vice president of VAR sales.

The announcement comes weeks after distribution competitor Tech Data launched its own pre-configured small-business cloud server for Microsoft Azure. DiMarco said the Tech Data launch validates the concept, and that D&H looks to differentiate itself in the cloud through the level of education and support it provides to partners.

[RELATED: CRN Exclusive: D&H Launches Training, Incentive Blitz To Double Its HPE Business Within Next Year]

The distributor takes a concierge-style approach toward training and enablement, DiMarco said, and sometimes spends 45 to 90 minutes on the phone with channel partners, holding their hands through the cloud on-boarding process.

"They're so resource-strapped, they need help," DiMarco told CRN during the Mid-Atlantic Summer Technology Trade Show in Hershey, Pa. "The more we help them on the front end, the more we're going to share in the rewards down the road."

D&H plans to create a combined on-premise and cloud turnkey offering to address the backup and disaster recovery space, DiMarco said. The distributor plans to bundle Microsoft Azure with Hewlett Packard Enterprise or Lenovo hardware to create a hybrid offering that enables VARs to easily move workloads to and from the cloud, according to DiMarco.

D&H will be focused for the remainder of the year on educating its partners around Azure, DiMarco said. The distributor is actively working to onboard an additional 1,000 partners to its cloud marketplace, which launched in November 2016 with support around Microsoft Office 365.

Office 365 usage is growing in the mid-double digits, DiMarco said, while Azure usage is enjoying low triple-digit growth rates since it's a newer product.

More than 500 of D&H's 4,000 to 5,000 VAR partners are waiting for the distributor to launch a cloud agent model, under which D&H will bill customers on behalf of its channel partners, DiMarco said. The agent model is intended for solution providers that have no interest in billing, buying or selling a cloud services catalog, but still wish to make money in the cloud.

Under this model, DiMarco said D&H will manage the transaction on behalf of channel partners and pay them a referral fee equivalent to a certain percentage of the eventual cloud transaction. Ingram Micro launched a cloud agent program and saw it gain significant traction among cloud partners, the distributor told CRN, while Tech Data debuted an agent program of its own earlier this year.

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