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Room To Grow: How 4 Tech Data Partners Are Making Cloud, Security, IoT, And Services Inroads

Four Tech Data partners - RyanTech Cloud Services, RTM Communications, Zones, and Alpha Technologies - are tapping the new opportunities resulting from Tech Data's acquisition of Avnet Technology Solutions.

New investments and February's Avnet Technology Solutions acquisition are boosting business for Tech Data partners in cloud, security, IoT and services. Here's how they are making inroads.

Cloud

With Tech Data's help, solution provider RyanTech Cloud Services needed just four months to make its Microsoft Azure practice larger than its Of­ ce 365 practice, which had been the bedrock of its business for years. Kevin McMillen, founder and CEO of Tempe, Ariz.-based RyanTech, said the distributor has excelled at listening to feedback throughout the process.

"They're keen to make those changes that will help our business improve," McMillen said. Tech Data helped RyanTech handle the technical aspects involved in on-boarding new Microsoft Azure customers, McMillen said, while Tech Data's acquisition of Avnet Technology Solutions has increased its ability to offer PC management, network monitoring, and software migration services to end customers.

For example, the distributor held more than a dozen meetings to come up with a way to improve its back-end reporting around customer cloud usage. RyanTech in the past would receive three to five invoice PDFs each month covering services procured through Tech Data. That isn't the case any longer, he said.

"The billing practices of Tech Data prior weren't built for big business," McMillen said. "The changes they've made for us have allowed us to operate as a larger business entity, with thousands of invoices going back and forth between the companies in a very liquid fashion."

Now, McMillen said RyanTech has visibility through Microsoft Power BI into which customers are underutilizing specific cloud services. Those customers are targeted with email and phone campaigns with references from existing customers, detailed explanations of features available in other SKUs, and an examination of how their business could bene­ t from these services, McMillen said. "Being a cloud solution provider is an absolute must," McMillen said.

Security

Tech Data's Recon managed security service provides the ability to monitor and understand the correlation of security events as well as directly remediate issues, said Raymond Benoit, president and owner of Tech Data partner RTM Communications.

"Their job is to stay on top of it every day. My job is to do a dozen other things," Benoit told CRN. "While the worry is not eliminated, we know we have a good standing arm on our side."

Between Recon and CyberShark—which Tech Data said caters to end users with 50 or fewer employees — Benoit said he's pleased that Bedford, N.H.-based RTM can rely on third-party entities solely focused on security to understand the threat landscape and monitor it on the solution provider's behalf.

RTM wants to take advantage of additional security services offered through Tech Data such as complementary and paid assessments as well as managed security information and event management, said Benoit. The distributor excels at customizing its security programs for resellers based on their company size, he said. As a result, Benoit said Tech Data has enabled RTM to provide security through lower-cost, less-complex offerings that appeal to smaller businesses.

RTM has worked with Tech Data for 19 years, and the distributor has educated RTM extensively around business issues such as balance sheet, liquidity and managing the presentation of credit. The distributor also has assigned and guaranteed proceeds for deals larger than the overall size of RTM so that the parties are able to get the agreement done.

"I've never lacked for credit when I had a deal," Benoit said.


Internet of Things

Zones' IoT engagements with Tech Data in the past had focused on procuring routing, switching and wireless devices, said Stephen Lurie, vice president of digital transformation and IoT. But since Tech Data acquired Avnet Technology Solutions, the distributor been able to provide Auburn, Wash.-based Zones, No. 32 on the 2017 CRN Solution Provider 500, with more of a consultative approach.

This has come in handy in the manufacturing, transportation, retail and smart space verticals, said Lurie." They've kind of transformed themselves," he said. "We can go to them with vertical problems, and they come back with vertical solutions and expertise."

Tech Data helped Zones with an intelligent high-rise building project, where Lurie said the customer was looking for sensors that monitor temperature and humidity on each floor and could communicate with the network-enabled HVAC and lighting systems. The distributor put together a list of vendors with multiple sensors so that Zones could pick which one was right, Lurie said.

Tech Data also can handle IoT assessments around application hardware, software, security, insurance, billing and managed services, as well as design, deployment and mobile activation services, according to Lurie.

"We now have this bench we can pick and choose from," Lurie said. "We don't have to do it alone." Lurie has been impressed by Tech Data's willingness to learn and keep up with all of the changes in the IoT market. The distributor and Zones have focused on horizontal capabilities in areas such as physical security and access control that can span multiple verticals, he said.

Services

Tech Data pushed Alpha Technologies to move from project-focused system installations into recurring revenue services a year or two before it became fashionable, said President and CEO Doug Tate, enabling the Hurricane, W.V., solution provider to dip its toe in the water and learn from its mistakes. Alpha Technologies has gone from 15 percent managed services to 70 percent in just the past half-decade, Tate said. The distributor helped Alpha Technologies structure its business so that it wasn't tied to specific SKUs and position its services in a way that would make customers successful.

Conferences, mentoring systems and programs provided through Tech Data enabled Alpha Technologies to focus on the business side rather than the "geek side," Tate said. In fact, Tate said a one-day executive brie­ ng with Tech Data involved department leaders validating and advising the solution provider on its business strategy.

"They don't just want to be a company that takes my orders," Tate said. "They're invested in ensuring I'm successful, even if that means I'm not buying the latest whiz-bang products out there."

Alpha Technologies hopes to take the next step in its services journey by leveraging the consultative and professional services Avnet Technology Solutions has brought to the table, Tate said. He expects the mid- to senior-level technicians and engineers coming over from Technology Solutions to assist with everything from security and compliance audits to configuration support.

Alpha Technologies also has turned to the new Tech Data to train its new salespeople and some of its new technical staff, Tate said.

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