BEAR Data's New President On Cloud Computing, BYOD, More

What does the new president of BEAR Data Solutions think will be among the hottest IT trends that solution providers have to assist customers with now and in the very near future? According to Mark Biestman, who last month took the top slot at BEAR Data, a $112 million solution provider based in San Francisco, two areas will figure prominently in the next six to 12 months: helping customers sort out BYOD (bring your own device) and clarifying their cloud strategy.

Biestman understands the importance of his brand, as he was on BEAR Data's board for five years. "Under the good, sound leadership of CEO Don James, BEAR made an appropriate switch to a consultative sales approach," said Biestman. To that end, BEAR Data has reported 26 consecutive profitable quarters, with an annual growth rate of 37 percent.

Now, Biestman will turn more attention to customers wanting advice on cloud computing and to creating cloud strategies that are tailored to specific business needs. Companies are making significant investments in cloud computing, but, Biestman notes, the area can become confusing. Customers need guidance determining a number of strategies: How much storage can I have? How do secure my data? What is a private cloud?

"We're rolling out a series of services focused on midsize and small business customers," Biestman said. "We'll offer a quality product, at competitive prices. We've hired someone heading the area of getting cloud to the SMB and midmarket space. We want to create an attractive offer. It is logical and economical to be consumed by small and midsize businesses."

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Another big challenge facing SMBs is that of employees bringing their own personal computing devices into the workplace. The practice can be not only a distraction but also a major security breach. BYOD is at least part of the reason companies are spending more on security: In 2011, desktop and mobile security client software sales combined rose 20 percent to $4.97 billion, according to Infonetics Research.

BYOD includes allowing employees to access company networks. "Unmanaged, this can result, for example, in iPhones accessing company data. BEAR wants to play a leadership role, focused on helping companies define and enforce rules for mobile device management," Biestman said. "Employees have risen up and said, 'We are bringing our devices, like it or not,' and companies aren't in a position to just say no. Good candidates are saying, 'If you can't handle my access needs, I'll go elsewhere.'" BEAR plans to offer solid, economically feasible services that can assist companies in creating and implementing strong BYOD management policies.

All of these goals culminate in Biestman's main goal: Grow the company.

NEXT: Biestman’s Plans To Grow BEAR

First, come the investments in BEAR Data's partners, he said. "We have three suppliers, Cisco, NetApp and VMware. We're going to build packaging around their products. As long as we take a leadership role with our partners, we can grow."

He'll also invest in staffing at the solution provider. "Companies with people who are challenged and taken care of, they don't worry about attrition. The most important asset a company has is its people. You must challenge them to differentiate themselves and take on different roles."

It's not unlike what a solution provider business needs to do itself to be successful. "The greatest challenge for a VAR is to differentiate itself against the competition -- it's how you're perceived in the industry. We want to invest in the BEAR brand, concentrate on how we take care of customers, how we have the most talented engineers and the best delivery system in industry."