Avnet Rolls Out Cloud Marketplace With Features Tailored To MSPs, ISVs

Avnet has unveiled a cloud marketplace that is says is unique among distributors, thanks to its branded storefronts, MSP- and ISV-focused initiatives and support of both consumption- and subscription-based models.

Avnet is later than many of its peers to the cloud marketplace, but the Phoenix-based distributor believes it will set itself apart from the pack by offering features that more thoroughly address the challenges faced by channel partners and end users.

"We don't think that all marketplaces are created equal," Tim FitzGerald, vice president of Avnet's cloud solutions business in the Americas, told CRN. "Being best is critically important."

[Related: Avnet Sees IT Sales Slump Amid PC Woes And Low-Margin Deals]

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The cloud marketplace is now available in the United States and Canada, and will likely be released to other parts of the world given that it can already support multiple currencies and languages, Fitzgerald said.

Solution providers can gain access to Avnet's cloud marketplace by selecting from among three packages that have monthly subscription fees ranging from $250 to $2,500.

The basic package is intended for partners interested in reselling cloud solutions to customers through the marketplace, and offers brandable storefronts, integrated billing features and the ability to edit the price of Avnet products. The $250 monthly subscription fee is waived if monthly revenues exceed $20,000, according to Avnet.

The premium package allows managed service providers to both customize offerings by adding their own services to the cloud marketplace catalog and resell Avnet cloud products. The monthly subscription fee is $1,500, and there is a 2 percent to 2.5 percent fee assessed for custom products sold through the marketplace.

The top-of-the-line package is intended for independent software vendors that are looking to license to cloud marketplace platform technology to create their own channel, but are not interested in reselling other Avnet cloud products.

Costs include a $2,500 monthly subscription fee, a 2.5 percent to 5 percent fee for custom products sold through the marketplace, and an $800 monthly subscription fee for every 10 solution providers that are part of the ISV's partner channel.

Several dozen vendors are available through the marketplace, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), IBM SoftLayer, CenturyLink Cloud Services and Veritas. Not available, however, is Microsoft Azure; FitzGerald said Avnet has an existing relationship with Microsoft in the OEM space and will continue innovating to ensure Avnet is representing the most relevant cloud providers in the market.

Avnet's branded storefront allows partners to stand up their own URLs on the cloud marketplace platform and have their customers log on, accept terms and make purchases through the platform, FitzGerald said. The storefronts offered as part of other cloud marketplaces are typically intended only for partners and not end users, he said.

Partners can also white-label products and control the basic colors of the brandable storefront, FitzGerald said.

The cloud marketplace also allows for both subscription-based and consumption-based pricing models to be bundled into a single offering, which FitzGerald said is likely unique within the industry.

Subscription-based pricing is like a car lease, where customers commit to pay a consistent amount each month, and works well when partners are delivering Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), FitzGerald said.

Consumption-based pricing, meanwhile, is more like an electric bill, where the price varies each month based on usage, and works well when partners are delivering Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), he said.

Kaizen Technology Partners was an early adopter of Avnet's cloud toolset, a platform introduced 18 months ago that forms the basis for Avnet's cloud marketplace.

The San Francisco-based partner has become the top seller of Amazon Web Services (AWS) products sourced through Avnet, taking advantage of the distributor's integration options, streamlined billing process and experienced sales team to provide an experience superior to what customers can get by directly using AWS' marketplace, Dao Jensen, founder of principal of Kaizen, told CRN.

Jensen said the launch of the cloud marketplace should ensure that Avnet is a full participant in the cloud initiatives game, which she said will be particularly valuable for Avnet given the continued decline in storage, software and on-premise sales. Jensen said the cloud marketplace should, for the first time, make it possible for customers to procure cloud products without even involving Kaizen.

"It's just another method for offering SaaS to our clients," Jensen said. "We've been looking forward to the launch for some time."