Tech Data Introduces Device-as-a-Service With Life-Cycle Management Capabilities

Tech Data plans to provide its channel partners with a differentiated Device-as-a-Service offering so that they can help end users transform how they consume IT.

The Clearwater, Fla.-based distributor said its focus on the actual product life-cycle management piece will differentiate its Device-as-a-Service practice from similar offerings launched earlier this year by broadline distributor peers Ingram Micro and Synnex, said John O'Shea, Tech Data's senior vice president of services.

"We're not just offering the financial wrapper, but actually own the capability and capacity to deliver the complete lifecycle services around those products," O'Shea told CRN. "I do not believe our competitors have that capability today."

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CIOs are being asked by their CEOs and boards of directors to move to a model where IT is consumed more like a utility, O'Shea said. At the same time, organizations increasingly recognize that their IT must offer a strategic competitive advantage and that they need to hit certain technology-related deliverables or risk falling further behind, he added.

"It's become harder and harder to maintain a bank of technical resources in your own staff competitively, and that means moving to more of a utility operating cost model for IT," O'Shea said. "That's clear, and we're moving down that path." Although the Opex financial model associated with Device-as-a-Service is very important, O'Shea said Tech Data's offering goes well beyond the financial piece thanks to robust infrastructure that can address everything from product design and implementation to ongoing management, reverse logistics and IT asset disposal.

"We're not outsourcing that element to someone else," he said. "We're managing that directly on behalf of the solution provider." Tech Data's integration and life-cycle services are well-positioned to help channel partners drive and accelerate adoption of new technologies in the market thanks to the additional firepower brought to the table by the distributor's February acquisition of Avnet Technology Solutions, O'Shea said.

Technology Solutions was home to high-end integration capabilities around complex converged and hyper-converged infrastructure, according to O'Shea, allowing it to move beyond product delivery and into fulfillment. Tech Data's legacy integration capabilities, meanwhile, focused on asset tagging, asset imaging and light data center integration work, O'Shea said.

As vendors assess the channel's implementation abilities through certi­fications, they have made it a component of achieving top-tier partner status and qualifying for the best pricing, he said. Tech Data's services practice can help solution providers maintain their existing business and move into high-growth areas without having to make the up-front investment themselves.

Solution providers challenged to invest in new engineers before recognizing any revenue from next-generation technologies can turn to Tech Data and have them provide resources, infrastructure and support on their behalf, O'Shea said. The distributor typically white-labels its services offerings unless the solution provider indicates it would like to go to market alongside the Tech Data brand.

"Services are the enabler of the solution," O'Shea said. For Alpha Technologies, with the help of partner Tech Data the solution provider now has managed services accounting for 70 percent of its business compared with 15 percent five years ago, said Doug Tate, CEO and owner of the Hurricane, W.V., company. Alpha Technologies hopes to take the next step by leveraging the consultative and professional services Avnet Technology Solutions has brought to the table, Tate said. He expects these new mid- to senior-level technicians and engineers will help with everything from security and compliance audits to con­figuration support to sales and technical training.

"What excites me most is not the product line, but the expansion of Tech Data's service offering," Tate told CRN.