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CRN Exclusive: D&H Plans To Expand DaaS, Cloud Services With Focus On SMB Partners

D&H executives tell CRN they want to help their SMB partner base move up into the higher end of the market and plan to do that with new Device-as-a-Service and cloud services offerings.

D&H Distributing is beefing up its support for SMB-focused channel partners with the introduction of its next-generation cloud platform with PSA integration, along with new hardware integration for its Device-as-a-Service business.

The company is also expanding its collaboration offerings with new as-a-service options, said Peter DiMarco (right in photo), vice president of VAR sales for the Harrisburg, Pa.-based distributor.

The new offerings come as D&H seeks to provide increased support for partners looking to move upstream in the SMB market, DiMarco told CRN.

[Related: D&H's DNA For Success]  

"Our focus is on SMBs," DiMarco said. "This includes helping partners cover the current base of SMBs with 25 to 250 seats. But we're also helping them move upmarket to the 250-seat to 500-seat SMBs. Our focus is on how to help growing SMBs move up."

Jason Bystrak (left in photo), vice president of D&H's new Cloud Business Unit, said that since he joined the distributor in January he has brought that unit's product management, sales, marketing, operations and tech support teams under a single umbrella while doubling the team as a way to help SMB solution providers explore cloud opportunities.

"I'm focused on our Success Path to Cloud program," Bystrak told CRN. "There's still a large VAR base that is not focused on the cloud. We think them adopting the MSP model is an important step. So we're focused on PSA [professional services automation] and RMM [remote monitoring and management] tools to help them get started."

A big part of that effort includes introducing the next generation of D&H's cloud platform before the end of the second quarter of 2019, Bystrak said.

"We'll be adding critical support, including PSA integration for invoicing, and an n-tier [multitier] architecture so partners can white-label services," he said. "Also, at any tier, partners can add their own services."

D&H this quarter also will unveil which PSA and RMM partners the distributor plans to work with, he said.

In addition, D&H is adding new hardware integrations to help scale the Device-as-a-Service offering it brought out last year, Bystrak said.

"We will let partners do things like integrating HP notebooks with Dropbox services, Office365 and so on," he said. "Or integrate Buffalo NAS appliances with Dropbox. Partners can do anything as a service. We're building these ahead of time to give partners time to market."

Device-as-a-Service is growing in importance, and companies like HP and Lenovo have been putting a lot of emphasis on it, Bystrak said.

"D&H is vendor-agnostic," he said. "It's your choice. And we are wrapping in the services. End users increasingly want to consume cloud services."  

DiMarco said D&H's Device-as-a-Service approach is not based on any vendor's program.

"We offer an end-to-end service," he said. "We partner with a third-party company to help with the services. We are also working in-house to do the life-cycle end-to-end capability. And we scale. If you want to do DaaS for a single device, we can do it."

Also new for the Device-as-a-Service offering is integration with D&H's cloud practice, both in terms of solutions and delivery mechanisms, Bystrak said.

Collaboration has turned out to be a big opportunity for D&H's SMB partners, DiMarco said.  

Things like digital signage, Unified Communications as a Service, and collaborative digital display solutions in several key verticals are underpenetrated, creating opportunities for SMB channel partners, he said.

"For example, we see opportunities in tier-two retail stores, in small houses of worship, and in state and local government," he said. "We're building the toolsets and partnering with service providers to build solutions for our partners."

D&H plans to roll out a number of new collaboration offerings and new vendor alignments in the near future but is not yet ready to give details, DiMarco said. However, he did mention that one will be a new as-a-service offering for digital signage.

Brent Lindke, owner of BizTech Plus, a Sacramento, Calif.-based solution provider with a focus on SMBs, particularly small law offices, said that his company started working with D&H on Device-as-a-Service models last year, and that it takes time to convince smaller businesses to move away from purchasing their devices.  

"Most of my clients are small, and are starting to see the initial outlay for a purchase as scary," Lindke told CRN. "They think they may need a loan. I tell them to get it as a subscription. They understand that. No loan, and keeping the equipment fresh and up to date."

For BizTech Plus, the sales portion of the Device-as-a-Service model is as profitable as selling the devices outright, Lindke said.

"We don't have to deal with sales tax and things like that," he said. "I get the installation and services business, which makes us more money. And I don't make money on selling the hardware anyway. So with DaaS, I get an additional 3 percent on the hardware sales profit, and end up purchasing less Tylenol."

Lindke said that he plans to slowly move into cloud services with D&H's help over the next year or so.

"But my law clients are paranoid about the cloud," he said. ... “We tell clients we can put firewalls in place but no one is watching them but if they get it as a cloud service, they'll have a team of people watching it for them 24x7. One client wanted a new Microsoft Exchange server, which costs $6,000. I told her she could get the service for $60 a month. She still bought the server. She feels that, because her company is small, no one will attack her."

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