Cloud Gameplan: 7 Distributors Open Up On Strategy

Distributors And The Cloud

Every distributor has a different approach when it comes to the cloud. Each company has placed a different stake in the ground making it difficult to keep the different strategies straight. CRN spoke with the CEOs of major distributors to get a handle on their cloud strategies in a series of interviews. Here's a look at our roundup and where distributors say they stand.

Tech Data

CEO: Bob Dutkowsky

Tech Data sees distribution's role in the cloud as an aggregator of a broad array of offerings to make it easier for the reseller to sell, deploy and build solutions for their customers, CEO Bob Dutkowsky said. It is not a distributor's role to host their own offerings, he said. Tech Data is instead turning to companies Dutkowsky said will "set the agenda in the cloud." These companies include Microsoft, IBM, HP and Cisco.

"We want to take those offerings and attach a SKU to it," Dutkowsky said. "By the way, we've been doing that for 40 years."

The difference with cloud, Dutkowsky said, is that it is "virtual distribution" instead of the physical distribution of pick, pack and ship. To that end, he said, Tech Data is investing millions of dollars in IT infrastructure to wrap around the cloud offerings.


CEO: Mike Baur

ScanSource is investing in both aggregation and hosting, CEO Mike Baur said. ScanSource is making investments as an aggregator of cloud solutions at the request of vendors, Baur said.

At the same time, ScanSource is also making steps to have hosted offerings to cater to resellers. That includes hosted offerings in voice. The distributor revealed in May its first hosted solution with a packaged offering for Avaya's IP Office. However, Baur said ScanSource does not intend to build its own data centers and will instead build partnerships, such as with ViaWest for the Avaya IP Office solution.

Ingram Micro

CEO: Alain Monie

Ingram Micro has made big moves in the cloud space over the past few months. The distributor said in April at its Cloud Summit that it was launching its own hosting services, including Ingram Micro Hosted Exchange, Ingram Micro Virtual Private Server and Ingram Micro Web Hosting.

The distributor said there will be "white glove" offerings around its hosting services -- such as sales, engineering and migration -- for partners. Ingram Micro has also invested in cloud marketplace platform Parallels for an Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace.


CEO Rick Hamada

Avnet CEO Rick Hamada said distribution's role in the cloud world is to go after areas that can be performed at scale, leaving tasks that have to be done customer by customer to the reseller. For Avnet, Hamada sees aggregation as a way to add value and scale support in terms of cloud consulting services and delivery of cloud services. He said all of these facets are "in development" for Avnet.


CEO: Kevin Murai

Synnex CEO Kevin Murai sees aggregation of cloud solutions as "table stakes." That's why Synnex's stake in the ground is the pre-integration of solutions and sub-solutions. It headed down that path with the rollout of sub-solutions around areas such as unified communications.

The current focus is on horizontal solutions. However, Murai said the "nirvana state" for the distributor would be vertical packages of mostly vendor solutions, such as a fully-hosted doctor's office solution with everything in the cloud, including document imaging, disaster recovery, office productivity and more.

"That's what the channel needs to deliver to say this is a really cloud-based solution," Murai said. "That's where we're going towards."

Westcon Group

CEO: Dolph Westerbos

Dolph Westerbos, Westcon Group CEO, doesn't see cloud as being that different from traditional distribution. Westcon has been investing significantly in a go-to-market cloud and services distribution platform to facilitate the sale of the solutions. The distributor said this month it acquired cloud distribution platform developer Verecloud. While other distributors have made moves towards hosting their own data centers, Westerbos said he has no intention of following that strategy with Westcon.


CEO: Michael J. Long

Arrow CEO Michael J. Long said that the distributor sees its delivery model as one of aggregation, similar to its other offerings, where Arrow's role is to simplify access to solutions and services for its VAR partners. He said that Arrow is currently building best-in-breed cloud services and packages of solutions to meet customer needs across a wide variety of cloud deployment options. In particular, he highlighted the ArrowSphere cloud services platform, which aggregates the entire Arrow cloud services portfolio, as a sign of Arrow's focus on service offerings around the cloud, serving more than 60,000 end users in 2013 though the platform.

"We believe that cloud aggregation is a logical extension of the historical distribution business. The difference now is the flattening of the buyer's journey and the makeup of the audience. Making everything easier for partners is the key to success. Offering best-in-breed cloud services from key suppliers, with single billing and provisioning, is what makes consumption of our offerings desirable," Long said.