Global technology distributor Avnet, Inc. (AVT) recently announced a new partnership with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) to provide DevOps and agile development support to partners offering HPE Synergy for Composable Infrastructure. Synergy aims to bridge traditional and new IT infrastructure with simple code that can decrease time-to-market and increase flexibility in infrastructure deployments.
Greg Peterson, vice president of Avnet’s HPE solutions business unit in the Americas, says the new program was really driven by end user demand for faster deployments. “There’s an impatience in the market for this, quite frankly. They want to get things identified, up and in use in a matter of minutes, not in a matter of weeks, months or years. Partners recognize that. I think that, for us, it kind of fits right into our sweet spot.”
There is growing emphasis on the establishment in business of an agile relationship between development and IT operations, known as DevOps. Peterson says Avnet has three general levels of partners looking to grow into this space, and he thinks the new program is flexible enough to help all three. The first group is comprised of partners that have made a solid investment in agile development, but could benefit from a partner like Avnet to push the bounds of innovation to create new, more efficient solutions. The second group of partners has maybe started down the DevOps road, but needs expert advice to fill in knowledge gaps and advise on opportunities and potential pitfalls. The last group sees the potential but doesn’t know the first steps to take. “We can help enable them. We have service capabilities we can use now. As partners grow and are better able to service their end users, it’s just better for us.”
With all the opportunities DevOps provides for enterprises, why are some of them lagging behind in adopting agile development processes? “From all the advancements we’ve made from a pure infrastructure standpoint, there hasn’t been that absolute, compelling technological event that’s taken over. I believe that’s what Synergy does. When you get into a true, composable world, that takes away some of the barriers that have existed,” says Peterson. “There are compelling events that happen that push innovation into a high gear, and I think Synergy is one of those events.”
Jim Burdick, director of supplier solutions for Avnet’s HPE solutions business unit in the Americas, says that the concept of DevOps or rapid deployment isn’t unique to HPE, but that Synergy boasts a major differentiator. “The difference with Synergy is that it’s a single line of code to deploy the environment, and it’s designed from the ground up to be composable. It’s a natural fit for this acceleration. It really does take us to another level.”
“The reality is there are others out there that could develop this and do it, and to some extent they are, I’m sure. We were an early adopter. We saw where this was heading, and it fit nicely with what we already did,” Peterson added. “We’ve had a vertical practice for more than a decade. Our relationship with HP goes back 37 years…It’s not the fact we’re the only ones that can do it, or even the only ones trying to do it. We just think we’re further ahead. It fits better into our DNA.”
Burdick describes Synergy as infrastructure as code so users can have all the benefits of the rapid deployment with infrastructure they own. “We see this speed and agility that Synergy will provide being applicable across a lot of different opportunities. The fact that it’s built from the ground up to be rapidly deployed and flexible and agile, we think that’s a very big deal.”
For Avnet, this type of program is exemplary of the changing nature of distribution as a whole. “If you look at distribution from a holistic standpoint, there are pieces of it that look now like they did a few years ago, and still will be there in a few years. You still have need for a certain amount of basic distribution,” Peterson says. “But where we’re headed, and this program is a perfect example, is beyond those logistic pieces.”
Distribution’s role in the current channel, he says, is to bring the various types of businesses together to create mutual opportunities for success. Distributors have to be able to aggregate the needs of traditional resellers, end users, service providers and systems integrators to help channel partners truly make the jump from second platform to third platform technologies such as cloud, mobile, Internet of Things (IoT) and big data.
“If you don’t have the services and capabilities to help them get there, then my opinion is you’ll be left behind in certain areas. That’s really what a lot of this boils down to,” he says. “We help our partners that want to make that transformation.”