Avnet, Arrow: Distributors Accelerate Their Cloud Strategies
What a difference six months makes. In early 2011, Ingram Micro was just about the only major distributor banging the drum loudly for cloud computing. Fast forward to the present and it seems like every major distributor now has an emerging cloud computing strategy in place for VARs and other channel partners.
The latest examples include cloud-related moves from Avnet Technology Solutions and Arrow Electronics Enterprise Computing Solutions. This week, Avnet announced cloud workshops for VARs and their end-customers. Avnet also continues to promote CloudReady education to channel partners — though I think most of that effort was focused on virtualization as a stepping stone to cloud computing.
Meanwhile, Arrow Enterprise Computing Solutions is working more closely with IBM to assist channel partners with managed backup, infrastructure, security, monitoring and storage solutions tied to the cloud. You'll find details on the Arrow Fusion Cloud website.
The Bigger Picture
During much of 2010, most distributors silently developed their cloud computing strategies while Ingram plowed ahead and launched the Ingram Micro Cloud strategy — which includes a portal where VARs, MSPs and cloud services providers can source SaaS applications.
Some of the Ingram Micro Cloud components won't arrive until late 2011, but Ingram Micro VP of Managed Services and Cloud Computing Renee Bergeron has been on the road non-stop, evangelizing the Ingram strategy to partners across North America.
More recently, Tech Data disclosed plans for the StreamOne Solutions Store. Tech Data has been careful not to call the solutions portal an App Store… but that's essentially what it is. We've also been watching the Synnex CLOUDSolv strategy quite closely.
Replacing Hardware Revenues
On the one hand, distributors want to be thought leaders as VARs seek cloud guidance. But on the other hand, distributors have no choice but to march down the cloud computing path.
The reason: Several sources tell Talkin' Cloud that distributors are worried about 10 percent — or more — of server hardware sales disappearing, as SMB customers increasingly shift their IT spending from on-premise hardware to hosting providers. Alas, many of those big hosting providers don't buy through distribution.
Generally speaking, I don't think distributors are trying to transform VARs into cloud services providers. I suspect fewer than 10 percent of VARs will ultimately fit the definition of cloud services provider. Instead, there larger opportunity is for VARs to resell the building blocks and migration services for cloud solutions.