Avnet Technology Solutions Explores Hosted Microsoft Office Communications Server
During the Avnet Analyst Day in New York, Avnet Technology Solutions described its fastest growing business opportunities for VARs. But the more intriguing discussion occurred over lunch. That’s when John Paget, president of Avnet Technology Solutions, answered questions about possible hosting partnerships involving Cisco Systems Inc. Unified Communications and Microsoft Office Communications Server. Here’s the scoop.
First, the facts. ATS’s revenue has grown from roughly $4.4 billion in fiscal 2004 to more than $7.5 billion in fiscal 2008. (Those are rough estimates; forgive The VAR Guy but he’s reading bar charts without his glasses today…). In 1Q of fiscal year 2009, ATS revenue for services grew 37%. Software (up 3%), networking (up 117%) and storage (35%) oriented revenues also grew in 1Q 2009 compared to 1Q 2008.
Where is Avnet heading next? Avnet Technology Solutions continues to build out “solutions” practices in the following areas:
- unified communications
- document and content management
Time to Dial Cisco, Microsoft?
Now for the twist: Avnet Technology Solutions’ unified communications business grew about 12% in fiscal year 2008, through relationships with Avaya, Nortel, Tanberg, UniCon and Samsung.
Um, that list of unified communications partners worries The VAR Guy a bit. Avaya continues to reinvent itself, Nortel is exploring bankruptcy protection and those other players have niche roles in the unified market.
Avnet CEO Roy Vallee in September 2008 told The VAR Guy that he’d welcome a formal distribution relationship with Cisco Systems. Avnet has some minor distribution agreements with Cisco outside of the Americas. But a bigger deal doesn’t appear imminent.
“We continue to talk with them [Cisco], but we’re a long ways away,” concedes Paget.”If we could, unified communications and VoIP would be the places” Avnet Technology Solutions would work with Cisco, he added.
More Food for Thought
Now for the second twist: Over lunch, The VAR Guy asked Paget if Avnet Technology Solutions would consider a hosting agreement with Cisco rather than a distribution deal. Our resident blogger’s reasoning: Why play in a saturated Cisco distribution market, when you can leap forward and push Cisco’s unified communications technology into the cloud?
Paget smiled as he considered the question. The answer was written on his face: Avnet would someday love to take Cisco Unified Communications into the cloud. But Avnet’s first partner on that front could be Microsoft rather than Cisco.
Here’s why: Paget says he’s spending about three to four hours a week researching cloud computing opportunities. He also travels on business roughly 20 days each month. During those long trips, he depends on Microsoft Office Communicator, a unified communications client that integrates instant messaging, voice and video.
Paget speaks highly of the Microsoft client. You can almost see him connecting the dots between his simple mobile experiences and a potentially ambitious hosted unified communications strategy at Avnet.
Managed Microsoft Services: Here Today
In the meantime, Avnet Technology Solutions recently announced plans to host Microsoft SharePoint. Longer term, it’s a safe bet that Paget is watching Microsoft Office Communications Server — and mulling Avnet’s potential move into hosted unified communications.
When that day comes, remember that you read it here first.