Distributors Play Growing Role In Open Source Space
Distributors are responding to demand for open source and cloud-based solutions by expanding their product lines, vendor partnerships, and support programs to help solution providers and managed service providers (MSPs) differentiate, compete, and profit.
Both international heavyweights like Ingram Micro (IM) and smaller, specialized distributors perceive themselves playing an invaluable role in bringing together vendors and channel organizations. By educating and supporting service providers and MSPs, pre-testing multiple developers’ products for compatibility, and providing financing and other business offerings, distributors remove many channel pain points and allow these organizations to focus almost exclusively on their clients, according to distribution executives.
Long available in the commercial hardware and software space, demand for open source — from channel clients ranging from government and education to Fortune 100 and SMBs — is encouraging distributors to increase their investments in these solutions, Steve Beals, field technical consultant at Ingram Micro’s Advanced Computing Division, told Talkin’ Cloud.
So, how would the $42.6-billion distributor describe the market for open source products, services, and solutions?
“In one word: growing,” Beals said. “Open source is a hot market that’s driven by the need for greater business efficiency, lower costs, and more compute power. The enterprise buyer’s need for lower IT costs is going to make open source a much bigger business over the next four to five years and that will accelerate the adoption of cloud services and solutions. Additionally, adoption of cloud-based services will continue to build among SMBs, many of which will standardize and/or be founded on a cloud-based infrastructure built on open source products.”
For its part, Tech Data (TECD) launched Open Tech as an open source resource for channel partners and center for developing ISV partnerships so resellers can develop open source business through an aggregated, streamlined process, the company said. Like its competitors large and small, the Clearwater, Florida-based company continues to expand its offerings; most recently, for example, it inked an exclusive distribution agreement with cloud-based, hardware-agnostic storage start-up Springboard.
“The agreement with Springpath will allow us to offer more bundled solutions across the data center, leveraging a common enterprise-ready, server-centric data platform for all applications. Springpath’s strategic alignment with leading Tech Data vendor partners offers solution providers compatibility with existing portfolios and more opportunities to profitably grow their business,” Chuck Bartlett, senior vice president, Advanced Infrastructure Solutions, at Tech Data, said earlier this month.
Like Tech Data, Synnex (SNX) has been focusing on open source for at least six years. In 2014, Red Hat (RHT) named the company its Distributor of the Year in the commercial category, and Synnex continues to build on that relationship and new partnerships with other open source vendors and channel organizations. In addition, specialized companies like Mouser Electronics are expanding their offerings. Last year, for example, Mouser expanded into hardware and now offers open source hardware technology boards and accessories — components of special interest to the growing number of solution providers entering the Internet of Things, automated home, and related markets.
“This new site is project oriented, allowing developers to easily sort and select parametric data for the desired board requirements of their particular project,” according to Mouser. “Parameters include processor type and speed; number of analog and digital inputs; wireless options including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth; USB ports including host, client, and/or OTG; video connectivity; and more. Detailed documentation and links to supporting software for each board are available for fast, direct download.”
In addition to products, distributors differentiate themselves and support channel customers through education, support, and other services, executives said. By helping service providers and MSPs design the most appropriate solutions, end-customers receive the technological assistance they expect — resulting in more sales for both channel organizations and distributors.
“We have the cloud-based solutions and services MSPs and VARs need, and can provide the back-office and front-line sales and technical support they need to successfully market, support and ultimately sell cloud-based services on a usage basis (utility),” said Ingram Micro’s Beals. “We are educating our channel partners on what’s ahead and how cloud is impacting or will impact their business. We are also providing them with services and solutions that will help them take advantage of open source and cloud computing without having to overinvest in physical infrastructure such as building their own data center.”
With more offerings – and more competition – the channel can expect distributors to provide an even greater level of attention to its needs and wishes, resulting in even better customer service for both channel and end-customer organizations.