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January 9, 2013
Tech Data (NASDAQ: TECD), the IT distributor, is rallying VARs and MSPs this week during a TDCloud conference near Tampa, Fla. The conference agenda includes big-name cloud partners (EMC, HP, IBM, Microsoft and VMware among others) and nimble channel companies (examples: Champion Solutions Group and Zeno Technology Solutions).
The primary goal: Educate VARs and MSPs that are still trying to wrap their arms around cloud services, recurring revenue models and emerging business strategies.
The secondary goal: Position Tech Data's TDCloud platform as a portal for cloud education, as well as an online mall of sorts for researching and procuring third-party cloud services from vendors that specialize in security, storage, hosted email, cloud applications and more.
Looking Back to See Ahead
During a Tech Data conference that Talkin' Cloud attended in 2012, Vice President Stacy Nethercoat said TDCloud's value proposition has four components:
Partner: Receive a personalized cloud readiness assessment, and a pedestal upon which to partner. She sees cloud partners in three categories — cloud builders, cloud providers (such as MSPs with their own data centers) and cloud resellers (like a classic reseller now having the opportunity to promote hybrid and cloud solutions).
Educate: Includes ITpreneur trainings, CompTIA trainings, solution-based trainings and a tiered education system called TDCloud Academy.
Build: Tech Data has partnerships with over 35 cloud vendors, she said. "It's our job to educate you on what they have to offer." And Tech Data is offering bundles — across CRM, content management and more — to help partners move fast.
Scale: This involves working with the TDCloud sales team, and leveraging the solution store powered by Tech Data's StreamOne. The idea is to offer evergreen billing models to increase VARs' renewal rates for cloud services.
Also in the spotlight this week is Director of Marketing Bharath Natarajan. One of the architects of TDCloud and its underlying software platform, Natarajan has quietly attended a range of third-party cloud events in the past year to study the market for channel partner opportunities. I most recently saw him at the Amazon Web Services Re:Invent conference in November 2012.
Over the next two days, I expect to hear updates on TDCloud's progress, and I hope to get a better feel for how well VARs and MSPs are adjusting to the new cloud reality.
Multiple distributors are attempting to help channel partners with the cloud transition. Ingram Micro Cloud was first to market roughly two years with a sweeping cloud aggregator platform for partners. Avnet Cloud Solutions, Arrow Cloud Services and Synnex CloudSolv also are earning Talkin' Cloud's attention.
Plus, pure cloud distributors such as Excel Micro are succeeding with Google Apps and cloud security solutions.
We'll be watching to see how the cloud distributor story evolves.
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