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October 12, 2015
By Ellen Muraskin
Ellen Muraskin, Channel Partners senior editor, attended the Synnex North American Conference earlier this month. There, she caught up with Rob Moyer, vice president, Synnex’s Microsoft Global Business Unit and Cloud Services. They had a conversation about cloud migration, top verticals for cloud and the role the distributor and the software giant are playing in helping partners.
Channel Partners: How are you helping channel partners as they help their clients navigate cloud migration?
Rob Moyer: We help partners build their solutions based on the most likely environment today. That’s kind of how we’ve aligned our team, into private/hybrid cloud, Microsoft and Google business units. When you run legacy apps you’re probably using on-premises servers, but there’s some sort of mechanism to punch out to public cloud like Azure or AWS. We just signed Commvault as a vendor; they make it easy for people to manage hybrid environments like this. They also have a new program for MSPs on a monthly billing model.
CP: Do you see any trends in public vs. private cloud vs. hybrid?
RM: You have to look at segmentation; SMBs are consuming public cloud at a must faster rate than enterprise. Hybrid and private cloud tend to be midmarket and above, where public cloud tends to be very workload specific, and takes up a greater percentage of SMB environments.
CP: Do you see hybrid cloud as an interim choice?
RM: We think hybrid cloud will be here for a long time. Many companies still have business processes they built their business on. Those legacy apps are not going to go away. They may run core applications in their business in a more traditional way, but go into a hybrid environment, whether it’s workloads or specialty applications, to adopt Office 365, or CRM, or Skype, or some of the Google stack. Areas like storage, too, you’re seeing all these entrants in backup and disaster recovery.
CP: Which verticals are strongest in cloud adoption?
RM: I’d be hard pressed to pick any particular vertical; cloud is being adopted in every area, but I’d say look at education. We saw some trend lines and built solutions that wrap around Google, making it dead-simple for a partner to go into a K-12 environment with an end-to-end solution. They may have their own team, or we may have to help with deployment and training. That market has been very ripe for adoption; I’d say it’s been successful with both Google and Microsoft. It’s been almost “no-IT IT”; that’s what made it easy.
CP: Can you describe what a typical K-12 sale looks like? It’s a lot of hardware, isn’t it?
RM: Absolutely. You may need help on wireless network, you need devices, we can help in terms of white-label. For example, when we started we would do proof-of-concept, so we created a sandbox for demos. Whatever partners needed could be part of that sandbox. It was almost like building configurators and making it a la carte. We also do the last mile, which is usually the part where partners need the most help.
It’s not just about selling to IT directors. Many of these school districts don’t …
… have one. It’s about creating the use case that lets these teachers manage their own local environment, down to real-time tests. That’s why we hired educators. Our job is to help partners get there faster. Some need no help, some need us to do all the heavy lifting.
CP: What Microsoft pieces are these K-12 customers buying? Is it the same Office 365 as SMBs?
RM: With Microsoft, we’re just starting to deploy Lightspeed for teachers; managing a locked-down, filtered environment in the classroom in a simple way. Google did a very good similar job with Chrome Management Console.
CP: What other areas are particularly active?
RM: We’re also starting to see trend lines in public safety. It’s cloud, it’s devices, it’s IoT, with some sort of connectivity backed up to something like an Azure.
I think that often people overthink cloud. It’s the simplicity that it just works in that scenario. It’s not just about aggregating cloud solutions; that’s been in the disty headlines for a while, but it’s not ours. It’s about building solutions in hardware and cloud, making it simple, and going where the trend lines are so partners can grow faster than market.
CP: What verticals are slowest to go to cloud?
RM: Again, that’s a hard question to answer because i see it being adopted everywhere. We tend to see slower adoption along geographic lines than vertical. Major metros tend to adopt faster. Three or four years ago we got a good lift in the West and Northeast, South Central. You can’t discount the impact cloud has had on CRM, email. I love what Microsoft’s doing with Skype coming up. I don’t see any industries not starting with at least a workload or two.
CP: What are you doing to help partners move toward a subscription-based revenue model?
RM: The trend lines we see are partners getting growth from their public cloud and their subscription services, while they’re managing the transition off their core business. Rewards come down to how efficiently they can manage their operations and compensation. Some partners are very adept at it, and some are still having a tough go. From what we can tell, partners who are making a good transition are thriving. I’d also say that it’s creating a new class of partner, as well.
CP: Can you elaborate?
RM: You have VARs who are making the transition to MSP, you have born-in-the clouds, you have private hybrid and hosters. I would argue that the pie will continue to evolve as you see more diversity in partner types emerge.
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