At the recent CompTIA ChannelCon event in Chicago, distributor Tech Data had no new announcements to make. They did, however, update the progress they are making on their recently announced cloud initiatives, and encouraged partners not working with them in the cloud to join the party.
“Our cloud subscription business is still a very small percentage of the overall business – 200 million in annual run rate in a 27 billion dollar company – but it is showing triple digit growth,” said Brian Davis, Senior VP of Product Marketing and Management at Tech Data.
The distributor’s big recent cloud news came last month at Microsoft’s WPC event, when they announced the expansion of their StreamOne provisioning and marketing engine for resellers and MSPs, as well as its availability later this year as a customized white-label offering.
“In the past, before the direct integration into the ERP system, you had to take a download from StreamOne to process it,” Davis said. “Being subscription-based speeds up the partner’s ability to close, and provisioning and billing is sped up as well.”
Davis said that while other distributors have similar services, Tech Data’s is distinct in one important way.
“We own the IP for this, which is unique relative to our competitors,” he said. “That may have long-term significance. Today StreamOne is for subscription based software. But it could also be used for, say, hardware as a service. There is nothing planned along those lines now, but there may be at some point.”
The white-labelling capability announced at WPC is piloting in both Canada and the U.S. this quarter, with a couple partners in Canada and a handful in the U.S. Q4 remains the target date for general availability.
“The white labelling capability is a pretty big deal,” Davis said. “It gives it an end use capability for the solution provider, and will lead to additional functionality, as well as additional partners using it. As the white labelling unfolds, partners will also provide feedback on what they see as well as features they would like.”
Davis said some partner investment may be necessary.
“It does require some effort because the reseller has to have their own billing engine to integrate StreamOne into, and some resellers don’t have this,” he said. “Manual billing just won’t work in a subscription environment.”
Other recent initiatives have also strengthened Tech Data’s cloud business. The company announced that John Tonnison, their CIO, is having his role expanded to lead the strategic direction, operations, and go-to-market execution of their worldwide cloud business.
“Tonneson reports directly to our CEO for the integration of cloud strategy on a global basis, which will strengthen it,” Davis said. “We recognize we have global customers and they expect consistent experience across the StreamOne platform.”
Davis said that while Tech Data’s SteamOne business is small today, they expect it to become significant as more organizations move to a hybrid environment.
“Hybrid doesn’t mean that you have Office 365, and everything else is in your data centre,” he said. “It means you have some public cloud and some private and some traditional things like ERP running on-prem, and the issue is how do you make them work as a seamless business tool. So it’s incumbent on Tech Data to provide both the tools and enablement to let resellers do that.”
To really benefit from StreamOne, Davis said resellers need to become well informed in three different areas.
“First, they have to learn about what the opportunities are, and how to run a subscription business,” he said. “Secondly they need to know how to transact, particularly the renewal process. Third, they need to know how to manage the seats properly on behalf of their users.”