The turnkey solutions are expected to build up Equinix’s base of MSP and VAR partners, something that has been a focus for the company this year. Equinix is especially interested in partners with strong Microsoft practices.
Interconnect and colocation provider Equinix has announced a joint initiative with distributor Arrow, through which Arrow’s channel will receive access to preconfigured hybrid cloud packages for enterprise customers. The offerings are being showcased at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto.
“What we bring to the relationship is our strength in private cloud connectivity and interconnect,” said Greg Adgate, vice president, global technology partners at Equinix. “We provide a private switching onramp onto the Microsoft Azure cloud program through the Equinix Cloud Exchange. This is married to Arrow’s capabilities to rack, stack and configure hardware for the private cloud.”
Arrow is strong in several non-traditional areas, including cloud, but Adgate credits Steve Robinson, the vice president of Arrow’s global cloud business, with developing that cloud capability.
“He saw that the big base of their traditional VARs didn’t have the skills to run and operate a hybrid cloud, so he made the case to build those skills within the company, to enable Arrow to be able to deliver those skills on behalf of the partners,” Adgate said. “That accounts for their ability to put this kind of bundle together. It ensures this will be a ready-to-go private cloud without the need to configure. By selling stuff that’s literally on the shelf pre-connected, it completely eliminates the need to go through the test and configuration cycle.”
These turnkey solutions are tailored to HPE hardware and software, with prepacked configurations of HPE hyper-converged systems with HPE Helion CloudSystem and HPE OneView. Access to the cloud is provided by the Equinix Cloud Exchange.
“Quite frankly, we started with HPE because they had a bundle that Arrow has tested in their labs with Azure,” Adgate said. “For all three parties though, it provides access to that large HPE partner community, with something those partners are asking for.”
Arrow and Equinix plan to expand beyond this initial offering however, viewing this as just the first in a series of hybrid cloud deployments.
“We see this expanding to both additional vendors and additional clouds, and both technology bundles and cloud exchanges are on the roadmap,” Adgate said. “We have a long-standing partnership with NetApp, which has an offering certified on Azure. That’s another component that could be delivered to other partners. It could be expanded to other clouds as well depending on interest.”
For Equinix, these bundles are another major step in the expansion of their channel. Until last year, the company sold mainly direct, with only between 10-20 per cent of their business coming through partners. However, the company launched a channel partner program last year as part of a commitment to significantly increase that number. While most of the 350 partners recruited in the first year were agents and referral partners, this year the emphasis is on MSPs and other solution providers, particularly top Microsoft partners.
“Chris Rajiah’s [Equinix’s vice president of worldwide channel sales and alliances] strategy emphasizes the onboarding of new MSP partners,” Adgate said. “When you look at the universe of companies who have higher skillsets to do managed services and managed cloud services, there’s a huge universe who don’t have all those skills today. This kind of turnkey offering fills the gap, especially for those at the bottom of the pyramid in terms of skills. The whole point of this partnership with Arrow is to allow partners who or may not have full competencies in managed services and hybrid cloud the ability to take advantages of what Arrow has to offer and deliver a more robust set of offerings. This opens up a much larger number of companies who can become partners in our ecosystem.”
The solutions are only offered through American data centres out of the gate, but plans are in place to expand delivery through European data centre locations, as well as Equinix’s Canadian data centre, which is in Toronto. The presence of that Canadian data centre – which Equinix Canada managing director Andrew Eppich will be escorting tours through during the WPC event – suggests that Canadian data centre availability for these solutions is imminent. Adgate confirmed that is the case.
“The ability to deliver this from Canada is technically possible today, and has to do with other issues,” he said. “We expect Canadian delivery in the very near term – shortly after WPC.”
Partners will be able to quote, order and provision the new preconfigured hybrid cloud solutions in a matter of minutes through ArrowSphere, Arrow’s online marketplace. Arrow is also offering a series of playbooks for the new offerings to partners. Arrow and Equinix will be showcasing the new solutions and facilitating ArrowSphere onboarding at booth 1410 at the WPC starting July 10.