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Westcon Cloud: Poised for growth

Westcon Imagine 2014 - “We’re not just talking about it. We have a robust strategy which is now in execution phase and we are poised for growth in our cloud solutions business.”

That’s the simple message from Darryl Grauman, Westcon Group APAC Director, Services and Cloud Solutions, as the leading distributor stakes its claim in the ‘digital distribution’ market.

Westcon Group NZ launched its Cloud Managed Services platform in July, allowing customers to purchase software-as-a-service and infrastructure-as-a-service offerings through an in-market approved channel of New Zealand resellers supported by the company.

Says Grauman: “I think our CEO Dolph Westerbos summed it up really well when he said: ‘Cloud is the next stage in distribution: Westcon Group began as a distributor of physical products; we then became a leader in distributing software; and we will now lead the way in services distribution.’”

Grauman says digital distribution – connecting cloud service providers and end-users via the reseller channel – is that next evolution.

“Westcon’s ability to blend hardware, software and cloud services is our ultimate objective,” he adds.

Ask Grauman what Westcon’s cloud strategy includes, and he’s equally direct.

“The best way to answer is to explain what it does not include. We have made a strategic decision not to build our own cloud services, and not to compete with our resellers who want to build their own cloud services,” he says.

“Our intent is to bring cloud service providers together with resellers so that resellers are able to augment their business by adding cloud services and creating a solid annuity revenue stream.”

Grauman says Westcon’s offering is more than just brokering cloud solutions.

“I like to think we have it right and that we can put our hand on our heart and say we have done it and are fully operational.

“Many other organisations are out there brokering cloud by on-selling other parties’ cloud solutions via traditional, manual distribution methods – many have websites that advertise cloud solutions that can be procured by phone call or email.

“Westcon now have a complete capability where we can digitally, automatically distribute cloud services to end users via our reseller partners. Resellers and end-users can access their consumption and billing information online and real-time, via our digital distribution platform.

Grauman says the cloud offering provides plenty of advantages for resellers.

“We have the ability to assist resellers to transform their business to include a cloud services capability via our resellers’ transformation playbook programme and our pre-populated, vetted, cloud catalogue.

“If resellers don’t embrace a certain degree of cloud, then their business could be at risk. In addition, most resellers, even those who have built some cloud services, can’t build them all and will probably enhance their own offering with other solutions from our catalogue,” he adds.

“And then there’s our cloud broker platform’s ability to assist resellers in the monthly billing of consumption-based cloud services,” he adds.

The offering also has plenty of benefits for end-users, Grauman says.

“New Zealand businesses are usually guided by their trusted resellers. If a reseller has a combination of their own cloud services and components of our catalogue, New Zealand businesses can be provided with robust cloud services at an affordable price.

“Providing the end-user an ability to see all of their cloud services consumption and billing, real-time, via a portal interface, will enable them to monitor and manage usage.”

He notes too, that because Westcon deals with cloud service providers at a global or, at a minimum, regional level, it has the ability to aggregate buying power and bring services to resellers at a price-point better than they would otherwise be able to access.

Meanwhile, for Kiwi cloud providers, Grauman says Westcon Cloud Solutions has been ‘born in the cloud’ and therefore acts globally.

“The cloud solutions providers we have in our catalogue, subject to contracts and commercials, will be available in all regions as we roll our cloud programme across the globe.

“This provides Kiwi cloud vendors with access to markets they would otherwise not have been able to access.”

He says Westcon is trying to make the process ‘as simple as possible’ for CSPs by releasing its SDK for onboarding to the digital distribution platform and providing a single interface for orders and billing.

“Hopefully, this will enable Kiwi CSPs to get on with what they are best at: developing the solutions and promoting them in export markets.”

‘Perfected’ right here

The company had the foresight to establish a global cloud team, running across North America and ANZ to define the distributor’s cloud strategy and figure out who to partner with and how to execute.

New Zealand has been the testing ground for Westcon’s cloud solutions, which were perfected here in preparation for global roll out – something Grauman is justifiably proud of.

“The key to a good strategy is that it’s actually executable. Therefore we needed a region to raise their hand to be the first pilot region to test and refine the concept. And being the innovative Kiwis we are, we stepped up and volunteered.

“Alongside our global team, we developed the processes to onboard cloud service providers (CSPs) and cloud service resellers (CSRs) commercially, legally, operationally and technically.

“I can confidently say that the New Zealand team are now considered the best global onboarding team for cloud.”

Westcon began working with Colorado-based platform provider Verecloud more than 18 months ago, collaborating for more than a year to build the digital distribution platform. Come early 2014, new CEO Dolph Westerbos recognised the intellectual property Westcon had put into the platform and how much of a strategic advantage owning its own platform would be for Westcon. By September a deal had been done, and Westcon acquired the assets of Verecloud.

For more information, contact Jason Hole.