Q&A | October 2, 2013

Tech Data Shares Strategy For Optimizing Cloud

By Bernadette Wilson, associate editor, Business Solutions magazine
Follow Me On Twitter @bernadeditor

BSM-Cloud3

At its fall Channel Link event, Tech Data announced its partners can offer additional cloud-based services. Before launching the new initiative, though, the company considered how to best offer the services so the new program — and its resellers — would have the best chance of success.

Tech Data has a distribution agreement with collab9 to deliver the Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS) as a service-based offering through Tech Data’s Stream One solutions store.  Cisco HCS allows partners to create Cisco-powered cloud services around Cisco Collaboration technologies, including unified communications (UC), videoconferencing, and web conferencing. Partners deliver these functions as-a-Service, and collab9 will help businesses manage BYOD and mobile environments.  

Angela Beltz, VP of product marketing for the Cisco solutions group at Tech Data, says they recognized adopting cloud services can be challenging for resellers, so the company invested time “to figure out how to do it right.” Tech Data collected feedback from its partners and from Cisco — both from a domestic and a global perspective. She says the result is a streamlined platform and a partner-enablement program that includes training for salespeople. Beltz says Tech Data also reviewed its list of partners and asked which ones were ready to transform and have a Cisco practice and which ones should be adding this on as their next step.

Bharath Natarajan, director of TDCloud and software services for Tech Data, says, once the partner is ready to add cloud services, “We are the back office engine that provides support.”

Natarajan, who presented “TDCloud and You: Helping to Build a Turnkey Cloud Business” at Channel Link, says Tech Data’s strategy that relates to cloud has four tenants. The first is to successfully complete transactions. Perhaps an obvious goal, but Tech Data includes the option for the reseller to rebrand a white-labeled product, licensing and cloud provisioning, and establishing recurring billing. The second tenant is to build a staff invested in building leadership, and the third is selecting the right solutions.

The fourth tenant is to enable partners — which includes making sure they understand the business proposition, know how to work with Tech Data to provide cloud services, and have all necessary product-oriented knowledge. Natarajan points out that some partners are prepared to handle providing cloud services when they first meet with Tech Data, others are not. The challenge in creating an enablement program that can meet everyone’s needs is to “create the structure, and then draw what you need.”

Beltz and Natarajan agree Tech Data’s partners recognize the cloud is here to stay, and offering cloud-based services — even though adding these services can be challenging — is a serious consideration as they look at the future. Beltz says the key is not just offering a product or a service, but creating a well-planned solution.

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