Avnet adds off-premise capabilities to its cloud lineup

Tim FitzGerald Avnet

Tim FitzGerald, vice president of Avnet's Cloud Solutions business

Some 18 months ago, Avnet Technology Solutions executive Tony Vottima explained the distributor’s play in the cloud to be about very succinctly. I paraphrase, but the gist of it was this: behind every cloud is a data centre, and Avnet is specialized in helping VARs built out those data centres.

For the first time, the company is putting more attention on third party, off-premise cloud solutions with the launch of a new Avnet Cloud Solutions Team, headed up by veteran Avnet executive Tim FitzGerald. That group’s goal, as FitzGerald puts it, will be “to wake up every day focused on off-customer-premise solutions” and how said solutions fit in with Avnet’s traditional strength as a distributor in the data centre space.

“Our data centre offerings have been towards the creation of a more agile data centre and to further that journey in the on-premise private cloud,” FitzGerald said. “Now, we’re looking at the hybrid cloud, and we felt we could make an incremental investment to give us a strong footprint for our partners to deliver both on-premise and off-premise solutions to their customers.”

The new group at Avnet is focused on building out ongoing revenue opportunities for solution providers, particularly in areas like productivity and collaboration, backup and disaster recovery, application hosting and management, remote management and monitoring, and data centre as a service. FitzGerald said those areas were picked after extensive market research because they’re the hottest opportunities for solution providers.

The Cloud Solutions group has announced its first partnership – working with cloud service provider Savvis to provide many of those services to solution providers in Canada and the United States. FitzGerald said that Savvis was a logical first choice because of its market leadership, and because it’s flexible in dealing with the channel. He suggested Avnet was not particularly interested in cloud providers who were interested in limiting solution providers into a “referral” model, and pledged that the distributor would only work with cloud providers interested in relationships with channel partners “that protect the relationships between solution providers and their customers.” The deal between Savvis and Avnet is an exclusive, FitzGerald added.

“Savvis saw tremendous value in in the SolutionsPath methodology to sell and support cloud services,” he said.

As a bonus for Canadian solutions providers selling to Canadian customers, Savvis already has active data centres in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, meaning that it’s ready to work with the company’s Canadian solution provider partners. “We know that in the U.S. with the Patriot Act and in other geographies with other legislation, that there are concerns about where data resides, and we want make sure our partners are duly protected,” FitzGerald said. He added that while the deal with Savvis is North American in stature today, the distributor and the cloud provider are looking to expand on international fronts “where it makes sense” in the near future.

There are some surprises, perhaps, in exactly where Avnet is focusing these cloud services. Yes, of course there is ample business for the company’s core of infrastructure VARs. But Avnet sees the opportunity to expand its presence through the Savvis partnership into cloud relationships with new types of partners, most notably MSPs and ISVs looking to “cloudify” their offerings for their customers.