Tech Data Canada has announced a deal to expand solution providers’ access to Office 365 through its Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider Program membership by partnering with Quatrro to provide the support required by Microsoft under the CSP program.
CSP is the long-sought-after program from Microsoft that allows member partners much more flexibility to sell Microsoft cloud products, including owning direct billing, the ability to combine products and services, and the ability to directly provision, manage, and support their offering that includes Office 365. But because it means the company is essentially handing over the keys to the kingdom for its new flagship product, Microsoft requires partners to meet a number of support and service requirements to run a program through CSP.
Tech Data Canada has been part of CSP since last October, and getting Quatrro on board to provide support for partners who don’t want to build out that capability themselves should make Office 365 via CSP accessible to many more solution providers.
“It’s very much about providing a set of services that an end user expects to receive from Microsoft if they were direct – offering seven by 24 by 365 support and the SLAs around it that Microsoft would expect,” said Greg Myers, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Tech Data Canada.
Under the deal, managed services and technical support provider Quatrro will provide centralized support for Exchange Online and Lync Online on a flat-rate basis, with SLA numbers that meet Microsoft’s requirements for CSP. The offering will include 24/7 support and the ticketing and tracking of all issues reported.
“We chose Quatrro because of their depth in this business as a one-stop shopping point for technical and managed services in the channel for many years,” Myers said. “Tapping into their infrastructure, their knowledge base, and their reseller relationships is an advantage for Tech Data.”
While CSP makes Office 365 much more attractive for many solution providers to offer, the support requirements can make it hard for solution providers to offer it themselves, Myers said, particularly among regional VARs. While there will “a handful of players” who will want to spin up their own support and service capabilities to meet Microsoft’s requirements for selling Office, the vast majority won’t have the scale, or the appetite, to do so. Building the connections to allow a much larger base of solution providers to do it is part of the new value of distribution, Myers said.
“Resellers have leveraged distributors in the physical products world for 40 years now, and as virtual products become a bigger part of the mix, it makes sense [for distributors to offer] these kinds of aggregation services and make it easier for resellers to go to market,” he said.
With CSP now more broadly accessible within the channel, solution providers certainly have no shortage of ways to offer Office 365 to their customers, including through the venerable advisor model, via electronic software distribution, through Open licensing, via SPLA, and now CSP. And Myers said that each of those routes to market “has traction” with portions of the reseller community.
The deal with Quatrro is an Americas-wide arrangement, something Myers suggested we may see more of going forward. While many of its distribution peers have gone to an Americas, or at least North American, approach to many aspects of the business, Tech Data has remained largely nation-by-nation in its North American go-to-market, although in Europe, Myers described the company as much more “hub and spoke” in nature. Going with an Americas approach on such matters “allows us to access the rich resources contained within Tech Data,” Myers said.
“[Tech Data Americas president] Joe Quaglia understands that it’s very tough for Canada, or Paraguay, or many other nations to deliver all of the services, all of the requirements that vendors look for us to deliver in the US, in Germany, or in the UK. As more and more the market changes, and you start to deliver technology by the drip and not by the bucket, you need to find the economic benefit to the scale approach.”