Tech Data’s Cloud Solutions Store, the key element of its overall TDCloud business, has opened in Canada. Previously running only in the U.S., the distributor’s online shop for solution providers to market cloud-based solutions to customers is now available in Canada, France and the UK, with a broader European rollouts slated over the coming weeks.
The cloud solutions store provides an “app store” type of environment for resellers to offer cloud-based applications to customers. It builds on the distributor’s StreamOne online software, which started out as a repository for its software licensing offerings and has since expanded to encompass provisioning, billing, and marketing applications.
“We see [cloud] as a developing opportunity. Some of our vendors are a lot further ahead than others, but we see the launch of the Solutions Store and developing the development of TDCloud in Canada putting us in a position of readiness as they bring offerings to market,” said Sukh Randhawa, vice president of business operations at Tech Data Canada.
Initial offerings available on the Solutions Store include IaaS and SaaS offerings from vendors including SherWeb, Autodesk, Microsoft, Oracle, and Intel Security (a development SVP of sales and marketing Greg Myers hinted at as the distributor recently joined Intel Security’s Managed Services Specialization program.)
With the starting lineup set, the distributor will be actively adding additional offerings to the Cloud Solutions Store, both from the big names one would expect to find on a distributor’s e-commerce site, and perhaps some smaller names as well. The latter group will be possible because Tech Data has set up the Cloud Solutions Store to allow vendors to on-board themselves, including the ability to host sales and marketing collateral, videos and educational material to help new solutions providers get up and running. This self-serve onboarding system, combined with moves by some solution providers to add more intellectual property in the form of applications and other solutions to their mix, could even lead to some Tech Data Canada customers trying their hand as a Tech Data Canada vendor. It’s a phenomenon in which Randhawa said the distributor is already seeing interest.
“Some of our solution providers, MSPs in particular, are absolutely potential vendors for us, and we already have examples of that. That’s the beauty of this technology and this system,” he said.
Like other distributors, Tech Data is seeing an increasingly important role in aggregating and providing access to cloud-based software in much the same way it has traditionally distributed software licenses, or even physical products. But the speed and flexibility inherent in and required of the cloud means distributors have had to re-think their systems and processes for this new world.
For Tech Data, that re-thinking has resulted in Stream One and TDCloud, and Randhawa said it was a strategic decision for the distributor to build its own global platform for this growing market opportunity. Other distributors have used a mix of home-grown and third-party applications and platforms to deliver cloud solutions.
“By having full control of the assets, we feel we can be flexible to changing needs,” Randhawa said. “This is such a developing market, and it’s very dynamic.”
For solution providers, the Solution Store’s backend provides a combined view of all cloud offerings a customer is consuming, and can link into the solution providers’ own invoicing systems to help automate the billing process.
While Randhawa acknowledged it’s been a long journey to get a more full version of TDCloud up and running in the Canadian market, he said the time is right, with more vendors coming to market with cloud-based solutions, more customers seeking those solutions, and more solution providers warming to the idea of cloud as an important part of their recurring revenues mix.
“It’s been a lot of work to get here, and we’ve reached the starting line,” Randhawa said. “The fun part is ahead of us.”