Tech Data Canada continues to mature cloud offerings

Greg Myers, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Tech Data Canada.

Greg Myers, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Tech Data Canada.

Tech Data Canada has announced a slew of new vendors and functionality enhancements to its StreamOne Cloud Solutions Store as the distributor’s cloud business continues to gain traction in the Canadian market.

New additions to the lineup include Acronis backup cloud, Cisco Spark, Kaspersky Endpoint Security Cloud, and Sky IaaS Office, as well as group of new vendors offering add-ons to primary cloud offerings, including Exclaimer Cloud Signatures for Office 365, and Completely Managed Cisco Meraki Network Monitored Services.

Greg Myers, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Tech Data Canada, said that since the Cloud Solutions Store launch, the distributor has consistently seen triple-digit month-over-month growth in its cloud business, validation of both the demand for cloud in the Canadian marketplace, and the distributor’s strategy.

“Thirty-six months ago, this cloud business was mostly an aspirational business for us,” Myers said. “It was a business that had potential, and that we understood in the context of the market’s move. But it’s been awesome to see that translate into measurable, easily-identifiable, incremental growth.”

Myers said that monthly incremental growth in terms of seats of cloud solutions sold has been in “the thousands.” The change was all but necessary for Tech Data Canada, which has traditionally had “strong marketshare” in the software space. Myers said it’s been important for Tech Data to stay ahead of the cloud shift in order to “keep that preference we’ve developed with our software teams over the years” as more sales that would have traditionally been software licenses have shifted to cloud subscriptions.

The distributor has also introduced some changes to its Cloud Solutions Store as it continues to gain prominence within its business. Shelley Green, manager of the software and cloud business units at Tech Data Canada, described a simplified and faster checkout process, as well as significant enhancements to its Microsoft cloud services offerings.

StreamOne, she said, is now better able to validate Microsoft partner ID numbers for CSP sales, validate domains, and perhaps most importantly, automate the process of transferring Office 365 sales initially made on Microsoft’s “Advisor” referral model to the more current and more lucrative CSP model. That functionality, she predicted, will be particularly popular with solution providers.

“We’ve done tens of thousands of seats of Office 365 on Advisor,” she said, all of which can now be quickly converted to CSP.

Microsoft-related functionality also gets a boost from the ability to instantly and automatically roll out five Azure-based workloads through the CSP program. Solutions providers will be able to spin up Azure-based backup, site recovery, file storage, SQL Server, and virtual machines for applications. These five functions were previously available through CSP via Tech Data, but required additional setup work.

“It’s now one click on the Solutions Store,” Green said.

Cloud education, business-building and enablement are also getting an overhaul. The distributor has added a cloud assessment offering from Global Knowledge to the Solutions Store, which aims to help solution providers figure out where their business is at, and where it needs to be in terms of its own cloud evolution.

“They come out with a business plan to move forward in their cloud business, showing them how to bridge the gap and get where they want to be,” Green said.

That tool comes along with a variety of cloud “mentoring” tools, functions, and offerings Tech Data Canada is either offering or developing. Mentoring efforts include a regularly-scheduled “Cloud 101” Webinar for solution providers looking to kickstart their own offerings, offers self-serve cloud training via CompTIA under the TD Academy banner, and of course has its own cloud-certified staff on-hand to help solution providers. Myers said that kind of mentoring has come in handy, as it often finds solutions providers benefit from the distributor “walking them through the first experience” with many cloud offerings.

“It’s a new business model for many of our traditional partners, so having the ability to mentor them through the process is crucial,” he said. “We’re trying to do everything we can to make this real for people, and it’s making the phones ring. We’re getting more and more activity and transactions as a result of these functions.”

And of course, in distribution and particularly in the cloud, increasing numbers of transactions are crucial.

The distributor’s latest effort is a Cloud Community Group on LinkedIn. The social media group is still in its very early stages, but Myers describes big ambitions for the group as a place for partners to identify opportunities and partner together on them, and to provide more opportunities for mentoring — both from the distributor to partners and from partner to partner.

There are a lot of new vendors in the cloud lineup for Tech Data Canada, but there are some hints that what’s there might be the tip of the iceberg. Myers describes “an almost infinite variety of applications” that could be applicable to the marketplace, and Green said the company has about 50 vendors currently under assessment, including both “familiar names that are now offering cloud solutions, and new, born-in-the-cloud offerings.” The executives said that another vendor — Autodesk — will likely be live with Tech Data Canada “by the end of the week.”

“[Autodesk is] a pretty material, mature business for us, and they might be the most deliberate vendor we’ve seen in terms of the move away from enterprise licensing and towards subscription,” Myers said.

Cloud is a unique space for Tech Data in terms of international structure, with Myers describing it as “Tech Data’s first nearly-global business.” Part of that has been because the distributor has opted to build its own platform rather than building atop a third-party offering, meaning scaling it internationally is crucial to getting the most out of what was surely a significant investment for the distributor. And still more major decisions loom, assuming Tech Data’s $2.6 billion (U.S.) purchased of Avnet Technology Solutions closes as expected next year.

“There’s lots more investigation to be undertaken to understand the value of their cloud assets, of our cloud assets, and to understand what our future looks like going forward together in the cloud,” Myers said.