We’ve been spending a significant amount of time on two cloud fronts (no pun intended). First, helping companies understand their potential role and opportunity in the cloud, and second, how they can participate in this burgeoning marketplace without over-committing capital.
Westcon has begun the build out of our cloud platform wherein we continue our role as a distributor. In the case of the cloud, we see our role as the distributor of cloud services to resellers, systems integrators and service providers globally. Our partners can then utilize the Westcon cloud platform to provide those cloud services to their end-users/customers. The focus is on education and awareness in addition to the actual technology. Our platform brings together offerings and markets. What we will not do is compete with our customers or vendors who are interested in building out the infrastructure necessary for the actual cloud offering. The Westcon platform is in production in the UK and is now being rolled out globally. The platform is exciting, and we will have more formal announcements in the near future, but just as interesting and exciting is the ebb and flow in clarity of roles and opportunities within the cloud marketplace.
In the cloud, the traditional vendor to disti to serviceprovider/reseller to enduser dynamic can be turned upside down. Traditional service providers are now building out infrastructure to house their cloud offerings, while traditional manufacturers/vendors are looking to their customer base to invest and house the necessary infrastructure to “manufacture” the cloud offering. Not quite, but it almost feels like they are swapping roles within the channel. Some vendors are drawing a line, stating that they want to compete in the cloud, but only as a supplier of hardware and software. And these vendors are approaching their customer base in a quest to have their customers “manufacture” the cloud service, based on the vendors technology. This puts the capital onus on the customer base. So, creative financing becomes more and more critical as these companies do not want to risk that much capital on an unproven market. Distribution can, and is, stepping into the breach, sometimes quite creatively, to provide potential financing options.
Financing the capital investment required to build out cloud platforms is becoming another important component in the infancy of the cloud industry. These issues are quite complex, and will take time to mature. Hence our belief that we are still very, very early in the cloud era, with many unique opportunities in front of every player in the channel.